One of the Big Myths in PR: All Exposure is Good For Brand

Sometimes when you hear PR people speak they are only after the exposure. The more exposure of the brand the better they often think. This might be true in some cases but each brand should be analyzed thoroughly before just going for pure exposure.

There is an effect called the “mere exposure” effect. This basically says that the more times a consumer is exposed to a brand the more he will consider it. This is definitely true for low-interest goods like toothpaste or toilet-paper where Top of the Mind (TOM) goods often win the purchase decision.

If the brand is unknown it is often good gaining as much exposure as possible to build a brand salience. If more people know about the brand there will probably be some people who dislike the brand but at least a few of all those exposed will take a liking to the brand.  The ones that hate the brand a lot will talk about it with their friends and thereby spread it further, even in a bad framing some people will like the brand. It’s better exposing yourself gaining an enemy and a friend than  to please everyone.

If the brand already has a good brand salience and people know about it the exposure is not enough to strengthen the brand. To change the brand one has to modify the associations linked to it in order to build a stronger brand equity. This is something Studio Total, a Swedish PR-firm, missed when they put fire on 100 000 SEK. They got great coverage all over the world and were able to count a lot on the money value for buying all that space but the associations connected to the burning was negative. Since the brand salience of their client was already good they only managed to degrade the brand equity by attaching some negative associations with the brand.

I started thinking more about this after reading a Swedish debate article discussing the PR value of The Pirate Bay (TPB) compared to crown-princess Victoria of Sweden. It compared the impact they had on the brand Sweden by using statistics about exposure in different magazines and TV-shows abroad. The conclusion was that TPB was more valuable in a PR perspective since it contributed more coverage than the crown-princess did. In this case the situation is a bit different since TPB often is linked to positive associations for many people. Even people disliking TPB might have some positive technical innovation associations from being exposed to news about the brand. This linkage to something positive means that all exposure is good in this case.

Another example of when exposure is negative is the recent example of the oil spill in the Gulf by the British Petroleum (BP) company. If you count all the exposure they got the world over it was worth billions if they had to pay for it. In this case all this exposure was not good at all for the brand BP since it is now considered unsafe and very bad for the nature.

All exposure is good only if:
Brand salience need to be built
Positive associations are spread with the exposure

[pic: CC-BY-NC-SA, Ol.v!er [H2vPk] ]

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Josef Ohlsson Collentine

A transparent and kind American/Swede who likes cultural patterns and Social Media. A creative early-adopter who sports, discusses and explores. More about me
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