Monthly Archives: January 2008

Defining the Terms: The Differences Between PR, Marketing and Advertising

If you’re a small- to medium-sized business, I bet you’ve asked yourself, “What is the difference between PR, Marketing and Advertising, anyway?” The idea of integrated communications is simple: use a variety of communications methodologies which complement each other in order to meet business objectives. But if you’re not quite sure which direction to follow, here’s an elementary rundown of the differences between these main three areas of communications.

In businesses big and small, generally the marketing dept. is the dept. that allocates resources, a.k.a budget, to communications programs that will help sell products and services. PR and advertising programs almost always fall under the marketing umbrella. Other areas of marketing include promotions (contests and giveaways), events, trade shows, webinars, social media, sponsorships and more. When you think “marketing” think of any activity or process designed to help sell!

According to, Marketing is defined as: The activities of a company associated with buying and selling a product or service. It includes advertising, selling and delivering products to people. People who work in marketing departments of companies try to get the attention of target audiences by using slogans, packaging design, celebrity endorsements and general media exposure. The four ‘Ps’ of marketing are product, place, price and promotion.

Investopedia Commentary

Many people believe that marketing is just about advertising or sales. However, marketing is everything a company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them. Even the small tasks like writing thank-you letters, playing golf with a prospective client, returning calls promptly and meeting with a past client for coffee can be thought of as marketing. The ultimate goal of marketing is to match a company’s products and services to the people who need and want them, thereby ensure profitability

Advertising is bought media. Simply, ad agencies or depts. create ads and campaigns to sell products, ideas, services, candidates, etc. Media planners figure out (through extensive demographic research) where and when these ads should run– in print, on the radio or telvision, in the form of internet banner ads, billboards, flyers and more. Media buyers then purchase ad space in the right outlets in order to achieve the greatest success for a client. says that Advertising is:

1. the act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need, etc., esp. by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, etc.: to get more customers by advertising.
2. paid announcements; advertisements.
3. the profession of planning, designing, and writing advertisements.
There are many areas of public relations including media relations and publicity, crisis management, public affairs and more. On the whole, public relations deals with earned media as opposed to media exposure that is bought through advertising. PR is about building positive relationships with the public primarily through exposure and coverage in the media, i.e. interviews in newspapers, on the radio on or a TV newscast. PR people work closely with marketing people in order to support publicity efforts for promotional events and any other activities that encourage participation from the public. For Fortune 500 companies, Corporate PR is an intregral part of the communications machine. One false statement, however, can send a company into automatic spin. says Public Relations is:
  1. (used with a sing. verb) The art or science of establishing and promoting a favorable relationship with the public.
  2. (used with a pl. verb) The methods and activities employed to establish and promote a favorable relationship with the public.
  3. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The degree of success obtained in achieving a favorable relationship with the public.


Filed under crisis communications, integrated communications, marcom, marketing communications, media, media relations, PR for Non-Profits, PR for Small Biz, PR Resources, Press Releases, Public Relations, publicity

Top Ten PR Disasters of 2007


The folks at just came out with their top ten “disasters” of last year. Among them, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s fake internet postings; FEMA using staff to pose as fake reporters; Cartoon Networks blinking electronic devices placed under bridges in Boston to promote “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and more. You know, you just have to have a sense of humor about this stuff.

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What’s Up with Well-Meaning White People?

silent-racism.jpgWhile a lot of my professional energy is spent on client work and PR, I’ve been very excited about some recent writing assignments that have come my way. For instance, I just filed a story for Austin Woman Magazine for their February issue featuring author and professor Barbara Trepagnier who wrote a fascinating book called Silent Racism: How Well-Meaning White People Perpetuate the Racial Divide. Barbara, a late bloomer in the academic world, is a lovely Southern white lady who embraced this area of sociology as a natural extension of her studies in feminism. She also admits she is racist. Let me explain… here are some of the highlights she describes:

  • Race awareness in well-meaning white people—including racial progressives—is both sorely lacking and a crucial piece of the racism puzzle.
  • Well-meaning white people who are passive around others’ racism encourage it, whether or not they intend to.
  • Slavery and segregation have been transformed into a less obvious structure: institutional racism.
  • Race awareness entails understanding three facets of racism: the history of racism in the U.S., how institutional racism operates, and insight into one’s own silent racism and passivity.
  • Both silent racism and passivity in well-meaning white people are instrumental in producing institutional racism.
  • Throughout U.S. history a small group of white Americans has stood against the racist institutions of their day.

