• It’s commonly assumed that PR means “press release” but this is misleading and frankly, not true. “PR does not = Press Release” although, press releases are directly related to PR. Often people are unsure of what PR, publicity and press releases really are. They are all related but each is different and has its own function which works symbiotically with the others.

    PR is actually an abbreviation for public relations. Press releases are a part of public relations and they generate publicity but they are not PR (they are a part of PR). At the same time, press releases may generate good public relations.

    Are you getting confused yet? Let’s simplify this by taking a quick look at the definitions of each provided by the Wictionary (a great, open source dictionary) and Websters Dictionary (my hard copy favorite).

    By definition, Public Relations is communication by a person or an organization with the purpose of creating a favorable public image; commonly referred to as PR.

    So, in essence, Public Relations are really the strategies surrounding your overall business presence and message. PR is the foundation that allows you to be ready for publicity when it comes your wayΒ it’s your core message, business values and image. While any form of communication can be considered public relations including newsletters, ezines, letters, blog posts and yes, press releases, they must all be a part of a much bigger PR strategy.).

    Publicity is what is generated by public relations. By definition, Publicity is an act or device designed to attract public interest, specifically information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support.

    When you create public relations (communications) it can generate publicity (public attention). Generally the goal of publicity is to gain UNPAID media exposure including ink (print exposure) and air (broadcast mentions), increase word of mouth and get more clients. Publicity is golden to your business because third party endorsements are more believable than paid ads.

    By definition a Press Release is an official written statement that is sent to the media so that it can be publicized (although press releases are not crafted just for the media anymore).

    Press releases are often referred to as news releases. They are essentially one in the same. However, the term “News release” can be used when the release is not intended solely for media distribution. For example: Online distribution of your news is a no-cost to low-cost way to establish credibility, help customers find you online and increase your online search engine rankings. So, the goal may not be mainstream media attention when you submit online and it would be appropriate to use the term “news release” instead. Either way is perfectly acceptable.

    Basically press releases are both a public relations and publicity tool depending on your overall strategy.

    Does your business have the three P’s (public relations, publicity and press releases) covered?

    1)Do you have an overall Public Relations Strategy that defines your brand, how you want people to perceive you and what you want to accomplish in the way of publicity?

    2)Do you create public relations materials to earn publicity based on a specific overall strategy?

    3)Do you share your news via press releases, strategically in accordance to your overall PR plan?

    If not, it may be time to start focusing on your P’s

    P.S. When writing this article I was looking for a great example to share from an article I had once seen in Readers Digest- thanks to Shannon Cherry ( a fellow PR pro) for posting this excerpt on her blog.

    “If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday'” that’s advertising/marketing. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.

    If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.”

    – Reader’s Digest, “Promoting Issues and Ideas” by M. Booth and Associates, Inc.

    What are your favorite PR strategies? Do you have a PR plan?

    Be sure to leave your comments here and I’ll respond personally. You might also be interested in becoming a member of the Write On Creative Community and receiving your FREE Copywriting Action Plan. Click here for details.



    Lisa Manyon is "The Business Marketing Architect" a content and copywriting strategist for mission-driven entrepreneurs. She's the creator of the NEW marketing model for success (as seen in Inc. Magazine) that's changing the way people market today. She specializes in powerfully communicating your marketing message to increase results via Manyon Marketing Web Makeovers, website copy packages and content strategies to effectively market your business. She offers a free Copywriting Action Plan and marketing resources on her award winning blog. Her consulting and coaching is known to help produce million dollar results www.writeoncreative.com/blog


    27 responses to “The Difference Between the "Three P’s" – Public Relations, Publicity and Press Releases”

    1. Linda Joy Myers says:

      Hi Lisa,
      This is a really great post that helps us non-marketing folks understand the fine points of publicity, public relations, PR, and all the other Ps that you mention!
      Thanks for clarifying!

    2. Lisa Manyon says:

      Hi Linda,

      Glad to help with the P’s & Q’s of marketing. It’s a passion of mine and I’m pleased you found value in the post. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have any?

      Write on!~


    3. Lisa! You really know your stuff! This is a great post. I always learn something new from you… THANKS! ?β„’? Katherine

    4. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for a great article! I love the circus example:)
      Any PR ideas for a video blog?
      Thanks, Melody

    5. Lisa Manyon says:


      You are welcome. I loved your post on delighting yourself. Such an important reminder to ourselves. As important as PR is to business. πŸ™‚

      Have you submitted any releases lately?

