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PR 101: The Difference Between the Three P’s of PR

There are a lot of common misconceptions about PR. Some people think it stands for ‘press release,’ while others think that ‘PR’ and ‘publicity’ are the same thing. Both are wrong. PR is an abbreviation of ‘public relations’, while a press release is a tool in the public relations toolbox that generates publicity.

Confused? Let’s simplify things by looking at the definition of each of the three P’s, starting with PR.

What is PR?

The P in PR stands for ‘public’. The public is anyone who has an opinion about your company i.e. your stakeholders, staff,  your customers and prospects. The R stands for ‘relations’. The point of PR is to build good relations between your business and the public by building a positive image of your business.

Public relations is essentially the strategies you use to do both of these things, whether it’s press conferences, PR stunts or glamorous product launches.

The aim of PR is to get third party endorsement from the media, influencers and customers.

Check out my PR 101 post about the different types of PR you can use to grow your business.

What is publicity?

Publicity is the result of your PR efforts. It’s the positive write-ups you get from The Guardian and Metro newspapers, for example, following your press conference, or the rave review you get from an influencer who tested your product at your product launch.

Publicity is generated for free, by people outside of your company, unlike advertising, which you pay for. With publicity, you don’t have any control over what’s said about you, or where it’s placed. But it’s worth its weight in gold, as third-party endorsements hold much more credibility than paid ads.

Here are some handy hints on getting publicity for your business.

What is a press release?

A press release is a written communication directed at the media; the purpose being to pique the interest of a journalist and make them want to write about you. Your press release should be attention-grabbing, and contain all the essential information: the who, what, where, when, how and most importantly why, so the journalist can easily produce their own story.

Press releases are key public relations tools that can lead to publicity; so, it’s important to get them right.

I covered the basics of writing a good press release in a previous blog post.

Pulling it all together

A press release is written and sent to the media. If it gets picked up, the resulting story is considered publicity: a piece of content that’s created by an independent source about your business. When your audience sees or reads the coverage, that’s considered public relations. You’re using the article to shape the image of your company.

Does your business have the three P’s covered?

We’ve established that the three P’s have different functions, and each plays an equally important role in shaping your company image and attracting media attention. Do you have the three P’s covered? If you’re unsure, or are still baffled by the terminology, it’s time to start focusing on them. Luckily, help is at hand. With over 25 years experience in the industry, I’m well placed to help you get to grips with all three, and help you formulate a PR strategy that’s going to propel your brand forward in 2018.

Get in touch to find out more.



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