Again, look for the interview in the Feb. issue of Austin Woman Magazine.

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Stuff I Discovered in 2007…

OK– I don’t want to be accused of pimping my client’s products on this blog, so I make it a point to let people know about things I TRULY love after I’m done working for them or especially if I’ve never even met them. In other words, I ain’t makin’ a dime if I say that:

1) I’ve discovered the best kitchen mat in the world. Seriously. This is a million dollar idea. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and someone finally figured out a way to make a beautiful, shock absorbent, bacteria resistant kitchen mat. The guys at Let’s Gel are getting a lot of attention. They were featured in the New York Times gift guide this year; they’re being used in the test kitchens at Bon Appetit, Paula Deen’s got one; Ina Garten’s got one; and it’s already been on HGTV’s “I Want That!” Get one, or get one for the chef in your life. They’re also at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

2) This is the craziest thing I’ve heard of lately. After seeing “Blood Diamond” I put a halt to buying (or asking my husband to buy) diamonds of any kind. I just don’t know where they’ve actually come from, and I really don’t want blood on my hands, or wrists or earlobes. So it was a complete shock that I also had to worry about another love of mine… chocolate. Did you know that most of the chocolate we consume has links to child slavery in parts of Africa? That’s right. So what’s a conscientious chocolate lover to do? Well, visit and learn where you can get slave-free, fair trade, and organic chocolate products. You really do have a number of choices, so make them wisely.

3) Check out Firefly Children’s Boutique in NYC or online. They have great, unique clothes, gifts and toys for the hip kid at unbelievably reasonable prices. I particularly love their selection of wooden toys, puppets and fashion for kids.

4) In 2007 I celebrated my 20 year high school reunion. It was great to see old friends and just catch up on what everyone was doing. I was super-impressed with how diverse and brilliant all of our careers seemed. Again, I would not just tell you I liked something just because I’m fond of the person. I am genuinely impressed with this stuff.


Geo Toys: Founded by my close friend Bob Galinsky, he set out to do what no one had done before… create an exceptional geographically accurate puzzle for continents. Each of his Geo Puzzles has puzzle pieces in the shape of countries. Bob has the US, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America as well as other fun geography-based toys. I was recently at Whole Earth in Austin, Texas and was happy to see his toys front and center! Way to promote world peace… piece by piece!


Thank You Bear is a remarkable and simple children’s story written and illustrated by one of the coolest kids in my senior class… Greg Foley. Greg and I had some classes together in high school, and he contributed artwork to our newspaper (of which I was editor). After graduation, he went to the famed Rhode Island School of Design and then pursued a fantastic design career in NYC. And with endorsements from David Bowie, Karl Legerfeld, David Byrne and more, Greg wins the uber hip award from me. Now I just need to get him to sign a copy of Thank You Bear for my son!


Julia LaShae was in my cute little circle of girlfriends in high school. She was super smart, a total doll and one of the nicest people I remember. It was people like Julia that made high school tolerable and even fun. So when I heard that she was a jazz singer in New Orleans, I was so thrilled and not at all surprised. I’ll never forget that sultry fire engine red satin dress with elbow length gloves she wore to prom. Girlfriend knows how to sing those classic tunes from the 20s, 30s and 40s. Buy her CD.

Well, that’s it for now… I’m always going to share information on products, pursuits and people I love. Enjoy!

