Promotion and publicity are often used interchangeably; however, they have very different meanings and uses in the marketing and public relations world.
When you promote a company, organization or individual, you are hoping to gain public attention. The act of promoting is done to make a company, organization or individual stand out from other competitors. It is a campaign or strategy to gain advertising placement and further stimulate buzz around the brand. Promoting can be free, fairly inexpensive or very costly depending on the route you plan to take.
Ways to Promote – The following are a few tools publicists use to promote:
· Build a strong website
· Be present on social media and “promote” your Facebook page or create ads on Twitter
· Share your gained and earned media with your publics
· Reach out to your publics via letters, pamphlets, etc.
· Contests or sweepstakes
Once promoting has been done to strengthen the presence of a brand, publicity has likely been generated.
Publicity is a method of promoting. Publicists gain publicity for their clients by pitching the media about a story idea, package or in-studio segment, in hopes of gaining media coverage for their brand. Because publicity is generated by an outside source but monitored and supported by a PR coordinator, a PR coordinator is not able to directly control what becomes public. Publicity is specifically what the media chooses it to be. It is very important for a publicist (or PR coordinator) to pitch media-worthy content in a positive and influential way. Depending how the media views the actions of the company, or event hosted by the company, publicity can be either negative or positive.
In time of an internal crisis such as the current Volkswagon crisis, a publicist cannot control the immediate publicity surrounding the company or brand. From there, it would be a publicist’s job to respond to the crisis publicly. Once the crisis response and actions reach the media and becomes public, you once again have publicity. As long as it is managed in an efficient way, this publicity can turn the negative publicity into positive and can be the initial steps in repairing a damaged image or relationship with your publics.
Due to publicity’s permanence, it can damage the career or reputation of a company or organization indefinitely. Just the same, publicity can positively influence the success of a professional and is determinant of the public’s view of them.
Publicity and promotion can be seen as similar, however as explained, they are used in very different ways, by different departments and at different stages of campaigns.
P.S. Positive publicity will not generate itself. You must create something newsworthy within your brand or organization and then make sure that information becomes public.