The terms are often used interchangeably, but are quite different: public relations and publicity. One deals more with quality than quantity. One has more depth and the other merely exists. One elevates and the other creates only recognition. When it comes right down to it, public relations is what offers the most benefit for you or your brand and should be practiced most often, not publicity.
Contrary to popular opinion, the goal of any good public relations program is not to be seen anywhere and everywhere. That’s publicity. Public relations is more strategic. It is concerned with ensuring, as much as possible, that key messages are communicated with accuracy and impact.
Publicity wildly broadcasts to anyone and everyone, without discretion. Public relations, however, places priority on the most effective media outlets, those that have at least a somewhat sizable audience or community and that represent the specific target for the person or brand.
The goal of publicity is merely to be seen. There is some value to that, but the highest and best calling comes from creating perceptions, strengthening belief and influencing behavior. That’s what true public relations is concerned with accomplishing.
Anyone can be involved in publicity. Public relations takes an insightful strategic planner. It takes someone who can say no to the 90 publicity opportunities in order to focus on and properly execute the 10 real public relations opportunities.
For the public relations professional there are two roads to take. Which one are you on?
Let me know what your take is on this issue.
Author: Steve Sonn
Steve Sonn is the Principal of S2 Marketing Communications. He has more than 25 years of marketing and PR experience with health care and business-to-business companies.