The Difference Between Publicity and Public Relations

To be honest, there are a slew of different definitions regarding what publicity is and how it differs from public relations. Publicity and publicists are generally viewed as being connected solely with the entertainment world.  Actors and actresses have publicists.  Feature films have publicists.  In a way the term has become archaic.  Whereas not only actors and singers have publicists, basically a traditional publicist is the Hollywood rep we’ve all come to know.  They place their clients in the media, take them to events, do red carpet walks, set up press conferences, etc.   Whereas companies in any field need media coverage, most need the services of a public relations firm, as opposed to a publicist.

Public relations is a unique marketing approach.  Unlike advertising where an ad firm can control the content and the placement, a publicist can control the content that he or she delivers to the media he or she cannot control its placement or how the media presents the story. There are different ways of getting stories placed.  There is the proactive approach where you pitch an editor, writer or producer a particular story or angle and there is the reactive approach where a journalist contacts you looking for someone to interview for his or her story.  There are also times where you see that a particular story is being covered.  Then there are different types of stories, there are those that feature you as the main focus.  Those are features that spotlight you, your product, your service or your story.  Then there are stories or segments where you or your company or product are included in an already existing story.

On the other hand a well placed news story can be much more valuable than an ad or a commercial because of the validation and credibility factors business people and entrepreneurs generally feel they don’t need publicists.  In point of fact they do need publicity, but that is simply one part of an overall public relations program.  Public relations is a much broader topic.  It encompasses publicity but publicity is only one piece.  Public Relations is an umbrella term that can include investor relations, crisis communications, media training, special events and sponsorships, and other activities.

In fact many people use the terms interchangeably what one calls a PR consultant another will call a publicist, and what one person refers to as publicity another will call a media relations campaign.  The terms don’t matter as much as the ways the campaigns are structured and the results.  The bottom line in any PR or publicity, or media relations, or public relations campaign is creating effective compelling stories.  Effective PR is the art of good storytelling.  For a campaign to work it’s important to define the story, develop written material that tells that story, understand the target market, and find the media that communicates with that market and present that story in a compelling manner that meets the media’s needs.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

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Categories: Marketing, PR, Public Relations, publicity

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