Publicity is inexpensive marketing

Why are some companies shifting more of their marketing budgets to publicity? Times are still tough and publicity is Cheap.

Ever feel like your company and its products are a best-kept secret? Promoting products can be expensive. Especially if your product isn’t yet a cash-cow brand. The good news is: publicity is a great way to spread the word. It’s highly effective yet low cost.

Let’s dig into why publicity is inexpensive.

Almost all of the zillions of ways you can promote your product fit into three main promotional channels: Personal Selling, Advertising and Publicity. The promotional channels are self evident; personal selling is your sales staff, advertising is ads, and publicity is media stories.

In two of the promotional channels – advertising and personal selling – you bear the costs. But not in publicity. And therein lies one of the many beautiful things about publicity: someone else pays the freight.

Let’s dig deeper.

The media sets the price of their ads to cover the cost of running their businesses. In many cases, especially with print, the cost of running a media outlet can be quite high. When you buy ads, you are ostensibly covering their operating costs and profit margins. That’s why ads are expensive.

When the public sees an ad, they know the advertiser has paid a fee. But it’s the opposite when it comes to content. The audience demands unbiased stories. They expect journalistic integrity, and that no money has changed hands between the media and subjects of their stories.

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.

The relationship between PR firms and the media is an interesting one. The media knows PR firms make money selling their stories. They also know that they can’t. Imagine how you would feel if you owned a media outlet. Your ad rates are to the moon because of your expenses. Then along comes the freeloading PR firms essentially selling your content and paying you nothing.

Why does the media tolerate this? One reason is that while PR firms may not pay money, they do a lot of the media’s work. Work that would normally be an expense. So, PR firms help keep down the media’s costs.

Another reason is PR firms make the reporter’s job easier. Many of our publicists are former reporters and producers. They understand the media’s needs and how to prep our clients’ stories. 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. Internally, we call our system “co-producing”. All this work is provided free to the media.

It’s a big country. Consider how many media stories that reporters and producers need every day. Millions for sure. It’s an endless job to grind out a continuous flow of new stories. Journalists welcome anything that helps take off the pressure. We simply make it easy for reporters and producers to do the story. That makes us a valuable resource.

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 budgets into PR. For them it was a matter of bang for the buck. Publicity excelled as a low cost way to tell their stories.

Years ago, we hired a media buying company to tell us how our publicity 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 1/10th 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 it to publicity. Very few companies tap all of the publicity that’s available to them. Most get almost none.

Give Heather Champine a call for a price. We think you will be pleased. 952-697-5269.




Written by Lonny Kocina

Lonny pioneered the concept of our nationally trademarked Pay Per Interview Publicity® business model which allows clients to purchase publicity by the story rather than pay hourly with no guarantee of coverage. His business foresight is evident in many ways including quickly reserving portal web addresses such as publicity, media relations, and checkerboard, and advising clients to do the same. In his spare time and as a way of giving back, Lonny teaches marketing as an adjunct faculty member at Dakota Technical College.

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