Marketing versus Publicity

I had an interesting discussion with a client last month about what it is that I actually do. Funny, I do it all the time, so I don’t really think about it, but it occured to me that maybe not everyone is clear about what exactly Marketing and Publicity mean.

So I made a diagram. Okay, you know I’m a nerd. This should not come as a surprise.

For me, Marketing is your overall strategy for sales, or for getting bums in seats. It includes everything that you do to build your brand: including your website, purchasing ads, or getting publicity.

Marketing can break down into a few categories:

Adverting: These are paid ads, and they can be anything from buying a TV spot to purchasing a billboard or the side of a bus to an ad in the local paper to PPC ads on Google or Facebook. The bottom line is, you pay for it, and it says exactly what you want it to say. The hope will all ads is that they get under as many eyeballs as possible, and hopefully eyeballs that are already in your target demographic.

The downside of advertising is that it’s expensive, and the return is small. However, for many, it’s still worth it, even at a return rate of less than 10%.

Propaganda: There’s probably a better term for this, but anything that is something that has your name and info on it is a piece of propaganda. I’m talking about your website, your season brochures, your postcards, your posters. The investment on these is not as great as it is to buy advertising, and your return may be slightly higher. You will likely send these things out to an audience that has already been in touch with you, and has likely given their permission for you to contact them with more information. If buying ads in like the equivalent of a cold call, then propaganda is like the equivalent of a lukewarm call.

There is still some “spray and pray” happening here, especially with posters, or postcards or brochures left in public places in hopes someone will pick them up.

Editorial is publicity. What “editorial” means is that an editor or someone in charge of assigning a story sees your press pitch, and thinks it would be a good fit for that media outlet. They then assign a journalist or writer to do a story on you (or in my case, my client). This method of getting the word out is, essentially, free (except for whatever you are paying your publicist), and it carries more weight than ads do. This is because a story in a newspaper is considered to be unbiased, written by an actual journalist. Plus, often a story in the paper, for example, will take up a large portion of a page of that newspaper, the equivalent space for an ad would be out of our price range.

The only drawback of editorial coverage is that you don’t have complete control over what’s said about you. In the case of a preview article, this isn’t usually a huge problem, but with reviews… it sometimes can be.

There you go! Hope that clears up any misconceptions you might have had. And thanks for letting me indulge my innter nerd by making a diagram!

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 3

  1. I remember asking a seasoned marketing PR person this very question years ago. You can tell it was simpler back then, as she responding quickly and authoritatively, “Marketing costs money. Publicity doesn’t.”
    Oh the times, they are a’changin’…

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