Marketing  vs Publicity

I’m a bit of a jack of all trades and for a long time both marketing and publicity have been fairly even components of my working life. From time-to-time people have asked me which I prefer. While these two communication functions often get lumped together, I think they’re wildly different beasts.

The easiest way to answer this question is to describe how they make me feel.

Marketing is a slow and steady straight line. With a marketing campaign things are largely in your control. If you have an idea, create a plan and execute it thoroughly, for the most part, you should be able to achieve what you’ve set out to do.

Of course, this requires careful planning, mindfulness of deadlines and, most importantly, a really clear brief for everyone involved to work from.

Publicity is a wildly fluctuating line – a bit like the ECG machine of a patient having some serious cardiac complications. The highs are high and the lows are low. Yes, you still control a number of factors, but there are a lot more variables involved.

With a publicity campaign there is often something that falls over or out through no fault of your own – a sick journalist, a lack of space or a more newsworthy story can all wreak havoc with an interview that had been planned for months.

A good publicist has to be able to roll with the waves, not freak out if everything crashes down at the last minute due to a major breaking news story, and know how to salvage a schedule and still make it work. That can be a tad stressful!

Which aspect do I enjoy the most? That all depends what sort of day I’m having. If I’ve just confirmed five major interviews and watched an author nail it on the six o’clock news then chances are I’m going to tell you all about my love for publicity.

If I’ve just lost a crucial slot in an upcoming schedule and had some bad news from an event organiser, but had a post on social media go viral, then marketing will definitely be my happy place.

The thing I love about both functions though, is it’s all about telling a story. Whether you’re using owned, paid or acquired channels to do that, the goal is the same – find a creative way to get word out about whatever you’ve been tasked to promote.

That’s what I thrive on and I count myself very lucky I’ve found a job that enables me to do that.

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