Advertising vs Public Relations
How Do They Compare

Advertising vs Public Relations

The main difference between advertising and public relations is that you have to pay for advertising. On the other hand exposure from public relations is usually not paid for, although it can be. We mill first define advertising and public relations to differentiate them.


One of the most important and most often used tools that business concerns employ is advertising. It is used to convey messages to targeted audiences and demographics.   Advertising can be extremely costly to employ. The process of conveying messages to an audience which may be composed of present or prospective customers through a single medium or multiple mediums is called a campaign.

Advertising vs Public Relations / Public Relations

The main role of public relations is to increase interest and awareness of the audience that you have targeted. This process or campaign (much like a subtle viral marketing campaign ) as it is also called does not necessarily try to convince or persuade them to purchase what you are selling.

The public relations plan seeks to increase awareness and create a positive image of your company through messages that educate and provide information. A public relations program can be effective only if your messages are judged by the media to be of interest to the general public.

Advertising vs Public Relations / 4 Differences

1. Cost.
The first difference is that advertising has to be paid for and public relation is free.

2. Control.
With advertising you get creative control of what you want to print or broadcast since you are paying for the airtime or the space. When you submit a press release about a new product or service you will not have control of what the media will say about your item.

3. Time.
If you’re paying for your space or your airtime you can run your advertisements as long as you have the money to pay for it. Public relations releases however, run only as long as the media think that the public is interested.

4. Audience.
Advertisements are instantly identifiable to your target audience. When a consumer reads or watches advertisements he will be aware that the company selling that product or service is paying for the delivery of that message and often becomes quite cynical about the message being conveyed.

A third party article is often viewed as credible by your audience because they know that these messages have not been paid for especially so if the third party has high credibility with the general public.

Advertising is tailored for your target audience. When you advertise in an outdoor sports magazine you will not be placing advertisements for woman’s’ lingerie in that male oriented magazine. Public relations theory points to a hype or a buzz about the person running the campaign, so that its audience is anyone-male or female, young or old.

Advertising vs Public Relations / Which Is Better?

A combination of the two methods is generally regarded as most effective. A marketing strategy that is an incorporation of the two methods to produce the desired results would be the ideal process. Although advertising requires a bigger budget public relations is often considered to be the larger scale operation because advertising deals only with a marketing and sales while public relations encompasses the total communications activity of the entire organization.

Finally it would be wise for any organization with sufficient resources to let public relations work with advertising rather than rely solely on one method. Both these methods should be regarded as aspects of one comprehensive business strategy.

Thank you for visiting the advertising vs public relations pages.

For more information about public relations and how public relations can boost the reputation of your business follow these links:

Learn the art of persuasion. See the Public Relations Theory page.

Learn the basics. See the Public Relations Definition page.

Get on a handle on how to set a success campaign in motion. Go to the Public Relations Plan page.

Get resources that can help your business shine. See the Public Relations Articles page.

Get more see our Public Relations Magazines page.

What are the Functions of Public Relations? Find out here.

Dig deeper. See the Public Relations History page.

Get more Public Relations Theories. Knowledge is power.

See the top Public Relations Blogs here.

Get equipped to spotlight your business. See our Public Relations Tips page.

Need a Public Relations Proposal. We can help. More here.

Spotlight your product effectively. Find out more on the Product Public Relations page.

Build your business with integrity. Go to the Ethics in Public Relations page for more.

For a deeper analysis of PR go to the What is Public Relations page.

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