What is Publicity?

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  • 0:04 Definition of Publicity
  • 0:43 Publicity Vs Advertising
  • 2:14 Publicity Vs Marketing
  • 3:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: LeRon Haire
The lesson reviews the definition of publicity and just how it differs from other similar forms of communication, such as advertising and marketing. Examples of each are also provided.

Definition of Publicity

Can you recall hearing positive or negative news about an organization on the nightly news? Or did you know that McDonald's recently announced that they would have breakfast items available all day? These are prime examples of publicity. Publicity can be defined as a form of public relations that provides news or information in the media. Publicity is also how a business or organization is perceived in the media.

Due to their closeness in nature, publicity is often misconstrued with two other forms of mass communication: advertising and marketing. How can anyone tell the difference between all of these? Let's take a look at how publicity distinguishes itself from advertising and marketing.

Publicity vs. Advertising

Much of the reason behind the confusion with trying to distinguish publicity from marketing is often because they each bring similar advantages to an organization. To begin, advertising can be defined as the set of events or activities designed to bring attention to a product or service. Publicity and advertising each help to generate awareness about an organization's products or services. They each have a similar goal in mind, which is to increase the revenue and sales to ensure success for an organization.

However, this is where many of those similarities end. Advertising is an activity that is obtained by paying for it, such as a business paying for a commercial spot that airs in a movie theater before the movie begins. However, publicity is something that does not have to be paid for. For example, publicity can be obtained through positive feedback from an article written by a satisfied customer or when a local news outlet decides to interview someone at an organization for a report. Publicity is considered relatively free material that occurs in the media. Here are a few other examples of advertising and publicity:

Advertising Publicity
Newspaper ads, commercials, magazine/journal ads Word of mouth, hosting informative sessions, seminars

A newspaper is an example of a place where advertising takes place. It costs money to buy out the space for a particular period of time in that newspaper or on that blog page. Other examples include commercials, pre-roll ads in front of YouTube videos, and ads in magazines.

Word of mouth, however, is free. It really just depends on getting the word out there. Examples of word of mouth based events can include hosting informative sessions, holding seminars or even simply posting a video or a podcast online.

Publicity vs. Marketing

As with advertising, since marketing and publicity each bring similar benefits to an organization, many people seem to confuse the two. Marketing consists of any activities that are related with the buying or selling of products or services. Marketing and publicity each also help an organization reach the ultimate goal to raise revenue (and hopefully lower costs), and this is done through promoting awareness about an organization's products and services.

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