What’s the Difference Between Marketing and Publicity?

– by Jana Burson


Curious about the difference between marketing and publicity? One of the earliest explanations I remember hearing, maybe even as far back as college, was this: Marketing is bought and paid for; publicity is sought and prayed for.

To dissect that a little further, marketing is placement that is paid for on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, etc. This placement can be an ad, advertorial, promotion, a blog tour or more. Another easy way to think about marketing is that it is guaranteed placement.

Publicity, on the other hand, is not purchased placement. It’s obtained when a publicist pitches your book to TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, websites, podcasts, etc. for coverage or review. Coverage depends on several things, including a publicist’s relationships, the quality of the content being pitched, and timing.

Don’t think though that publicity is FREE. The actual space or coverage might not have a price attached to it, but it often comes to fruition following tireless hours of pitching, follow-up and relationship building along the way. A good publicist is always worth their fee.

In the publishing industry, the publicity department often sits under the overall umbrella of marketing. Thus, when the marketing representative at your respective publisher refers to the marketing budget, they are including publicity.

A well-rounded launch campaign for a book will have components of both marketing and publicity. If both are done well, they should complement each other and in turn bolster the sales of a book.

For more on publicity, see my interview with a publicist here.