      Write on!~


    6. Lisa Manyon says:


      You are welcome. The circus example really illustrates the differences. PR can be confusing but once you get the formula down you can do all kinds of fun things like:
      Leverage Internet publicity with online press releases to increase credibility, drive traffic to your website or blog (yes, video blogs, too) and if your strategy calls for it — get mainstream media attention.

      I’ll need to know a bit more about your video blog BUT there are always ways to get PR. That’s the beauty of this.

      Write on!~


    7. Hi Lisa –

      wow, what a meaty article! I love the circus example at the end. Thanks for the definitions, I can see I have had some of these distinctions collapsed.

      Looking forward to more!


    8. Lisa you are excellent at breaking things down so they make sense.

      As an artist and business owner I am always seeking ways to connect my creative expression with people. As I was reading your article there was something about they way you described ‘PR as strategies around your overall business presence’ that made a light go off within me.

      Your article is inspiring me to design my strategies for connecting my creative expression with the people who are seeking my unique kind of inspiration.

      Thank you, you have inspired me!

    9. Lisa Manyon says:

      Hi Terry,
      Glad you enjoyed it. The circus example has always been one of my favorites.

      Another fun topic is the difference between advertising and marketing…but that’s a post for another day. Thanks for your comment.

      Write on!~


    10. Lisa Manyon says:


      Yes, you can leverage your gifts well with publicity. I like to look at it this way ” the more people you share your gifts with the more people you can impact in a positive way.” So, for me, the strategies I use are really so much more than a mechanism of publicity. There is real purpose behind the intent and I think that’s what makes the efforts so successful.

      I see many ways you can incorporate the strategies into your business to promote your art, workshops and more.

      Write on!~


    11. Sue Painter says:

      Great article, Lisa. I find that my own clients often get PR and publicity stuck together in their mind. Your article gives clarity and understanding to each part, and I’m going to send the link to more than a few of my clients. πŸ™‚ Thanks!
      Sue Painter

    12. This is a great article for someone who is more on the technical side like me. The circus example really did clarify each part of your article. I am now going to revisit my 3 P’s and put into motion. Thanks for sharing Lisa!

      Christine McIvor

    13. Lisa Manyon says:


      It’s more common than you might think and thanks for sharing. I truly find great joy in helping others understand and leverage PR. πŸ™‚

      Write on!~


    14. Lisa Manyon says:


      I’m glad it helped and I’d love to support you with any PR P’s & Q’s that you might need help with. Once you catch the bug it’s unstoppable.

      Write on!~


    15. Mitch Tublin says:

      Lisa, Wow – this is the way to walk someone down the path. Clear, concise and full of information. This is a post for me to share with
      others who need to meet you. Mitch

    16. Lynn Moore says:

      Lisa I always learn best when examples are given and your circus example was stellar! Loved to learn that PR actually means Puplic Relations.

      Thank you

    17. Lisa, This is such a great and easy to understand explanation of something that is NOT intuitive to a long time lawyer like myself! It helps me think in concrete terms about the three P’s that I need to focus on for my business and for my clients’ businesses also. I can’t wait to share this!
      Thank you!

    18. Lisa Manyon says:

      Mitch, Lynn and Jessica,

      I appreciate that feedback. I try to simplify things for my readers and clients. We so often assume that everyone understands our specialties the same way we do and that isn’t true.

      I’m glad the information was helpful and yes, please do share.

      Write on!~


    19. Trudy Scott says:

      I just love the example you give! Trudy

    20. Phil Dyer says:

      Lisa – This distinction is really helpful. Thanks so much for taking the time to put it together!


    21. Great post Lisa – as a PR practitioner of 15 years I really appreciate the definitions you outline – can I reuse your article for my not for profit network in Australia (recognising you as the source of course)?
      It’s called the Professional Communicator’s Network

    22. Lisa Manyon says:

      Hi Heidi,

      Absolutely — just be sure to include my website info. If you need an article signature block let me know & I’m happy to provide it.

      Write on!~


    23. Lisa Manyon says:


      Thanks for the input. When I have a moment I’ll check out your friends plug in. I’m always interested to learn about new technology. I’m currently not doing any ads on my blog and really haven’t considered it. So, this will give me something new to ponder.

      Write on!~



    24. Hello! I’ve been reading your web site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

    25. […] The Difference Between the “Three P’s – Public Relations, Publicity and Press ReleasesPublished January 4, 2013 | By Tonia Β This article is one that is clear and very well written – very much a must read. Though several years old, the article’s material still holds true.Β  Tonia Β  Β The Difference Between the “Three P’s” – Public Relations, Publicity and Press R… […]

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