Press, publicity, and public relations. Those are the key terms tossed around in the PR world and surrounding a campaign, but they're not interchangeable, nor are they a mere matter of semantics. They're specific terms with important meanings. As stated in a previous post, public relations is the tree, with publicity and press being branches of said tree. The PR world is full of buzz words, vocab, parlance, and lingo, so this post will explain some of those terms to clarify them for those who don't know.
1. Public relations
This is not your publicist dealing with your public, adoring or otherwise. It's not a publicist handling or catering to your fans. It's the shepherding of your overall perception in the public and to the fans, and it's your overall campaign, related to imaging, placement, and positioning. It also includes your publicity commitments (interviews, features, appearances) and your press kit.
Your publicity is your interviews, features, premieres, appearances, reviews, and mentions in the media, and all of the things that add up to your press kit.
3. Press kit
This is your collection of press clips, both good and bad. It's a record and a scrapbook of your publicity, as it collects everything the media has said about you or how it has covered you. It can be a useful tool for your publicist and your marketing staff, as it can be a building block for other media pitches and targets and can indicate other worlds in which to seed you beyond music. Usually, the "good" clips are shared with the media requesting information about an artist, with the "bad" clips kept for archival purposes.
No, I am not talking about the former print publication and its still-existing website. "Spin" is tricky, and it's a loaded term. It can actually mean multiple things to many different people. In my opinion, "spin" is an art, not a science, and it's how a publicist can take any angle pertaining to your music, your album, your tour, or your life, and turn it into a piece of press, usually of the positive sort.
For example, you're a singer in a band and you love dogs. You and your sister start a charity for dogs. Your publicist can use this bit of information and get you some coverage in outlets that have nothing to do with music and everything to do with making a difference in the world.
This can be done to spotlight your good works and further those efforts, or it can be used to take the spotlight off something not-so-savory you may have done, like getting arrested for a DUI. Spin is often used to downplay something negative.
Okay, okay. This is self-indulgent and for all my fellow publicistas out there (Jamie, Catie, Mary, Kerri, Maria, Natalie, Arielle, Katy, Zeena, Jenna, Renee, Kate, Jessica, Kirsten, Michelle, Rachel, Cara, Melissa, Kim, and Gio, to name a few). Your publicist is not your therapist, your punching bag, your servant, or your go-to person on which to place blame, although I am sure that every publicist has filled those roles more than once and at the same time. Your publicist is your enforcer, your problem solver, your protector, your human shield in the media, and the person on your team who will likely take the bullet for you. Luckily, we wear bulletproof vests like bras and nothing dents our armor. We've got this... if you let us!
6. Long leads
These are the publications that work on a three-month lead time and are in print. Long leads require music, interviews, and information way ahead of blogs and websites, which function differently in this instant digital age in which we live.
7. Short leads
These are the outlets that work on a two-to-three week, or perhaps a month-long lead time. They publish quickly and frequently, and don't have as much lag time in between setup and publication.
Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to Spin.com to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.