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The Power of Publicity


									The Power of Publicity

The Power of Publicity

One of the factors that most sets off publicity from the other program elements is the sheer power this form of
communication can generate. Unfortunately for marketers, this power is not always realized in the way they would
like it to be. Publicity can make or break a product or even a company.

The Johnson & Johnson marketing efforts (including a strong public relations emphasis) designed to aid recovery
were a model in proficiency that will be studied by students of marketing (in both the classroom and the boardroom)
for many years. By January 1983, almost 100 percent of the original brand share had been regained. When Odwalla’s
brand was threatened by negative publicity resulting from contaminated juice, the company immediately recalled the
product, increased safety measures, and paid medical bills for those who had become ill. It also established a website
and 800 numbers to make information easily available to concerned customers. The company has regained 100
percent of its market share as a result of these efforts. Unfortunately, a marketer cannot always capitalize on positive
publicity or control the effects of negative publicity so effectively.

Why is publicity so much more powerful than advertising or sales promotion—or even other forms of public relations?
First, publicity is highly credible. Unlike advertising and sales promotions, publicity is not usually perceived as being
sponsored by the company (in the negative instances, it never is). So consumers perceive this information as more
objective and place more confidence in it. In fact, Consumer Reports, the medium responsible for one of the examples
previously cited, recently ran an ad campaign designed to promote its credibility by noting it does not accept
advertising and therefore can be objective in its evaluations.

Publicity information may be perceived as endorsed by the medium in which it appears. For example, publicity
regarding a breakthrough in the durability of golf balls will go far to promote them if it is reported by Golf magazine.
Car & Driver’s award for car of the year reflects the magazine’s perception of the quality of the auto selected. Still
another reason for publicity’s power is its news value and the frequency of exposure it generates. When Krispy Kreme
opened a store in Woodbury, Minnesota, anxious consumers camped out overnight waiting for the store to open.
Every local television station covered the event—some with live reports from the scene. The free publicity
(advertising?) is often repeated in other locales where Krispy Kreme opens a shop, and it occurs for other well-hyped
products as well. The bottom line is that publicity is news, and people like to pass on information that has news value.
Publicity thus results in a significant amount of free, credible, wordof- mouth information regarding the firm and its

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