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Five Ways to Resolve to Make PR a Top Priority for Your Biz


Happy New Year, everyone! We all know that the business of publicizing and promoting your business is always on your mind. In November and December, however, PR sometimes has a tendency to run aground in the swirl of holiday activities, last minute accounting, and the rush of media surrounding retail trends. So here are five down and dirty ways to kickstart your resolution to pay much needed attention to the communications program that will take your business to the next level:

 1) READ: Whether your business is targeted to general consumers, or a more select audience, make a list of the top ten print publications that your customers read. Think about everything from websites to national magazines and subscribe to them. When you take your morning coffee or tea, spend just ten to fifteen minutes browsing these publications so you can get an idea about what your customers are reading about and, as a result, buying.  Don’t forget to figure out which print journalists in your hometown are the best match to report about your product and resolve to really spend some time reading their articles throughout the year so when you’re ready to pitch, you know who you’ll be dealing with.

 2) WATCH: Do the same thing with television. Think about everything from one-hour documentaries on TLC, A&E or The Discovery Channel to your local weekday morning new shows. Cultivate the mindset that you’re not just interested in telling people about your service or product but, rather, you’re giving them information that you can use.

3) ACT: In other words, fake it ’til you make it. Believe that you can be a valuable spokesperson or resource on anything and everything related to your industry. This not only makes you a more attractive interviewee for journalists, it can force you to really pay attention to the core messages of your business when you may be on camera at the drop of a hat. Remember to dress the part, take care of yourself, and get enough rest. Like in every area of life, being happy and healthy are major attractors to getting what you want, when you want it.

4) WRITE: Even if you don’t know how to get started in starting or revamping your communications program, it all starts with the basic raw materials: copy. Sure, you may not be a great writer. But you need to have at least a few rough drafts that you can hand off to a pro once your ready to get going. Take a swing at writing a one-page professional biography on yourself, then ask your executive team to do the same. If your stuck, start off with a list of ten questions that need to be answered about you and the company including:

  • What are some of your professional highlights from the last ten years?
  • Why did you decide to get into this industry?
  • What was the genesis for starting the company?
  • How has business changed over the last few years?
  • What makes you qualified to be in this industry?
  • How are your products/services unique?
  • What are some things that partners say about you?
  • What are some things that customers say about you?
  • How have your products/services evolved over the years?
  • Where are you from, and where did you go to school?
  • How many employees do you have and what are your plans for growth?
  • What sorts of media coverage have you received in the past?

Once you answer some of these questions, categories, stories and fact sheets begin to emerge. Then simply hand off what you’ve generated to a writer, and you’ve got the beginnings of a basic press kit.

5) COMMIT: It goes without saying that you can’t do it all alone. The most successful people are that way because of the people they surround themselves with. Do not trust communication with the media, developing important talking points, or sending out a press release to your office manager. If you can not afford a full-time or part-time in-house communications pro, negotiate a contract with a respected PR consultant who can at least help you navigate these sometimes tricky waters. Make a commitment to yourself and to the health of your business to take that first necessary step to work with a communications professional, even on an hourly consulting basis. It’s an investment you can not afford to scratch off your budget. 


OK– I admit that I can be an overachiever. That’s why I need to add a SIXTH way to get your PR on in 2008.

LEARN: I know we’re all pressed for time, but there are a LOT of great PR/Communications/Marketing blogs out there that are literally giving away trade secrets for FREE. I absolutely love that so many smart and talented people are sharing years of experience through the wonderful world of social media. Expand your business know-how and check out The Bad Pitch Blog for a funny inside scoop on good PR practices gone bad. Also, try visiting The Buzz Bin for intriguing posts on marketing, social media, PR and all things related to communicating who you are.  And I’ve recently discovered The Viral Garden, a really information-centric blog for those interested in learning more about how to incorporate and utilize social media for small businesses, among many other things. And if you’re itching for some interesting insight into the mad world of the ad world, stop by HeeHaw Marketing. You’ll dig it.


Filed under journalism, marcom, marketing communications, media, media relations, PR for Non-Profits, PR for Small Biz, PR Resources, Press Releases, Public Relations, publicity, social media