The difference between online publicity and online PR…

Once upon a time marketers had two main ways of getting their product or services noticed by consumers: advertising and publicity.

The principle of advertising is based on interruption. In order to get people’s attention you need a large degree of creativity or even humour. This helps people absorb your message and makes it stick.

The principle of publicity is based on getting placement in mass media. To compete in the battle for media inches, your story needs to have good news value.

Advertising and publicity have always complemented each other very well. What they have in common is that they both need to have a certain degree of magic. In order for your story to cut through, you need to pull a new rabbit out of the hat.

This is where advertising and publicity are different from PR. PR is about relationships. Online PR is about relationships online. And relationships online are about conversation and participation.

I think what online PR – or PR 2.0 as some say – does, is move (potential) customers and stakeholders from one place to another. It turns strangers into participants, participants into ‘friends’ and ‘friends’ into customers.

The catalyst of this process is great content. The kind of content people want to consume, spread, share and subscribe to.

Rather than focussing your creativity on pulling ever more rabbits out of your hat, focus it on creating fresh and relevant content that builds real relationships. That’s the real difference between online publicity and online PR.

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