Advertising Versus Public Relations

Comparing Advertising and Public Relations

Advertising versus PR? Which is best for your business? We explain why advertising is very different from PR and why smart entrepreneurs need to know when to use advertising and when to use PR.

Do you understand when to use advertising instead of PR? We outline the fundamental differences between public relations and advertising.

Advertising Promotion

  • Space or time in the mass media must be paid for.
  • You determine the message.
  • You control timing.
  • One-way communication - using the mass media does not allow feedback.
  • Message sponsor is identified.
  • The intention of most messages is to inform, persuade, or remind about a product - usually with the intention of making a sale.
  • The public may view the message negatively, recognizing advertising as an attempt to persuade or manipulate them.
  • Very powerful at creating image.
  • Writing style is usually persuasive, can be very creative, often taking a conversational tone - may even be grammatically incorrect.

Public Relations

  • Coverage in mass media, if any, is not paid for.
  • Interpretation of the message is in the hands of the media.
  • Timing is in the hands of the media.
  • Two-way communication - the company should be listening as well as talking and the various PR venues often provide immediate feedback.
  • Message sponsor is not overtly identified.
  • The intention of public relations efforts is often to create good will, to keep the company and/or product in front of the public, or to humanize a company so the public relates to its people or reputation rather than viewing the company as a non-personal entity.
  • The public often sees public relations messages that have been covered by the media as more neutral or believable.
  • Can also create image, but can sometimes stray from how it was originally intended.
  • Writing style relies heavily on journalism talents - any persuasion is artfully inserted in the fact-based content.

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