How to Market Without Spending Money: Publicity Communications

Publicity Communications

Publicity communications regards any promotion which relies on word of mouth. With the exception of donations, sponsorships, and other costs, there are no fees or payment required for this kind of exposure. This type of communication does not require use of the Internet, thus it differs from digital communications. As it does not rely on directly speaking with customers, it is not direct either. Most often, publicity is more subtle. It is about nudging your customers in the right direction without directly selling to them. Finally, publicity differs from advertising because it is non-paid and does not necessarily rely on using a mass-media channel. While one could argue the news is a form of television, an advertisement is not paid for- but rather discussion is generated naturally.

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Topics typically associated with Publicity Communications include:

  • Public Relations
  • Buzz Marketing
  • Guerrilla Marketing
  • Events
  • Sponsorship
  • Charity and Cause-Related Marketing
  • Partnerships

Benefits of Publicity

The benefit of publicity is that if done well, it can have the largest impact for the smallest investment needed. By gaining public approval and awareness through word-of-mouth, you spend virtually nothing and yet reap the benefits of advertising.

Publicity is also quite flexible if handled correctly. For example, to personalise your messages, holding a networking event would be a great way to find out about your customers and tell them individual, customised benefits of using your company or product. To reach an audience in a much broader way, Guerrilla Marketing, sponsorships, and partnerships may be a better method. By undertaking publicity, not only are you engaging your audience in a unique way, but you are engaging your audience with your brand.

Another big benefit of publicity is trust. Where customers are often wary of other forms of marketing, publicity is your chance to appear genuine. Customers trust word-of-mouth and the news much more than they would trust what an ad claims. Because it is indirect, you have the chance to be much more persuasive than blasting them with benefits could get. The best salesmen are actually your loyal customers. Do not forget to reward them!

Disadvantages of Publicity

The big drawback of publicity communications, however, is that to achieve such great benefits, control is sacrificed. Your brand is put out in the open for praise as well as criticism. Nothing is certain when a brand is put in the hands of the consumer and word of mouth is relied on. If consumers find value in your brand, it will flourish. If they find a weakness, it will be exploited.

To conduct publicity properly, the brand must be willing to accept its faults. To do this, try identifying the brand’s weaknesses first. Define it’s strengths and lead with that, but be prepared for criticism. Be honest and transparent, and work with consumers. Find yourself on the defensive, and your audience will go on attack. Instead, put yourself in a position where communication is two way. You are working with them to better define your brand just as much as you are promoting it.

Another important point with publicity campaigns is that brands have to be flexible and responsive. It is one thing to say that you are trying your best, but it is another to take constructive feedback and act on it. Listen to what consumers are saying. If they hate a certain product, be prepared to pull it or change it. If they hate a certain aspect of your brand, change that too. While marketing is never about trying to please everyone, publicity is all about making sure you do all you can to please those whom are important. If they are unhappy, adapt.

Finally, good publicity campaigns are generous. While you are not spending money on advertising fees, giving back to the community is an important aspect of good publicity. Consumers like hearing about companies which care about them- whether that’s through contributing to a local charity or giving away products to your loyal customers. Give the consumers something meaningful both to them as well as the brand, and your company will be hard to hate.

So to summarise publicity- the most important points before conducting one includes ensuring that a brand’s faults are identified and accepted, that you are prepared to change these faults, and you are prepared to give back to consumers. Everything else is just common sense. Don’t insult your target audience, and be true to what your brand stands for. The rest is in their hands.

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