Publicity is a way to get your company in front of potential customers. Unlike marketing, which can come across as a sales pitch, publicity often carries the authority of an independent voice. Proper use of publicity can result in higher sales, as your company and products are exposed to a wider net of customers. While publicity cannot always be directly controlled, strategies to garner publicity often prove beneficial to corporate growth.
Publicity and marketing are often used interchangeably to describe a company's promotional activity, but there are significant differences. Whereas companies generate their own marketing materials, publicity is granted by outside sources, such as the media. One of the biggest advantages of publicity is that it is usually free. A marketing staff and promotional activities can cost a company a significant amount of money. However, publicity -- ranging from unsolicited newspaper reviews to social media word-of-mouth -- typically costs nothing.
Consumers expect a certain level of bias or exaggeration in the commercials or advertisements a company produces about its products. However, third-party sources, such as magazine articles or online reviews, are often considered less biased. This is particularly true with reputable sources, such as longstanding publication houses or well-regarded professional reviewers. As opposed to company-generated claims, publicity from non-affiliated parties can often seem more credible in the eyes of your potential customers. While professional marketing can be effective, particularly if you offer high-quality products, positive third-party publicity can enhance your company's reputation.
Many companies that are successful over the long haul rely on the strength of their brand to cultivate new sales. If you can offer your customers a series of quality products that meet or exceed expectations, they may be more likely to give any new products you develop a try, simply by hearing the name of your brand. Successful branding typically takes time. Consistent publicity can help you strengthen your brand by repeatedly putting your company's name in front of potential customers. Over time, the public may grow to think of your company as a household name, which could set you apart from your competitors.
Although publicity comes from outside sources, it rarely comes about spontaneously. To get the ball rolling with possible sources of publicity, you'll have to pitch your company directly to various media outlets -- perhaps through a public relations professional, whose services can be contracted for a fee. Newspapers, magazines and social media sites can't write about something they don't know about, so you'll have to provide them with information that gets them interested in learning more about your company and spreading the word to their readers or followers. To be effective, you must target your message to the appropriate audience. To get repeat or ongoing coverage, you will need to have something new. The good news is that publicity often feeds on itself. If good reviews or comments about your business start popping up, it often gets other sources interested.