Why PR and publicity should be considered separately

Plenty of PR pros balk at the notion that their jobs are only about securing media coverage and boosting brand visibility. Here’s why many practitioners shun the word “publicity.”

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An industry outsider might be forgiven for thinking that public relations and publicity are interchangeable functions.

However, PR practitioners have been arguing about just what a public relations professional does—or doesn’t do—for as long as many can remember. Some PR pros argue that the term “publicist” oversimplifies a job that includes reputation management, content creation, public advocacy and now, in 2019, digital marketing.

Others find the nitpicking over the differences between PR and publicity to be the work of self-important hucksters. 

A changing industry

For Brian Hart, founder and president of Flackable, a full-service PR agency in Philadelphia, the debate hinges on the changing nature of the PR industry.

“The publicity-centered public relations practitioner is a dying breed,” he says, “and that’s probably for the best.”

Hart argues that modern PR clients aren’t looking for just greater visibility in the marketplace. 

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