When any significant news about a product is made known to the people through a published medium like radio, television, newspaper or otherwise, such kind of act is known is publicity. Publicity has very high credibility in the eyes of organizational buyers as the sponsor does not pay anything for publicity and it is not a part of any promotional program. It is the least costly promotional alternative available for the company that is very effective. Publicity helps to generate sales leads and improves relationship with customers. Technical articles published in trade journals about a company or products with the identity of authors (such articles are called as signed articles) improve the image of the company and the products. They form as a good source of information for customers.
Though publicity is free, there are some associated costs attached to it. The costs incurred are for reasons like obtaining space in the journal or magazine for writing an article, preparing the matter (through professional writers, proof reading, taking approvals by sending to Head Office, etc) for news release and arranging for it to be placed in the right magazine by contacting the respective editors. But compared to other promotional tools, the costs incurred are very less. Hence, publicity should be well integrated with other promotional tools in order to have effective marketing communication.
Public Relations Department is located at the top level of the company and it deals with every body i.e. customers, suppliers, shareholder, employees, legislators, government and press. And the important job of this department is to maintain relations with people and build a good image about the company in their eyes (e.g. if any new product is launched by any company, the MD or Chairman calls for a press conference and explains about the product and its features and release in the market)
Public Relations is much broader in scope than publicity. It comprises of a range of programs that are planned to promote a good image about a company or its individual products.