Public relations and publicity are often used interchangeably.
It’s an error worth correcting. Although PR and publicity are related, they are not the same thing.
Here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition of publicity:
· Something that attracts the attention of the public.
· Attention that is given to someone or something by newspapers, magazines, television news programs, etc.
· The activity or business of getting people to give attention to someone or something.
PR pros might define publicity as news coverage, feature stories, executive interviews and speaking engagements. Publicity can be great for brands, building awareness and gaining exposure.
Doesn’t that describe public relations? Not exactly.
PR pros are responsible for a brand’s image, reputation and its business results. Publicity is only one aspect of a PR strategy. Sometimes, it’s up to a PR pro to avoid or deflect publicity.
Here are additional differentiators:
- Messaging and identity: Perhaps the most important duty of a PR pros is crafting core messages. They can get to the heart of a brand’s identity and establish what sets it apart from competitors. PR develops a brand’s language and personality. Marketers can then use their framework to craft advertising messages.
- Content and storytelling: PR teams work alongside marketers to develop compelling content. Their goal is to tell a brand’s story and encourage interaction from consumers.
- Reputation monitoring and management: Publicity isn’t always a good thing. It’s up to a PR pro to monitor a variety of communications channels to avoid negative attention. PR teams must ensure that a brand’s reputation remains positive and intact. Teams must decide whether and how to respond to negative comments and ensure that the positive outweighs the negative.
- Competitive analysis: PR teams must understand what their competition is saying about their brand and how they are getting their message out.
Sometimes monitoring competitors presents an opportunity for publicity. Mostly, it informs decisions about PR campaigns, messages and content.