13 Key Difference Between Public Relations and Advertising

Public relations is two-way communication. The inflow of information and feedback is just as valuable in public relations as the outflow of information. In market advertising and public relations work together but both have different benefits.

difference between public relations and advertising
difference between public relations and advertising

Advertising is the nonpersonal communication of marketing-related information to a target audience, usually paid for by the advertiser, and delivered through mass media in order to reach the specific objectives of the sponsor.

Comparison of Public Relations and Advertising

The principal differences between public relations and advertising are outlined below:

1. Objectives

The objective of advertising is to create consumer awareness and motivation that deliver sales.

The goal of public relations is communicating with various stakeholders, managing the organization’s image and reputation, and creating positive public attitudes (goodwill towards the organization).

The anti-smoking campaign illustrates how a public relations campaign can change.

2. View and Approach

Public relations take a longer, broader view.

Advertisement is a corporate competitive asset and addresses more target audience.

3. Integrated Approach to Mass Communication

If we believe in an integrated approach to mass communication, advertising and public relations should be complementary even though one focuses on products and the other on the organization.

As one researcher observed, “In IMC, company assets and product assets are managed at the same time.”

In integrated programs, advertising and public relations aim at different targets with different but complementary messages.

Related: 12 Essential Tools of Public Relations (Explained with Example).

4. Factual and Informative

Public relations writing must be factual and informative, and free of puffery.

To achieve credibility, it needs to be educational rather than persuasive, giving factual formation rather than making emotional or dramatic claims and should avoid self-praise.

5. Scope

Public relations apply to any organization which may not engage in advertising.

A fire brigade does not advertise for fires.

6. Editors and Producers

Public relations deals with the editors and producers of the media, but advertising with sellers of advertisement space.

7. Market Segments and Publies

Whereas advertising is usually addressed to particular market segments and certain social grades, public relations may be addressed to the numerous public or groups of people with whom an organization has to communicate.

8. Different Costs

The costs of public relations are different.

In advertising, major costs are creative, space, airtime and production.

In public relations, they are time, since public relations is labor-intensive, plus production costs such as printing house journals or making videos.

9. Media Use

In contrast to buying advertising time and space, public relations people seek to persuade media gatekeepers to carry stories about their company.

similarities between public relations and advertising
similarities between public relations and advertising

Gatekeepers include writers producers, editors, talk show coordinators, and newscasters.

Advertising will mostly use existing commercial media such as press, radio, and TV, plus direct mail and exhibitions.

Public relations will use a much bigger variety of commercial media, plus the created media of house journals, slides, video, audiotapes, private exhibitions, educational print, seminars, and sponsorship.

10. Control

In the case of news stories, the public relations strategist depends on the media people – the editor, or reporter.

There is no guarantee that all or even part of a story will appear.

In contrast, advertising runs exactly as the client who paid for it has approved. And it runs as scheduled.

11. Credibility

Successful public relations efforts bring credibility not usually associated with advertising.

Experts believe that consumers tend to trust the media more than they do advertisers.

Public relations close the marketing credibility gap because it is the one marketing communication tool devoted to provided information, not salesmanship.

12. Reward

Advertising agencies and public relations consultancies may be remunerated differently.

13. Desired Action

Advertising aims to persuade people to take some desired action such as visit a shop, respond by post or telephone, or simply remember, in order to buy.

Public relations aims to create mutual understanding.

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