TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Listen to the podcast
- The differences between publicity, public relations and advertising
- 1. Advertising = commercial purposes vs. Publicity = provides information
- 2. Advertising = paid media vs. Publicity = earned media
- 3. Advertising = biased & less trustworthy vs. Publicity = outside opinions & credible
- In summary
- Infographic recap
- Ready to get started?
- Want more?
If you’ve ever wondered about the differences between publicity, public relations and advertising, and when to use each activity, this article is for you.
In it, we’ll cover 3 key concepts that will help you remember the differences.
You will also discover why people try to get their business or brand featured in the media, in online publications, vlogs or podcasts.
If you’d prefer to listen, click on the podcast episode.
Listen to the podcast
How publicity and public relations are different from advertising: 3 key concepts
If you’re continuing here in the blog, let’s get into it.
But first, I’d like to start with a quote.
Helen Woodward, the first female advertising executive in the US, famously said in 1938:
“Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”
That’s such a clear and simple way to look at it. (You can find her book here.)
If that’s all the explanation you need on the topic, that’s great. Please go ahead and read one of my other blog posts.
However, if you’re keen to learn more, keep reading.
The differences between publicity, public relations and advertising
People often think that advertising is the same as publicity or public relations, but really, they couldn’t be more different.
What is publicity or public relations?
Publicity and public relations are called earned media. It’s about earning the trust of the media and the wider public to get a business’s brand story told independently.
With PR strategies, you can gain publicity in the media, in online publications, YouTube channels and podcasts.
It’s all about convincing reporters, editors and hosts that YOUR STORY is worth telling, and that it’ll benefit the general public. This coverage is not paid for, it’s earned.
What is advertising?
Advertising, on the other hand, is called paid media, because, you guessed it, you PAY for it.
With advertising, you pay a specified amount of money to promote your brand.
You get complete control over the creative, your messaging, where and when you run your campaign.
So now, I’ll break down those key differences between publicity and advertising into three key concepts.
1. Advertising = commercial purposes vs. Publicity = provides information
Advertising promotes a product or service of a business, for commercial purposes. It’s under the control of the business.
Publicity talks about a product, service or business to provide information. It’s done by a third party that’s not related.
2. Advertising = paid media vs. Publicity = earned media
Advertising is a very expensive marketing tool that you pay for to build exposure for your brand. You have guaranteed placement and creative control.
Publicity, however, is free of cost, except if you hire a public relations professional to assist you.
There’s no guarantee your story will get a run, and you must persuade the media, online publications and hosts to feature you.
3. Advertising = biased & less trustworthy vs. Publicity = outside opinions & credible
Advertising is what a company says about its own product, service, or business. It’s a promotion designed to persuade its target audience.
Publicity is what others say. It’s unbiased and could be positive or negative.
As far as public opinion goes, advertising is considered less credible because it’s biased and purchased.
Whereas PR or publicity is believed to be more trustworthy.
If you or your brand get featured in a TV news bulletin, online article, video or podcast guest spot, it’s seen as validation by a trusted third party that your business is worth knowing about.
So those are the key differences between publicity/public relations, and advertising.
- Advertising is for commercial purposes, while publicity provides information.
- Advertising is paid media, while publicity is earned media.
- Advertising is biased and less trustworthy, while publicity takes into account outside opinions, and is generally considered more credible.
I hope this article has given you some insight into when is the best time to use publicty or advertising in your business. The right approach will depend on the result you want to achieve.
See the infographic below, How publicity is different from advertising, with a summary of the key points we just discussed.
Feel free to save it and use it with attribution.
Ready to get started?
If you want to discover your own stories that you can pitch to the media, online publications, vlogs, and podcast hosts, book your free audit with me.
Over 30 minutes, we’ll come up with potential stories so you get publicity for your business. If you’re interested, click the link here.
For more tips in public relations, video marketing, and content marketing listen to my new podcast series “Improve Your Content in 5 Minutes” by clicking here, or find me on your favourite streaming app.
If you’re interested in learning how to approach the media, listen to my podcast episode where I explain the differences between a “press release”, “media release”, “media alert” and “media pitch” or read it on the blog.