What is publicity? Why is it good for your business?

What is publicity? Why is it good for your business?

When you see something in the media about a company this is publicity. The right publicity can have an amazingly powerful effect on a business; and better yet it doesn't need to cost a penny. The wrong publicity however can break a business. In this post we're going to examine examples of good and bad publicity so you can apply the right kind to your business. 

Coach Buzz says:

The Oxford dictionary defines publicity as notice or attention given to someone or something by the media. 

Whenever you see a mention of a business and/or their activities in a media outlet, chances are it wasn't an accident or "aligning of the stars". A rule of thumb to remember is that over half of all publicity is planned. (Probably the positive half)

Here at BuzzRamp we strongly believe that all publicity is not good publicity. Don't agree with us? Well you could ask the following companies for their opinion...

Uber. Whose former CEO was captured on camera arguing with an Uber driver over fares. (The irony)

or SeaWorld. Who were the subject of the now infamous documentary "Blackfish" that sheds light on the negative impact that SeaWorld have on killer whales in captivity. 

SeaWorld have seen their visitor numbers decrease significantly after the documentary became public. 

or Enron... *You can't as they don't exist anymore

Who in the late 1990's were one of America's largest and most successful companies. This was until it was revealed that it had carried out one of the world's biggest corporate fraud schemes.

or BP whose former CEO was fired as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and his controversial comments about it. This incident gained global media coverage and cost the company billions of pounds. 

or American Apparel.Whose former CEO was fired by the board of directors for sending inappropriate messages to employees and models. 

It's likely you've heard about at least one of the above incidents and you probably have a negative view of the respective companies as a result. Think about it. If you were famous (or infamous) for being a thief and you worked in the security industry, how would you be able to operate? 

Good examples of what good publicity can do for a business

Below are some examples of what can happen to your business as a result of having good publicity.


In 2006 Tom Dickson's blender business was struggling. Awareness and sales were low. So he hired a marketing director in George Wright. 

George had a genius idea of how to show how powerful and durable the blenders were. He got Tom to dress in a white lab coat and goggles and blend objects that you normally wouldn't find in a blender e.g. iPhones, CD's, marbles etc.

He then uploaded the footage to YouTube. 

People were amazed at the blender's power and the videos quickly went viral, gathering millions of views in the first week. 

The series "Will it Blend" now has over 300 million views on YouTube and most importantly has helped to increase the company's sales by 700% in two years. 

Here is one of the many weirdly  fascinating videos from Blendtec's "Will it Blend" series. 

Barclay Prime 

In Philadelphia, United States the cheesesteak is a cheap local food item. The maximum cost is normally around $5 or $6. Think of it as the Philadelphia equivalent of fish and chips in the UK. 

Like most American cities there is a lot of competition in the restaurant industry. 25% of restaurants fail in the1st year and 60% are gone within 3 years. 

So when Howard Wein opened Barclay Prime in Philadelphia in 2004 he knew he needed an innovative idea for his Barclay Prime restaurant to survive in this savage industry. 

So he began selling Philadelphia cheeseteaks for $100 (around 20 times more expensive than normal).

What do you get for $100? The meat is made of wagyu beef, one of the most highly prized beef types in the world. This is in addition to foie gras, truffled cheese and half a bottle of champagne. 

He turned the concept of cheap and cheerful to expensive and ...well more cheerful. 

You can visit Barclay Prime if you're ever in Philadelphia. It's been thriving for 13 years now, and is one of the most famous restaurants in the city. 

Tourism Queensland

In 2009 Tourism Queensland, launched a competition titled "best job in the world" where applicants from all over the world were invited to apply to be caretaker of Hamilton Island - a stunning tropical paradise off the coast of Australia. 

Over 35,000 people applied and the lucky, lucky winner Ben Southall eventually successfully landed the "best job in the world"  (It may have happened 8 years ago but I'm still jealous) 

The competition went viral generating over £54m in publicity. It was so good that Tourism Australia repeated the process in 2013 offering 6 different instead of one.

Tweet a Beer 

In 2012 PR firm Waggener Edstrom IT company TenFour and customer loyalty company Chirpify teamed up to launch Tweet a Beer at SXSW (pronounced South By SouthWest) festival. 

SXSW is a large group of music, media and film conferences and events held annually in Austin Texas, United States. Over 95,000 people attended in 2016. 

Tweet a Beer worked by allowing any Twitter user to send any other Twitter user $5 to their Paypal account to use for purchasing beer. 

The festival is a great networking opportunity for a lot of professionals from diverse backgrounds, and Tweet a Beer saw an opportunity to lubricate the wheels of commerce. 

The app gained nationwide coverage in national U.S. media outlets such as CNN and helped to significantly improve the brand awareness of Waggener Eddstrom Ten Four and Chirpify. 

Sensu & Ben Howard

Small marketing firm Sensu had a client, Ben Howard who was a singer from England with an almost non existent profile. To be frank, no one knew about him. 

