Publicity and advertising both bring your name and/or business in front of the public or target audience, but there are big differences between them. When you’re paying for advertising, you have control of the message and when it’s aired or printed. The message is conveyed the way you submitted it or requested it. With publicity, the control is in the hands of the media. Your message may be changed and could even be seen as negative. Because you’re not paying for publicity, you may have little influence over how your message is interpreted after you submit it. You won’t have much control over when it’s run or aired, either. The best thing you can do is make sure your press releases and events are clearly defined and accurate and that your releases have contact information so anyone can confirm the facts.
Always leave the door open for further explanation and encourage the media to call, email, or visit you. Make sure that an informed person (preferably you) is available to answer questions at all times, or the media will just go without your explanation. Having one of your staff members answer questions incorrectly and give the media the wrong information is not a good thing. Designate only certain people as the ones who can talk to the media. Anyone else on your staff should not answer questions; they should just refer the media to the correct person(s).
You need both advertising and publicity for an effective marketing mix. So have plans for both and execute them regularly. But in most cases, positive publicity will reap even more rewards than advertising will.