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            People confuse public relations with its activities and parts. For example, many think that “Publicity” is all that constitutes public relations. Sometimes people think that publicity is just pure propaganda; however, much information in the media originates outside the media, often from public relations sources. These sources have little or no control over if, when, and how it will be reported because they do not pay for the placement. Media decision makers use the information because they think that it has news value and will be of interest to their audiences. They may change the original information or how it is presented, usually without identifying the source. In the eye of readers, listeners or viewers, each medium carrying the information is the source.





     In this module, you will learn about: 


1.      What is publicity?

2.      What are the basic principles of publicity?

3.      The types of publicity

4.      The strategic considerations

5.      The method for attracting and maintaining attention





What is Publicity?


            Understandably, some confuse publicity with the broader concept of public relations. Public Relations evolved from publicity. Much of contemporary practice is directed to generating publicity. In fact, some organizations use publicity release and special events as the major strategies for achieving public relations objectives. There is more to the public relations function than publicity.

            Publicity is information from an outside source that is use by the media because the information has news value. It is uncontrolled method of placing messages in the media because the source does not pay the media for placement.


Print media probably received a press release, feature story with photographs, or press kit including detailed background information. Broadcast media may have received a broadcast-style news script, recorded interview, video news release (VNR), or press kit including materials suitable for broadcast. 


            Publicity can be opposed both to privacy and to secrecy. To get the publicity, the source must know what type of information will attract media attention, identify a newsworthy lead, and write and package the information in a form acceptable to each medium. It helps to have a reputation among journalists as a trustworthy news source.


v      Examples of publicity include a story:


1.      In the financial section about increased earnings for a major corporation.

2.      A columnist’s item on the progress of a charity fund-raising campaign.

3.      A feature story in the health section announcing the latest scientific findings from a cancer research center.

4.      An entertainment calendar listing of the local appearance of your favorite music group.

5.      Television news coverage of the new civic center dedication ceremony.  



These stories no doubt were originated by the corporation’s public relations department, charitable organization’s director of donor relations and development, university medical center news bureau, music group’s publicist, and the mayor’s director of the media relations(sometimes called “press secretary”).


Another publicity method uses newsworthy events to attract media coverage. Groundbreaking ceremonies, ribbon cuttings, anniversary open houses, reunions, dedications, telethons, marathons, ceremonial appointments, honorary degrees, contract and legislation signings, organized protests, press conference, and other special events are designed primarily as “news”. Successful publicity events have obvious news value, offer photo, video, or sound recording opportunities, and are arranged primarily for media coverage.




            A publicist is a person whose job is to generate and manage publicity for a product, public figure, especially a celebrity, or for a work such a book or movie. Publicists usually work at large companies handling multiple clients.



What are the basic principles of publicity?


            We introduce a few dimension of the concept of the publicity as it is used in work. As for many questions, the ideas of “public rules” and “ public reason” have now become important in political psychology.


            An activity or program is not worth much unless every one knows about it!!! Here’s the low-down on how to publicize an event, and make people say “wow” over a great publicity.




Basic Principles of Publicity


1.    CREATIVITY.  Put creativity into your publicity!  You can generate more enthusiasm and interest by using unique, fresh, and clever methods of promotion.  Developing gimmicks or logos, utilizing pictures and unusual shapes are all ways in which publicity can be made more attractive.


2.     VARIETY.  If no one types of publicity reaches the entire audience, you must use more than one.  More than one medium can also reinforce and intensify your message.  Use a variety of techniques that work well together and complement each other.


3.      QUANTITY.  An advertisement must be seen or heard several times before it has any impact.  The more often it is seen or heard, the greater the retention of your message.  Thus, you can magnify the impact of your publicity by increasing the frequency with which it is seen or heard.


4.      VISIBILITY.  Since the frequency with which publicity is seen or heard is crucial to its effectiveness, it makes sense to place your publicity in locations that have high visibility.  Areas with the greatest traffic patterns usually have the highest visibility.  Good locations include: mailbox areas, cafeteria walls, bathrooms and bathroom stalls, under or on room doors, bulletin boards, etc.


5.       LEGIBILITY.  How often an advertisement is seen will have little impact if what is seen is not legible.  The greater the legibility, the greater the chances that an individual will read all of the information.  Greater legibility is ensured by using lower case lettering rather than uppercase.  Capitals may be used for emphasis; but to be effective, emphasis must be used sparingly.


