Difference Between Public Relations and Publicity

Public Relations vs Publicity


Public Relations and Publicity are two different terms, between which there are differences. Firms that specialize in public relations do publicity, but they also do much more than publicity. Thus, it is clear with this sentence that ‘public relations’ (PR) is a bigger term comprising publicity. Publicity is easier than public relations, and almost anyone can do it. But PR requires skills that go beyond just handing out press releases to reporters of various newspapers. In this article, we will try to highlight differences between public relations and publicity to let people appreciate these differences and make strategies accordingly.

What are Public Relations?

Every company has a Public Relations department that is enough to signify the importance companies attach to this concept. In reality, ‘public relations’ is a sum of all activities that are undertaken to mold public opinion in the desired direction. It works on the principle of making perception a reality in the minds of the customers. The amazing success of iPhones and iPads has got a lot to do with their excellent features but there is much more to their success and the way they are perceived as status symbols around the world by millions of users. It is the excellent Public Relations exercises conducted by Steve Jobs and his team that has made people love these gadgets. And what about Steve Jobs? He is a perfect example of the Public Relations indulged in at the time of the release of Mac laptops and notebooks. The amazing success of Mac workbooks and the icon that Steve Jobs today is because of the massive Public Relations exercise apart from aggressive publicity that was undertaken to create an aura around him and his products.

It is the responsibility of a Public Relations department to see that the reputation of the organization remains intact, and the company has an image that is always positive in the minds of the people. Public Relations ensures that this image and credibility of the company is enhanced, and the products and services of the company generate goodwill about the company. An effective Public Relations is sure to influence the behavior of the public in a positive manner. This highlights the nature of Public Relations. Now let us move on to an understanding of Publicity.

Difference Between Public Relations and Publicity


What is Publicity?

Publicity can take many forms such as news coverage, feature articles, talk shows on TV programs, blogs, and letters to editors and so on. The main function of publicity is to draw attention of the media towards the products and services of the company. Publicity is different from advertising in the sense that it is not paid whereas company has to pay to rope in a celebrity to endorse the product of the company or when it advertises in magazines, TV, or other websites on the net. This highlights that Publicity is different from Public Relations. Unlike in the case of Public Relations where the activities are directed towards molding a specific opinion in a desired direction, publicity does not engage in such a process. It is merely a case of drawing the attention of the pubic towards something. Now let us summarize the difference in the following manner.

Public Relations vs Publicity

What is the Difference Between Public Relations and Publicity?

  • The goal of PR and publicity is similar and that is to attract the attention of media towards the products of the company but publicity is just a part of the whole PR exercise that is undertaken to generate goodwill and credibility for the company in the eyes of the public (potential customers).
  • The principle of perception is reality is at work when effective PR exercise is undertaken, and a good PR strategy can create an aura around a product or person that leads to amazing success.


Image Courtesy:

1. Public Relations Society of America workshop at FEMA headquarters by Bill Koplitz (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2. HKFSD Ambulance Service Publicity Vehicle By Negi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons