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 products.
"The Power of Publicity"