There has probably been more written about determining the value of publicity than any other element of the marketing mix. In a paper considering various publicity metrics, James L. Horton, wrote, “There are several ways to measure publicity value, but they largely ignore the process of persuasion and credibility of a journalist’s independent assessment. Publicity relies on credibility whereas advertising with an emphasis on media buying finesses it. An independent journalist must find a story credible before considering it, and while reporting the story, must continue to find it believable.” That is the essence of editorial.
Al Ries, the co-author of The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR noted, a product publicist stimulates the interest of editors. Given that news provides tremendous exposure and credibility for the manufacturer or distributor of a product being described by an editor, ask yourself the question: why get the exposure in the first place? The best answer was also given by Al Ries & Laura Ries who wrote, “Perception is everything. The only question is how to create a favorable impression in the customer’s mind. And advertising has racked up a poor track record in this respect.” Readers are much less likely to believe an advertisement.
Having prepared over 15,300 product releases, I have observed that the value of publicity is in the eye of the beholder, especially for smaller B2B companies. Based upon the Microsoft Corporation basis for evaluating publicity results, we can clearly demonstrate the likelihood that for every dollar spent for product publicity the return-on-investment will at least be 10 times better than conventional advertising. What’s more, we have many clients who have recorded actual, substantial sales traced back to a specific product release as their basis for ROI. Also, new business development, niche marketing, and distributor support are valuable benefits.
The importance of a consistent product publicity campaign was reinforced by Abby Robey, Sales & Marketing Manager of Xuron Corporation who said, “By continuing our regular schedule of publicity releases during the down times, I think we planted a lot of seeds that are now bearing fruit – our sales are up and best of all, we continue to reach new markets, helping to diversify our customer base. I recently had a phone call from one of our Manufacturer’s Reps who told me that he was bombarded with inquiries for Xuron products – he wondered if we were doing some kind of new advertising. To me the answer is simple – it’s the publicity. Also, our Web traffic continues to grow on a monthly basis. I can’t think of a better, or more cost effective way for us to reach so many markets.”
So, what is publicity worth? It depends upon your marketing objectives. There is no question though, that when executed properly product publicity is the most powerful element of the marketing mix; especially today. David Meerman Scott in “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” wrote about how to reach buyers directly using news releases, social media, online video, mobile applications, blogs, and viral marketing. His book is a very worthwhile read.
© 2015 Steven M. Stroum