Advertising vs. Public Relations

Advertising and public relations – although similar in some ways – are also very different. Both being very wide subjects this article will not cover everything you need to know, but hopefully, this will help.

What is Advertising?

Advertising is a marketing communication of either an audio or visual nature. These messages are generally non-personal and can be seen by thousands upon thousands of people – if your advert is on the right platform. These marketing techniques are used to advertise products or services to consumers. There are many different ways to market to different types of people based on segmentations such as age, gender, interests, behaviours etc. Advertising can sometimes be seen as a manipulative and aggressive form of marketing, as it can play on people’s emotions, get into their subconscious and be constant, but when it’s targeted to the right audience in the right way, can be extremely beneficial to a company.

What is Public Relations?

Public relations (PR) is the practice of exchanging information between an organisation and the public and is often used to gain publicity. PR is generally a lower cost practice than advertising as you are relying heavily on word of mouth and news outlets such as TV, and newspaper, to write stories about your company – rather than pay to have your company name out there. This can be done in a number of ways but pretty much all of the techniques used are to gain attention. PR can also be used for brand rejuvenation if there is negativity surrounding a brand because they have done something wrong, they can use PR to flip the negativity into something positive. It is not uncommon to see bad press about an organisation in the press one week and then shortly after seen an article about their recent charity work.


Some Types of Advertising

Broadcast – TV, Radio

Print – Newspapers, Magazines

Internet – Google, Facebook

Direct Marketing – email marketing, flyers through doors, text messages

Product Placement – TV shows, movies




Some Types of PR

Social Media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

Newsletters – Generally for staff

Press Release – sent to the press

Sponsorships and Partnerships – celebrities, influential people

Events – launch parties, company anniversaries

Press Conference – invite members of the press to come and ask questions

Publicity Stunt – flash mob,


Benefits of Using Marketing

Direct Control – In advertising, you have control over how your business is portrayed through adverts, as PR is more about influencing the message.

Easier to Evaluate Results – when advertising you can acquire data a lot more easily than you can with PR.

Reach – If an advert is targeted to the correct audience and is positioned on an appropriate platform it can be incredibly easy to target people who are actually interested in the product – hopefully boosting sales.


Benefits of Using PR

Cost – PR is generally cheaper than advertising.

Influence – consumers are more likely to trust a message coming from an objective source rather than a paid advert.

Reach – although it’s not guaranteed, successful PR campaigns can reach a lot of people, especially if the story gets picked up by several media outlets.

Builds Brand Image – PR is generally more reliable than advertising when it comes to building brand image and reputation