In advertising, publicity is basically the public awareness or visibility for any particular product, service or company. It can also refer to the circulation of news about a specific company, its products or services to the public, usually through the printed media. The main purpose of publicity in advertising is to raise awareness, or public awareness about a particular product or service, and to build brand loyalty. With increased awareness, this will lead to increased sales, and therefore to growing profits.
Advertising and promotions managers work together to maximize the value of publicity and to minimize costs related to such activity. In a highly competitive marketplace, companies spend a considerable amount of money every year on advertising their products and services. The importance of publicity and of media as a means to promote product awareness, build brand loyalty and increase sales cannot be understated. Without adequate publicity, the profitability of marketing activities will decline.
Television, radio, print and other media are the usual ways of disseminating information. These are usually done through print, film and by other means, through the dissemination of information to targeted audiences. Such outlets include advertising, promotions and public relations activities. Publicity is not limited to newspapers, magazines or other printed media, but extends to other types of the written word and to other forms of advertising. This includes the distribution of leaflets and brochures, and the distribution of handbills and newsletters.
There are a variety of sources of negative publicity that can hurt a company’s sales. Some of these are comments made by customers and other individuals, newspapers and magazines which carry opinions critical of a product or service, and publicity stunts designed to bring news of a product or service to the attention of the public. While it is difficult to avoid some forms of negative publicity, companies can take certain precautions to minimize their negative impact on the sales of their products and services. For instance, it may be prudent for a company to invest in a negative publicity campaign rather than launching one without preparing an effective plan.
A good example of a company that benefited from the provision of negative publicity was the tobacco industry. In decades past, when there were no effective methods of advertising and popularizing a product or service, the manufacturer would go to great lengths – sometimes spending exorbitant amounts of money – to get the desired publicity. They would place articles or statements in newspapers and magazines, which would give the product or service some positive citation needed to build a positive reputation. This meant that a business could receive positive publicity, increase its sales, and draw in new clients and customers. But, with today’s technology, the same things can be done in far less amount of time or at a much smaller cost. Today, it is possible for a business to create its own publicity and begin to attract customers and clients through online media coverage, Internet advertising and other Internet-based services.
Another way in which positive publicity and direct marketing are used is through sales promotion. In times of economic decline, it is often difficult to generate new sales. However, a firm that understands the importance of gaining positive publicity can use various tactics to attract customers and improve sales. A prime example is direct marketing through the Internet. Companies can create their own websites and offer businesses and individuals free advice on improving their products and services. This can help improve a company’s reputation and increase sales.