6.              UNDERSTANDABILITY.  Even if your message is readable or can be heard well, it must be understandable to get the message across.  You can make your publicity more understandable and more effective by incorporating the following points:

                             i.     Be concise and clear.

                            ii.     Avoid excess verbiage.

                           iii.     Use terminology that the target audience would understand.

   7.       ADVANCE NOTICE.  Publicize well enough in advance.  If publicity goes out too late, it does not give people enough time to plan to attend an activity.  For optimum exposure, publicity should be out at least one week before your activity is scheduled to take place; however, you may want to issue additional publicity pieces as the event approaches.


An ideal publicized event might work like this:


10 days before                              Teaser posters in the bathrooms and lounges.

7 days before                                Ad in personal pages of newspaper.

5 days before                                Posters and signs in residence halls.

                                                      Table tents in study lounges.

3 days before                                Word of mouth campaign initiated.

1 day before                                  Banner near major entrance/exit way.

The Day                                        A round-up reminder a half-hour before.


Types of Publicity


The following section lists numerous means by which you can publicize events.  Some of these ideas will be familiar to you, while others will hopefully provide you with some innovative and more creative ways of effectively publicizing activities.


Inexpensive Publicity Techniques


POSTERS:                 The essential purpose of a poster is the rapid telling of a single message using a limited number of elements.  Posters are viewed more rapidly than are other methods of advertisement; hence, their message must be strong, simple, and brief.


FLYERS:                    A smaller version of the poster is the flyer.  They are usually made on 8 ” x 11 or 8 ” x 14 paper.  An advantage is that they can be reproduced easily at minimal cost.


TABLE                        Table tents should be made of a thick or heavy grade of paper that will stand

TENTS:                      firm.  Table tents can be placed in visible locations including the lounge, lobby, dining hall, and on desk tops.


TICKETS &                You can purchase printed tickets or make your own.  Free tickets, like invitations,

COUPONS                can be placed in mailboxes, handed out or slipped under doors.  The coupon

might entitle the person to a discount admission price or a free drink.  Coupons can be included on flyers or on printed schedules, and this may prevent your advertisement from falling victim to the trash can.


CALENDAR:               A large calendar of activities located in a central location is a particularly effective technique.  Students will have at least one consistently identifiable source for information on activities.  Also, smaller calendars of activities can be copied or mimeographed and put into mailboxes.



BALLOONS:              You can write a message on the balloon or put the message on a piece of paper inside the balloon.  Balloons can be tied with string to student’s door knobs, handed out at the entrance of the building, or handed out in dining hall lines.


TELEPHONE             A quick way to get word out on activities or meetings is to identify a number of

PYRAMID:                 people, five for example, who would call five other people.  The five people

would then be responsible for calling five other people, and so on, and so on.


BANNERS:                 A large extension of the poster, these can be hung outside your residence hall or in your main lobby.  A bedsheet or old shower curtain will make a good size banner.


WORD OF                  And of course, there is the time-honored word-of-mouth technique.  This is

MOUTH:                    perhaps the     oldest, yet most effective way to get the word out.  Go door to door

and personally inform people of the activity; and remind them frequently, so that they don’t forget.


Putting it All Together


After you have decided what types of publicity will best reach your target audience, you will need to be sure that you have the necessary materials and/or equipment available to produce the publicity piece.  These materials are readily available and inexpensive.


Basic Materials might include:

1.     Poster Board                                    

2.     Construction Paper

3.     Newsprint

4.     Colored Markers

5.     Rub-On Letters

6.     Stencils

7.     Scissors

8.     Water Color and Poster Paints

9.     Glue Stick

10.  Masking and Scotch Tape

11.  Ruler

12.  Colored Chalk



Strategic Considerations


  1. Visibility


                People should know about your event or campaign even if they’re completely oblivious to everything else going on at your school.



  1. Simplicity


Keep your message short, understandable, and simple. People should get a good idea of what you’re doing with just a brief description.


  1. Language


Don’t use jargon, slogans, or acronyms with out defining them. A complex issue can be explained in ways that even a most apathetic can understand.


  1. Positivity


Progressive groups are often criticized for over-emphasizing the negative. In your publicity (as well as your activism in general), balance critique with positive alternatives.


