Publicity is a subset of public relations, which includes employee, investor, and community relations; corporate communications; and other situations involving an organization’s communications with its publics. Publicity refers to those situations when the company, product, or service receives a free mention or more in editorial content, whether it is a product review, an interview with an executive, or an event announcement. It differs from other marketing options such as advertising or direct mail in that marketers do not – and cannot – pay for it. Because the company does not purchase it, the company cannot control it, either, but because of the implied editorial endorsement that comes from this free media exposure, publicity is a powerful element of the marketing mix.
It is important to note that publicity in global markets is as unpredictable as publicity in U.S. markets. A marketer will never know for sure if the product or service will receive exposure and will never be able to control the exposure received. Journalists might interview a competitor for an article about the product categoryor even make an error. This lack of control frustrates many marketers who like to orchestrate what is said about their products – as well as where and when. Those who can see past the unpredictability to the value of the credibility that comes from a media mention, however, know that publicity is an essential and affordable component of a complete marketing plan.