Seth Godin, one of my personal marketing Sherpas, opined in one of his recent blog posts on “The difference between PR and publicity”. As with most of his insights, the post elicited plenty of views and comments as he decided to characterize the distinction between publicity as merely end-game media coverage and PR as the comprehensive story crafting and scene setting about a particular company, product, or trend. The oft-badmouthed PR, in effect, is actually more of a science than it’s given credit for being.
Godin, as usual, is spot-on. Gaining publicity, especially in today’s cluttered media environment, can be experiment in futility. On the other hand, everybody (and every client) has a story to craft, develop and share regardless of who ultimately publicizes it. Some of these stories are hundreds of times more interesting than others and some might be a lot more controversial than others, but everybody’s got something to add to a conversation. As Godin writes, almost everyone has a PR problem – a problem conveying that story effectively enough to get attention (or the right attention).
The distinction that Godin draws creates an even greater justification for the merits of inbound marketing. With every effective inbound marketing campaign comes a hefty dose of creative, responsible and engaging storytelling and content creation – whether in the form of blogs, online videos, or social media profiles. Ultimately, marketers now have additional outlets for their stories besides the traditional media.
PR pro’s can focus on their storytelling by creating content that is engaging enough to stand on its own (without gatekeepers) and virally spread to the right audiences and potential prospects. Does a little outbound, traditional PR pitching help the cause? Absolutely, but any PR pro worth his or her salt knows that now, more than ever, companies can be well served by having a creative story (or customer, product, employee or event) that ultimately sells itself through new media channels, with little interruption or traditional media communication.