What is the Difference Between Public Relations and Publicity?

What is the Difference Between Public Relations and Publicity?

9 June, 2015

Public Relations and Publicity are not the same thing. 

This one can be really confusing. We’ve all heard the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

If you work in public relations, you know there is definitely such thing as bad publicity. Public relations professionals, whether they work for an individual or a company, are reputation managers, and bad publicity can definitely do damage to a reputation.

Publicity is increasing awareness primarily through getting mentions in press. That can be accomplished in a variety of ways, through simple contact with reporters, or some sort of guerrilla marketing stunt. Sometimes the goal of gaining publicity can be contrary to maintaining a positive reputation.

Publicity can be a component of public relations, as well as marketing. The phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is often credited to P.T. Barnum. Today the issue of conditions of circus animals would be just one example of bad publicity in that industry.

While sometimes “bad” publicity can have good results, it more often has not so good results. This is especially true in the age of social media.

In short, publicity can be used to further the goals of public relations (or marketing), but it is not the same thing as public relations.