Helpful Terms and Lingo

It’s easy for anyone to mix up terms like advertising, marketing, promotion, public relations, publicity, and sales. These terms are often used interchangeably but they actually refer to different activities. Some clarity is provided here to make sure we all stay on the same page and speak the same lingo as we move through your project.

The following examples may help make six commonly used terms a little more clear –
“If the circus is coming to town and you pay to place a notice in the paper or on a website that says ‘The Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday’, that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s marketing & promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and it gets reported, that’s publicity. If you get the mayor to talk about it, that’s public relations.” When citizens go to the circus and you show them how much fun they’ll have playing carnival games, that’s sales.

» Advertising
Advertising is bringing a product (or service) to the attention of potential and current customers. Advertising is typically done by way of websites, signage, brochures, commercials, direct mailings, and email. Although website banner ads are often referred to as part of an ’emarketing’ effort, they also fall under advertising.

Promotion keeps the product in the minds of the customer and helps stimulate demand for the product. Promotion involves ongoing advertising and publicity. The ongoing activities of advertising, sales and public relations are often considered aspects of promotions. Social Networking is a form of promotion as well.

» Marketing
Marketing is a big umbrella with activities under it involved in making sure that you’re continuing to meet the needs of your customers and getting value in return. These activities may include market research, analyzing competition, positioning your product or service (finding your market niche), pricing your products and services, and promoting them through continued advertising, promotions, public relations and sales.

» Publicity
Publicity is getting mentioned in the media such as websites, newspapers, magazines, tv, radio. Clients usually have little control over the message in the media, at least not as much as they do with paid advertising. Reporters and writers decide what will be said but designers & agencies can sometimes help influence the direction and timing of a story depending on the circumstances.

» Public relations
Public relations includes ongoing activities to ensure the company has a strong public image. Public relations activities include helping the public to understand the company and its products. Often, public relations are conducted through the media, including online, newspapers, television, magazines, etc. Public relations is often considered as one of the primary aspects of promotion.

» Sales
Sales involves cultivating prospective buyers (or leads), conveying features, advantages and benefits of a product or service and closing the sale or coming to agreement. And although we can’t do the selling for you, we can create the knock-out sales materials that will get you noticed – and getting their attention is half the battle. These materials include developing a strong brand & identity, business collateral, signage, sales brochures and tear sheets, website presence and social media as well as the companion emarketing effort.

(sources: M. Booth and Associates, Inc. & Carter McNamara)