Publicity and Public Relations


Publicity is defined as the way of disseminating information to the public at large, through media. It can be in the form of news, stories, event information or write-ups, that creates awareness and credibility in the people regarding a brand, product or the company offering them.

Publicity aims at spreading the information or news, to the maximum number of people, in minimum time. It is a non-paid form of communication, which is not under the control of the company. It can be a positive review regarding a product, i.e. mobile, television, refrigerator, etc. given by a satisfied customer, or information published in the newspaper regarding the quality-rich services provided by a company, or it can be a simple word of mouth, etc.

In a nutshell, publicity has nothing to do with the company’s sales; it is all about creating awareness in general public through editorial or unbiased comments concerning a product.

Public Relations

Public Relations can be understood as the strategic management tool, which helps an organization to communicate with the public. Here, ‘public’ means the group of people that have an interest in or impact on a company’s ability to achieve business objectives. It is not only concerned with getting public attention, but it also aims at reaching the goals of the organization, by communicating the message to the target audience. It includes press releases, crisis management, social media engagement, etc.

Public Relations is all about maintaining the positive image of the company in the eyes of the public and developing strong relationships with them. It encompasses a range of programs organised by the company to promote its product and services. There are many companies, which have public relations department, which looks after the attitude of the appropriate public and also spread information to them, to increase the goodwill.

The functions performed by the public relations department include press relations, corporate communications, counselling, product publicity, etc.

Key Differences between Publicity and Public Relations

The difference between publicity and public relations can be drawn clearly on the following grounds:

  1. Publicity can be described as public visibility, wherein news or information is communicated to the general public so as to build credibility or awareness in them, with the help of a channel, i.e. mass media. On the other extreme, the term public relations, as the name suggest, is a strategic management tool, that aims to create a company’s positive image in the eyes of the public.
  2. While publicity is not under the control of the company, public relations is fully under the company’s control.
  3. Publicity can be positive or negative, in the sense that it can be positive or negative feedback regarding the product or service concerning a product given by the customer or controversial news about the company. Conversely, public relations is always positive, because it is strategised and managed by the public relations department of the company.
  4. Publicity is free of cost; as it is made by the third party. As against, in case of public relations, the company incurs money to organize events, sponsor programs, third-party endorsement, etc.
  5. Publicity involves, gaining the attention of the media, that communicates any information or news, regarding a product, service, person, organization, etc. so as to create awareness in people. In contrast, public relations seek to attract the target audience, for the purpose of boosting the company’s sales.

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By and large, publicity and public relations are different from one another, as in publicity is when someone or something is being noticed by the media, and people are informed about it. Unlike, public relations, is all about taking such steps, to maintain a good relationship with the interested public, which includes customers, government, shareholders, creditors, suppliers, government, etc.

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