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Fame, prominence, and how your company can benefit from influence

By Lindsey Chastain

The celebrity, industry legend, and prominent local all reveal the importance of branding.


People taking pictures of someone famous.Fame has many forms, from globally-known industry legends to niche, local celebrities. Some figures gain recognition through individual achievement, while others achieve prominence through association with existing icons. Throughout the spectrums of prominence and fame, the megastar and the prominent local both have influence on different audiences. 


While the pinnacle of superstardom may elude most, meticulous messaging and reputation management can help any individual or brand stand out and gain prominence. With the right strategy, even a locally prominent figure can command some influence. A strategic approach in branding and public relations is often the key to amplify visibility and progress from the obscure to the newsworthy. 


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To find out what works best for your company, let's examine what fame and prominence can achieve for company branding and influence.


The proxy celebrity: famous by association

Not all celebrities bask in the glow of household name status. Many public figures derive their fame through association. Like planets orbiting a star, these proxy celebrities reflect the luminous shine of another’s prominence. 


For example, you likely can’t name the CEO of Coca-Cola, but when identified as the head of one of the world’s most iconic brands, James Quincy would command attention. Part of his notoriety stems from affiliation, not his own name. Proxy celebrities could be spouses of star athletes, children of celebrities, the face of a famous franchise, and so on.


These figures can derive fame from association rather than individual achievement. Their job or expertise, though, could grant prominence in an industry, with their personal names or lives still unknown to the general public.


The local name: big fish in small ponds

You don’t have to be an A-lister to be a celebrity or a prominent person. Niche fame can transform figures into household names within a specific region or domain.


For example, local newscasters and politicians are often famous in their hometowns without wider recognition. A city’s longtime mayor would cause heads to swivel at the grocery store but nowhere else.


Similarly, figures prominent in a certain industry are big fish in small ponds. The legendary quarterbacks could go unrecognized outside of the football fandom. Genre writers are superstars at Comic-Con but not the Oscars. Their fame is circumscribed by subculture boundaries.


While their recognition may not be universal, locally prominent figures wield significant cultural cachet in their spheres of influence. Their fame resonates deeply in targeted demographics, if not broadly across populations. Regional celebrities and niche superstars enjoy special status.


The industry legend: importance varies by genre

Beyond entertainment and politics, fame pervades the business world. Industry icons are the billionaires and captains of industry who reshape the marketplace. 


Household names like Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey defined their fields for generations. While not every consumer can name Apple’s current CEO, everyone knows the company’s legendary founder. 


These trailblazers signify more than just business success. They embed themselves in culture through fame, legacy, and mythmaking. Their stories, failures, and triumphs ripple across history. 


Today’s moguls aspire toward this rarefied air: the Ambani brothers in India, Zhang Yiming of TikTok, and Kylie Jenner in cosmetics. Like knights seeking the holy grail, they quest for icon status and everlasting fame.


But true industry icons aren’t made overnight. It takes relentless ambition mixed with serendipity. As with LeBron in basketball or Ford in automobiles, icons alter how we live, dream, and consume. Their names echo through time as shorthand for transformation.


How can your company use prominence to gain brand authority?

Prominence refers to well-known or important people, organizations, or events involved in an industry and even a story in the news. The more prominent the subjects of a story, the more newsworthy.


In news media, if an event involves prominent public figures, famous celebrities, Fortune 500 companies, or major world events, it has a high level of prominence and is more likely to grab attention from the headline alone. A news story about a major policy change at Apple or statements from the U.S. president, for example, has prominence.


A news story centered around unknown or obscure people, groups, or events has low prominence. Without name recognition or public awareness, low-prominence stories are typically harder to pitch, and low-prominence companies are typically not a consumer’s first choice. However, as discussed earlier prominence can look like a local celebrity or an industry legend, not necessarily a globally-known name.


There is one thing all forms of fame and prominence have in common: branding and messaging. Whether it's a household name, proxy celebrity, local figure, or an industry icon, their reputations and public images are carefully crafted and maintained through strategic PR and branding efforts. 


The power of a brand can turn an individual into an icon, elevate a company to the top of its industry, or make a local figure the beloved townie. Effective branding and messaging can transform a person or event into an attention-grabbing sensation, making it more likely to capture public attention and become newsworthy. Ultimately, the importance of branding cannot be overstated in today's media-saturated world, where a carefully crafted image can mean the difference between obscurity and superstardom.

For more information about how we can elevate your PR strategy, contact us today or book a one-on-one consultation.


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Topics: PR tips, branding

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