Publicity as part of the marketing mix

WhiskWhat’s so great about publicity that we turned it into an art and created a whole business around it? After all, publicity is only a subset of PR, which is a subset of marketing. Shouldn’t advertising be included in the marketing mix in equal measure?

Articles and books about the power of publicity – or PR in general – are being published all the time.

The return on investment for publicity and advertising is difficult to measure, but an article based on a recent book, Unleashing the Power of PR, offers the closest I’ve yet seen to hard evidence.

And when the big guys, like Proctor & Gamble and AT&T, sing the praises of media exposure, it reminds me that we don’t choose publicity only because we’re small businesses and publicity is cheaper – we choose it because the ROI is unquestionable, whatever the size of your business.

Publicity Builds Brand in the Internet Age strengthens the evidence by drawing on The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, by Al Ries.
There are two interesting points made here:

1. Brands – traditionally built with advertising – are shown to be more effectively built through publicity. Advertising comes into play once the company has been established in the public psyche and the brand needs to be maintained, or reinforced.

2. Personality and expertise are effective publicity tools – we can’t all be Richard Branson or Anita Roddick, but we are all experts in our own field, and being willing to participate in public conversations, whether in the press or online, guarantees a payback for your business.

Again, this is reassuring message for small businesses agonising over where to spend their marketing budget.

It seems that in the growth phase, publicity – which can cover media coverage, online exposure, and networking – does bring results.

Advertising in directories can work well for niche enterprises in particular, and Google Adwords can give you a leg-up until your SEO/blogging strategy takes effect, but big budget ads can wait.