There is a popular misconception amongst people that PR and Publicity mean the exact same thing. But, it’s important to understand the difference between both.
Definition of Publicity
Publicity is a way of disseminating information to the public through the media. Publicity can be in the form of news, stories, event information or write-ups, aimed at creating awareness and credibility amongst the audience w.r.t a brand, product or the company offering them.
Publicity is a non-paid form of communication, and is generally not under the control of the company. It has nothing to do with company sales and just creates general awareness.
Definition of Public Relations
Public Relations, on the other hand, can be understood as the strategic management tool, which helps an organization build a relationship with the people. In PR, ‘public’ means the target audience- meaning a specific group of people interested in a product or service. PR is not only focused on getting public attention, but also aims at reaching the goals of the organization, by communicating the message to the right target audience. PR includes press releases, crisis management action plans, social media engagement, campaigns, etc.
Let’s understand this with an example. Suppose you are opening a café, will you need a publicist or a PR firm to attract the crowd? If an unfortunate incident hits your café, who is going to get you out of the mess? In very simple terms, Publicity will get you in headlines, but PR? PR creates your brand. Through publicity, you can create public awareness, and attract attention. On the other hand, through Public Relations, a whole lot of plans and strategies are involved to accomplish your goals by targeting the exactly right target audience.
PR manages the brand of a client while also building relationships with those associated with the brand. PR creates and manages an image- including the time of crisis. PR limits the damage that is caused to a client’s reputation and comes up with an action plan that helps maintain the reputation and keep business running. PR also works very closely with a legal team to minimize damage and avoid leaking any crucial information which can damage the case in court.
In the age of digitization, it is inevitable that the lines between publicity and PR have blurred. When anyone claims that they are a PR expert, it is very important to check that what they offer isn’t simple publicity. Ensure they are taking steps to establish relationships and are they finding time to connect to relevant audiences.
PR takes some help from publicity. That is no secret. While pitching a story, event or the latest development to the media, it isn’t the only aspect of the job. In PR, Publicity is viewed as a simple path to gain the client media coverage. But seeing the two as identical ignores the remaining job of a PR expert.
Along with crisis management, the tools of a PR pro include media kits, news releases, media monitoring, event organization, social media engagement, reputation management and media training.
PR agencies can also hold expertise in digital marketing, fashion PR, consumer marketing, food and drink PR or any number of different areas. As mentioned earlier, the coverage of a café opening is publicity. But the expansion stories, damage limitation following an unfortunate incident is pure PR.
In a nutshell, publicity and public relations are very much different from one another. Publicity is when someone or something is being noticed by the media, and people are informed about it. Public relations, is all about taking steps to maintain a good relationship with the correct people public, which includes customers, government, shareholders, creditors, suppliers, government, etc.