Publicity is inexpensive marketing. Here’s why.
A few years ago I was waiting to catch a plane and struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me. We eventually got around to the “What do you do for a living?” question and I went first. I started telling him how I own a business that calls reporters and producers all over the country and persuades them to do publicity stories about our clients. I said we charge per story and that it was a great business.
As I talked I could see anger and disgust welling up in him. He wrinkled up his face like someone who just smelled dog poop on someone’s shoe. Most people find what we do interesting, so I was taken aback by his reaction.
When I asked what he did, he said he owned a newspaper.
The relationship between my company and the media is an interesting one. Like the guy at the airport, they know we make money selling their stories. They also know they can’t. Imagine how you would feel if you owned a newspaper. Your ad rates are to the moon because of your expenses. Then along comes the freeloader selling your content cheaper than you can sell your ads.
So why does the media tolerate this? One reason is, we do a lot of the media’s work: work that would normally be an expense. We think up the mediagenic story lines, we provide research, we arrange for experts to be interviewed, we create interesting visuals, and we do lots of other legwork. All this work is provided free to the media. So, we help keep the media’s cost down.
Another reason is, we make the reporter’s job easier. A handful of people in the media make big money, but not most. Media folks are notoriously underpaid and overworked. Consider how many media stories reporters and producers need every week. Millions for sure. It’s an endless job to grind out a continuous flow of new stories. Journalist welcome anything that helps take the pressure off. We simply make it easy for reporters and producers to do the story and that makes us a valuable resource. From their vantage point, we are a real help.
It’s not that the media wouldn’t love to charge for their stories. They would. Imagine how much extra revenue they could generate. You think ads are expensive? If the media could sell their stories, suddenly million dollar Super Bowl ads would seem like something out of the bargain bin at Walmart.
While the background story of why publicity is inexpensive may be interesting, the important point is that publicity is cheap. It’s an effective way to stretch your marketing budget.
In some cases, our clients have been so impressed by using publicity to get the word out, they have shifted most of their marketing budget to us. For them, it was a matter of bang for the buck. Media coverage excelled as a low-cost way to tell their story.
Years ago we hired a media-buying company to tell us how our prices compared to advertising. They took all of the publicity we arranged for three months and compared it directly to ad rates. Amazingly, our prices were one tenth the cost of buying the equivalent amount of ad space and time.
If you are feeling pinched for marketing dollars, you should consider shifting more of them to publicity. Very few companies tap all of the publicity that’s available to them. Most get almost none.
Take a few seconds to fill out the form below. Get in touch with us and see if media coverage might be something you’ve been missing out on. We can tell you pretty quickly how many stories we think you could get and much they would cost.
Lonny Kocina, CEO and Founder
Media Relations Agency