  1. Creativity


Much publicity on campuses is dull, dull, dull. Be creative! One group put messages about their campaign in fortune cookies and handed them out. Colorful, visual, irreverent, interactive, 3-dimensional, eye-catching publicity is more effective. But don’t let creativity obscure your message.  


  1. Repetition


People should hear or read about your event at least seven times. No kidding, after the first few times, people who might not otherwise come or participate will become interested.


  1. Reputation


You do publicity both for your event and for your group in general. There is nothing wrong or shameful about promotion your group by clearly listing your group’s name, a contact person the time of your next meeting, how people can get involved, etc.



Methods for Attracting and Maintaining Attention


What makes effective publicity?


Element of Surprise                  Selling Point

Layout                                       Simplicity







1.     Illustrations


Illustrations are one of the most effective methods for increasing the attention value to advertisement.  A picture helps convey the message more easily, more quickly, and more completely.  Where do you get your picture ideas?


                        Books                                                  Posters

                  Magazines                                           Clip Art

                                    Catalogues                                          Travel Agencies

                                    Newspaper Ads                                  Coloring Books


2.     Headlines


Headlines are the most important words of an advertisement because approximately 90% of the viewers only read the headlines.  The functions of a headline are the threefold:  1) to assist the illustration in seizing attention; 2) to arouse the reader’s interest; and 3) to attract the target audience.


3.     Color


Color can be used in publicity to attract attention, to develop interest, to create desire, and to stimulate action.  The value of color lies in its contrast affect and its illustrative value.  This will link you to an illustration of a color wheel.  Primary colors include red, blue, and yellow.  All colors except black and white can be made by mixing these three colors.  Secondary colors include orange, green, and purple.  These colors are made by mixing two primary colors (i.e. red + yellow = orange).  Never use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel because lettering will not show up well (i.e. blue felt pen on purple paper).  The most effective way to use colors is to use those which are located directly across from one another on the color wheel or use colors that are found at the three points of the triangle.  The triangle can be drawn anywhere on the color wheel.


4.     Lettering


Lettering is an integral part of any publicity.  You should only place lettering that is necessary to what needs to be said.  Too much type of any piece of publicity is ineffective.  Letters should be positioned to ensure optimum readability.

Types of lettering include:

         Speedball pen and ink


         Dry Transfer


         Magic Markers held at difference angles


5.     Borders


Borders serve to increase attention value, lend unity and compactness, separate items, and add a decorative value.  Your building supervisor has access to a “border book” housed in the Department of Housing and Residence Life’s reference library.


6.     Timing of Publicity


Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish each task in your publicity campaign; plan; acquire the necessary materials; have things printed (if applicable); post materials; and leave time for a second wave of publicity.  During the 2-5 days before the event, remind people via new posters, notes on bathroom mirrors, or through some other creative means.


7.     Some Publicity Do’s and Don’ts


Just a few reminders to help your publicity maintain its effectiveness!


        DO                                                                  DON’T

*Use graphics in your posters.            *Don’t post flyers and


Good eye catchers make them                  on windows, trees,

                                                                        or walls around

easily understood.                                                 Campus.


*Make lettering large enough to       *Don’t place publicity in

be seen on your posters                         areas where it will

from a distance.                                   get lost among other



*Use odd shapes in your posters;     *Don’t put together

                                                                     publicity in

be creative.                                                      a hurry!


*Make sure to make your messages      *Don’t limit yourself

                                                                            to just one

short and sweet.                                           kind of publicity.


*Place announcements in high     *Don’t forget to use all the

traffic areas!                                               resources on



*Identify your target audience.            *Avoid dittos and plain 

                                                                        black on white



8.     Follow-up


Remember to remove all publicity you have put up the day after the event has taken place.  This step in the publicity process is most frequently forgotten.  When posting your publicity, it helps to make a list of the locations where you post information such as the removal of “old news” is made easier for you.


It was the intention of this publicity section to introduce you to some new, exciting, and creative ways of publicizing hall and/or campus programs and events.  By utilizing the planning and follow-through techniques outlined in the manual, it is hoped that:


i.               Your knowledge of effective publicity techniques has been    

broadened and strengthened.

ii.           You will utilize several means of publicizing rather than employing only one type.              

                        iii.     Your publicity will be read.

                        iv.     Your activities will be better attended.



                                                      Submitted by: Erika D. Gonzales



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