I went straight to an expert to get a straight/easy-to-understand answer:

“A simple explanation would be that publicity is part of PR. Publicity is about seeking media attention, where as PR is managing reputation. Publicity falls under the umbrella of PR, much like advertising and PR fall under the umbrella of marketing.”

Edgardo Rossetti, Public Relations Program Manager, Events & Social Media at Adams & Knight, Named one of the Top 10 Male Pinners by Digiday

What’s the difference between Publicity and PR?

One thought on “What’s the difference between Publicity and PR?

  • November 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I like Edgardo Rossetti’s simplified explanation of the differences between Publicity and PR. As I mentioned in class, I feel that there are definite distinctions between the two even though they both essentially revolve around presenting something about a company (a product, idea, opinion, story, person, etc. etc. etc…) to people outside of the said company.

    In class, I gave an example of how publicity and PR function within book publishing, the field in which I have the most experience. When a publishing house is releasing a new book, the publicity department works to pitch the book and the author to as many media outlets as possible to increase the author’s exposure and the public’s awareness of the new book. If done well this publicity effort, or “seeking media attention” as Rossetti defines it, will hopefully increase the sales of the book. While discussing PR in class, Gretchen suggested that it could be defined as “brand reputation management,” and I think this perfectly summarizes what I, and Rossetti, view as PR.

    I think publicity in magazine publishing is, at least in part, not focused on the promotion of a single issue but in the promotion of the magazine brand as a whole. For example, if Apple announces the release of a new product and a news or media outlet would like a technology industry expert to comment on the product, they might ask the Editor-in-Chief of Wired. The editor wouldn’t necessarily instruct viewers of the news program to go out and buy an issue of Wired, but his expertise displayed through a news/media outlet would serve to increase awareness of the magazine for the audience of whichever news/media outlet on which he appears. In terms of magazine PR, this would come into effect when a magazine is accused of outrageous Photoshop practices, for example. The PR department would determine what messages to convey to the media and the public, if any, in order to best manage and preserve the magazine’s reputation.

    I interned for six months in both publicity and PR at Barefoot Books. At this company, PR and publicity fell under the umbrella of the Communications Department. Publicity tasks included seeking reviews and media coverage for new books, whereas PR responsibilities included fielding questions from the media and writing press releases about what made Barefoot Books unique as a brand. Specifically, Barefoot Books made headlines when they announced they were to become one of the first book publishing companies to cease selling on Amazon. The PR part of the communications department went to work to get in front of the story and make sure that Barefoot Books’ actions and opinions were accurately represented. This included securing media coverage about the Barefoot Books CEO in Forbes and Fortune Magazine (among others) which is huge for an independent children’s book publisher. We weren’t trying to promote a certain product or increase sales like book publicity efforts might, but we were working to manage the reputation of Barefoot Books because reputation is extremely important to the success or failure of any company.

    This is seemingly a perfect example of last week’s lecture about the myriad ways aspects of the Marketing Mix can be defined and classified, with one certain definition not necessarily being more “correct” than another, depending who is doing the defining and classifying.

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