As a free radio advertising and radio publicity expert people often ask me that very question. Advertising and publicity…what’s the difference? Both are necessary to the survival of your business and both are easy to get. Both can also cost you a ton of money, or come to you free of charge. Let’s start with advertising.
Advertising: Whether it is on the radio, in the newspaper, on television, through direct mail campaigns, or on the Internet, the one key to traditional advertising is that it costs money. If you drive down the highway and see a billboard with a can of soda on it, the makers of that soda paid money to have their message plastered on that billboard. If you are listening to the radio and a car dealer starts screaming in your ear about “MSRP” and ‘Making room for the new models,” they paid the radio station to broadcast that message to the entire listening area. In the traditional sense of the word advertising equals “Paid for” however, there is such a thing as “free advertising” which costs nothing and is infinitely more effective than the traditional paid variety.
Publicity: Publicity is a little less specific. Publicity traditionally refers to any media coverage or attention that you receive that is contained within the “content of a publication or broadcast.” For example, if you own a shoe store and the TV news comes by to do a story about your annual ‘Shoe Drive For the Homeless” that is considered publicity. If you are an accountant and the Wall Street Journal writes a story about your attempt to set the record for most tax returns prepared in the month of April, that is also considered publicity. While the actual media coverage and content you receive is free, there are several costs associated with publicity including, travel expenses, event costs, and publicists fees. The expenses associated with so-called free publicity can be just as high as an advertising campaign.
If you have a product or service that you are trying to sell, you need one or the other (and often both) to not only succeed, but to survive. The lines can often be blurred. In my professional opinion, the best way to get free advertising and free publicity for yourself and your business is to get booked on radio and TV talk shows as an expert guest. When you get booked as a talk show expert you accomplish several important things.
1. You establish yourself as an expert in your field
2. You get free advertising
3. You sell products
Stop worrying about whether you need to hire an ad agency or a publicist, and simply get as mush media exposure for as little money as possible. Spend less than you make. That is the true key to success in business.