publicity, publishing & becoming a media mogul because the future of your business is on the internet
Newsletter Archives : : issue 10 • table of contents : : Publicity vs advertising
This issue is sponsored by lighthouses.

Publicity vs advertising

Do you know the difference between advertising and publicity? Business people often mistakenly believe that advertising and publicity are interchangeable terms, yet successful marketing hinges upon a clear understanding of the roles and expected pay back of each, especially in this internet age.

Advertising - Means you pay for space or time, such as an ad in a newspaper or magazine, a commercial for radio or television, or a banner ad on a web site other than your own. The final look or sound, which you approve, and the distribution of your message is included in the price, which is determined by the number of people potentially expected to see it. Legitimate organizations set ad prices by using historic data to arrive at claims about expected future circulation/listeners/viewers/visitors. Advertising has a direct cause and effect; you pay to control the message, its size, and how often it's distributed. Response is expected to be immediate.

Publicity - Means you negotiate to trade useful information for space. For example, you submit a news release or story to a magazine read by large numbers of your target market or you offer the local newspaper information tying your business to an upcoming community event. No money changes hands. You don’t control how the information will be used, the amount of space allocated to it, when it will appear, or if it will appear. Publicity has an indirect cause and effect; you offer information written as news and useful to your target audience. Timing and other factors such as "editorial need" determine if your news is accepted and distributed. The exception is your own web site, your opportunity for pure publicity but with the control of advertising. The response to publicity is cumulative and powerful over time.

You pay a modest charge for a huge amount of empty "living" web site space in which you place useful information of interest to your target market. You control the message and how it appears. Web sites aren't distributed in the conventional sense, so to attract visitors you can run ads in newspapers and magazines, shoot for publicity by offering news stories to traditional media outlets, and develop e-mail address lists of your current customers and target buyers and send messages promising information of interest if they visit.

A web site economically allows a worldwide audience around-the-clock access to your business, and provides the freedom to operate and promote your business in ways not possible with any other medium. As with paid advertising, your web site delivers your sales message without additional cost or conventional limits on space or time. As with publicity, you can post positive stories about your business activities without having to meet someone else’s editorial need or criteria.

Advertising and publicity can work well together to produce the desired response, but require different thought processes to accomplish. Advertising is straight forward, you pay to control the product. Publicity, on the other hand, is much more of an art, but thinking of it as free advertising can sabotage your efforts.