Sensu set up a Facebook events page and told everyone there would be a free concert with free beer in Holland. 

They drove Ben to the location and as he began to perform, 500 people began to gradually fill the space. 

Numerous Dutch media outlets picked up the story and Ben's profile rose dramatically. 

He's since performed at Glastonbury festival and his Youtube page statistics impressively read Subscribers: 204,000 Views: 88.3 million. 

Below is the Sensu case study from this marketing campaign. 

And here is the video of Ben performing to those 500 people. 

The difference between good and bad publicity

Below is a comparison of the effects of good and bad publicity. 

Good Publicity

  • Low or no cost (Unless you pull an elaborate publicity stunt, for more information on this read our blog post about publicity stunts) then you won't have to spend much if anything. Making a connection with a media producer or journalist is what's important. 
  • Enhances your reputation as an expert in your field. 
  • Increase your sales
  • Enhance your brand perception
  • Take your business to places where no amount of marketing could ever do. 

Bad Publicity

  • Significantly decrease your sales
  • Severely damage your brand equity and perception. Sometimes beyond repair. 
  • Prevent you from acquiring new customers.
  • Helps your competitors
  • Loss of trust

Coach Buzz says:

With regards to the last negative point. You can do all the marketing you want, but you don't own a national or international media company. 

So you don't have access to 26 million homes in the UK. 

Now granted you could get around this by doing something that goes viral, but that's not an exact science. 

Publicity is storytelling

Good publicity is the motive here at BuzzRamp. We want to pick up a newspaper or magazine (yes some of us still do that) Or scroll through Facebook and see positive things about your business. 

One thing to bear in mind is that publicity to some degree is a story. Media outlets will try to build a specific narrative of the event, business or person they are reporting on. These stories need to be interesting to their readers. So just because you think it's great that your shop has a new brand new coffee maker doesn't mean that everyone else does. A good rule of thumb is to assume that no-one cares about your business. It's your job to make them care! 

For example YKK is one the world's largest suppliers of zippers (If you have a zipper on your clothing look closely at it, chances are it has YKK engraved into it). But good publicity can be hard to come by for a company like this, simply because zippers are, in and of themselves, quite boring. 

So if you were marketing YKK, what could you do to get some publicity? 

3 Publicity Objectives You Can Use Right Now

Depending on your marketing objectives (read more about how to create your own SMART Marketing objectives here) You'll want to get different types of publicity, for example: 

Industry Publicity - This is where you only tell people within your industry about what you're doing. This is a good tactic if you're a niche company that isn't particularly interesting to people outside your industry. 

We'll use YKK as an example again. Lets say they are launching a new type of zipper. 

The wider public are unlikely to care about zippers (until their a zipper isn't where its supposed to be) So they will only target those who work in a the fabric/clothing industry. 

For YKK this is also Target Audience Publicity as they don't sell to consumers. 

Target Audience Publicity - You only tell everyone within your target audience what you're doing/planning to do.

For example, Supreme the streetwear brand doesn't do any mass market advertising activities. This is because it has quite an "underground" brand perception that not everyone will easily understand. 

Hence why its activities are mainly reported on by specialist fashion and culture media outlets such as High Snobiety. 

You've probably never heard of them until now. Which means you're probably "uncool" to a certain section of society. No matter, they don't know about BuzzRamp and you're trying to improve your Marketing & PR skills, which makes you cool to us. 

Finally there is Mass Appeal Publicity - This is where you want to let everyone and their mother and their brother know about you're doing. 

Tesla are a great example of this. Even though they are essentially a tech company that happen to make cars. Their product launches have a mass appeal as they are huge events which the world's media is invited to. 

Also it always helps that they have made electric cars cool.  

Different types of media outlets

Depending on which type of publicity you decide on you're going to need to get in touch with a media outlet that is consumed by your target audience. If you need help with that read our blog post on getting in touch with journalists. Here's a small selection:

Industry specific/Trade (Best for Industry Publicity)

Audience specific (Best forTarget Audience Publicity)

Mass Market (Best for Mass Appeal Publicity)

Good publicity is always on time

Timing is vital when trying to gain good publicity. No one cares about Christmas in July. Unless Santa plans his annual all nighter way in advance. Good for you Santa, if you do and if you're reading this I'd like a new iPad and a new smartphone please (if you haven't planned to get me one already), thanks. 

Coach Buzz says:

Good publicity is always good for your business, bad publicity will make your whole life more difficult.

Want 5 tips that can quickly:

  • Increase traffic to your website?
  • Improve your social media profiles?
  • Help you communicate better with your customers? 
  • Create content that converts?

Now you know what publicity is, we look forward to seeing positive media coverage of your business in the near future. Remember that the only type of good publicity you want is positive. 

We're signing off for 2017.  Everyone here at BuzzRamp wishes you a Happy Holidays.

We'll be back in the New Year with more valuable & PR tips. Also we'll be launching our platform in the first half of 2018 so look out for that too! 

Until then.

Asher & the BuzzRamp team.