The terms publicity and public relations (PR) are often used interchangeably, but they’re in fact two very distinct disciplines.
We’ll discuss the main difference between the two in this article.
What Is Publicity?
Publicity is the act (some may call it the ‘art’) of attracting the media’s attention and gaining public visibility.
- Driving a Sherman tank down New York’s 5th Avenue to promote the launch of his Virgin Cola brand to the USA.
- Bungee jumping off the top of the Las Vegas Palms Resort to promote his Virgin America airline brand.
- Landing himself in the Guinness Book of World Records by travelling across the English Channel in a high-speed watercraft in an hour and 40 minutes.
- And about a dozen cameo appearances in movies and television.
What Is Public Relations?
Damage control is also part of PR and again it goes to show the difference between publicity and PR. When something goes bad, it might very well get a lot of publicity, especially if it involves a well-known celebrity or a large corporation because people love scandalous, juicy stories. However, it’s PR’s job to limit the damage to their client’s reputation and come up with a plan to bring it back up to par. This is known as crisis PR or crisis communications. A crisis PR team may work very closely with a legal team to minimize the pubic opinion damage, while at the same time avoid leaking any critical information that can damage their case in court.
Should You Get Publicity Or PR For Your Business?
Actually, you should be doing both. You should be garnering publicity as part of your overall public relations strategy. The most important thing to remember is that having a PR strategy in place is far more valuable for your business than simply getting an occasional mention in the paper or on television. You want to use publicity as well as your other communication channels to shape the way that your audience perceives your brand and the credibility associated with your brand.