Two types of visibility

I just finished a webinar for PRWeb and talked about the research we did with SNCR about online news releases (pdf). I love Jiyan Wei (PRWeb product manager, he moderated the session) because he asks really good questions. One question he asked us today was to define visibility:

Everybody wants to gain visibility with news releases, but what is visibility?

I was lucky that Richard, my co-presented, was put on the spot first and I had a few seconds to think about this question 🙂

Here’s what I came up with, let me know if it makes sense to you:

I think about visibility as being of two types: push and pull, for lack of better terms.

Push visibility is the visibility you have when you “cut through the clutter” and your name (brand, product, etc.) makes headlines. People see it whether they want to or not. This is the type of visibility public relations and advertising have traditionally tried to achieve.

Pull visibility means being visibile and available when people need you and search for you. You might not be making headlines, but you are using the right keywords and showing up in relevant online searches. To use Richard’s company as an example, when people are looking for a Web development company in NY, Pillar should show up in the search results.

Traditionally, PR people have struggled to achieve push visibility, but given the changing landscape of media, of information availability, and information searching behaviors, for most of us, it is pull visibility that will make or break the bank.

In our survey results, people complained about not being able to cut through the clutter – not making headlines (i.e. not achieving push visibility). That’s OK. Not everybody can be in the headlines. As long as you are there for your audience when they need you, you’re OK.

What do you think? Does thinking about visibility in these terms help you?