Advertising Branding PR

What’s the difference between PR and advertising?

Sort your marketing and communications strategy with a bit of both.

Good public relations and strong advertising are both vital to your success, no matter what your business is, no matter how big or small, and no matter what products you sell or what services you deliver. Public relations is similar to advertising in that it’s a form of marketing communications and the desired outcomes are alike: you want to build awareness of your brand and products to boost sales, leads and traffic and send folk eagerly in your direction.

However, public relations differs from advertising in that it focusses on the long-term, on building and maintaining reputation and relationships with wider audiences, without paying for big campaigns and advertising space.

While advertising tends to centre on the short-term (often seasonal, even) and specific products, PR can be leveraged by providing information about your overall business and it’s own ‘personality’ through unpaid channels, such as press releases, pitches, or interviews for blogs, podcasts and trade magazines.

Public relations often takes a more balanced approach than advertising. It’s less about how buying a specific product will make you the fittest, healthiest, fastest, biggest and most fragrant dude in the street, and more about engaging storytelling.
How the boffins at your brand found a problem faced by people just like you, dear reader – and how they sat down and worked out how to solve it. How your brand has since continued to fix that problem, and gone on to solve others, to become the best goddamn fixers of things you used to have a problem with in that particular section of the market.

Read and research

So, if you want to put in place a plan for improving your public relations output, schedule out some time to read up and research. Get to know the publications that matter in your field. The blogs. The podcasts. The influencers. Who are the relevant journalists out there? The influencers with the biggest following?

What’s your plan? What are you going to tell them? Remember, you need to give them a reason to want to speak to you, to write about you or to demonstrate your product. How are you getting in touch?

What’s the plan?
(Photo: andresr/iStock)

Articles and communications such as these, stories and interviews that feature you and your brand, have the power to be shared further than ever online. Most print magazines have a digital presence, and accompanying social media accounts which make article, video and audio sharing an instant possibility. Soon, your content (and by association, the reputation of your brand) could be flashing up on phones and laptops nationwide, even internationally.

And it didn’t cost you a bean. The only money you spent was on the two cups of coffee and the flapjack you treated the journalist to, in the cafe you gave your interview in, just up the road from your house.

Mmm. Flapjacks. If anyone can point me in the direction of a decent flapjack here in Berlin, I’d love to speak to you. Now.

Good PR builds credibility. Soon everyone will want a piece of you…
(Photo: microgen/iStock)

Earn your exposure

Anyway. Let’s simplify things even further.

Advertising is exposure you pay for. PR is exposure you earn.

As your business and brand build reputation through good PR, you become known for your good qualities. You earn credibility based on your reliability. Your trustworthiness. This is where you can capitalise on third-party endorsements; influencer studies, articles written about your business by professional journalists, customer recommendations, reviews and the like.

Then, there are times you can cross the two and tie them up together.

Think about it: how can you mix it up and blend some of that credibility, positivity and proof into your advertising? Some would argue (and some already have, such as the great American advertising guru George Lois) that all advertising campaigns should come with PR built-in, building such a level of trust and common understanding that people everywhere understand the brand so well to the point that its slogan is quoted by people on the street to one another.

Depends on the size of your target audience, I guess – not to mention the strength and creativity of (and budget afforded to) your PR and advertising teams! But it gives you something to aim for when planning the next move in regards to your marketing and communications strategy.

Aim high, think hard, and act.


Share and enjoy.

Get your marketing and communications right first time.

Wherever you are in the world, good content is the cornerstone of your PR and advertising.
So hire a native English copywriter who can put the right words exactly where you need them, in press releases, articles, adverts and more.
Let’s talk.

Similar Posts