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The term prominence  is usually used in everyday life to designate the totality of outstanding personalities, but it can also neutrally mean the extent of individual public awareness, however acquired, and then refer not only to people but also, for example, to places. The word has come into use in German only since the beginning of the 20th century and is an equivalent to the literally synonymous term eminence, traditionally restricted to addressing high Catholic dignitaries.

Celebrities, or VIP's, are predominantly those people who are known for their public appearances. Celebrities are often actors, musicians and other entertainers who are frequently reported on in the press or on television. Politicians or athletes can also be prominent. In recent organizational theory and management research, it is assumed that CEOs of large companies also achieve broad public recognition. In addition to individual celebrity, collective celebrity is now also being researched, in that it is assumed that entire companies can become prominent.