Advertising v Publicity.

What is the simple difference between advertising and publicity?


Well, first off, I have a problem when people compare these two terms.

In all fairness, publicity is a term that people have a hard time defining and understanding.


Publicity can be both paid and earned.


Therefore comparing advertising to publicity does not make much sense.

It just confuses people.


Anything that we pay for to promote our business, brand, products, or services is considered advertising.


If you are a great cook and SAY, Hey I am a great cook. That would be just plain old marketing.

If you PAY to promote that same information, that marketing just became advertising.

Advertising is therefore paid media.


Another way of saying this is calling it publicity gained through advertising one's owned media.



Owned media refers to a particular company's specific branding and content marketing efforts using their own personal communication channels (website, own blog, social media channels).


When third-parties say something about you, that is also considered publicity.


So, taking the same example we used above, it is when someone else will tell others,

Hey, Marvin is an excellent cook.

However, this type of publicity is very different from the one we just discussed because it is considered earned publicity or earned media.



No one is telling anyone that Marvin is an excellent cook because they were paid to do it. They do it because they want to and they believe that Marvin has great culinary talents.






Think about it this way. A company or personal brand has a story to tell.

That story is the foundation for their communication.

That story is usually marketed through their owned media channels (website, blogs, social media channels, podcasts).


If you take that story and pay for it to be consumed by the target audience in the form of TV ads, radio spots, digital banners, advertorials, Google Ads, native ads, social media links, that story is being marketed through advertising.

The company is PAYING to put the story out there in all of its short and long versions, infographics, and ways possible.


When you take that same story and market it through public relations, instead of paying for media channels to place your ads and story, you work on building relationships with, converting mindsets, and showing third-parties what is the true value of your business, product, and services.

If those third-parties choose to write or talk about you, it is because they see the value in that story.

They see the value in your company.



So to sum things up, all companies start off with their own content marketing on their own media channels. 

Owned media is what will be used as a source for both advertising (paid publicity) and earned media (earned publicity). 

It is in how that owned media is created, managed, and marketed that will make all the difference between the two.

Stay tuned for my next blog post where I will compare both advertising and public relations and discuss how they play a role in the overall marketing mix for a company.



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