What is the main difference between public relations and advertising? If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you already know they’re both marketing tactics and want to know more. But how do they differ? Are PR and advertising two sides of the same coin? Do they achieve different objectives? We’ll answer all of these questions, and more, in this article.
What’s the difference between public relations and advertising?
The difference between public relations and advertising is advertising is a “paid media” way to promote the products or services of a companywhere as Public Relations is an “earned media” way to promote the services of a brand. The main difference is that with PR, there is no direct exchange of money. You don’t pay a media channel or publication for coverage. PR is all about building relationships, and the use of this strategy can lead to coverage that has a positive impact on your business. Advertising, on the other hand, is a direct exchange of money for advertising space or time. Your payment buys the opportunity to promote your brand in front of your target audience. The main difference between PR and advertising is that PR is not a paid media strategy. The goal is to create positive relationships, which can lead to free coverage for your business. With advertising, you are paying for a specific amount of exposure for your product or service.
In order to understand better the difference between public relations and advertising, we need to understand their major roles as mentioned below.
Major roles of PR Professionals
- Content Writer: They say, never underestimate the power of words. The use of the right word in the right place can solve any issue. In PR, content plays a vital role in keeping the right message to the audience. Be it, Nike, McDonald’s or any other brand, the first thing they do is create a brand message that their audience can connect with. Content writing is not only limited to brand messaging but all kinds of announcements that a brand has to make for its stakeholders.
- Media Expert: Media is the only channel to spread brand awareness to a mass population in one go and for that, you always need someone who knows media very well. It needs a lot of effort and practice to make good relations and maintain that relationships with the media. From daily media tracking to connecting on calls with the journalists, a PR person does it all to make a good connection with the media.
- Research and brainstorming: To make a brand stand out in the market, requires a lot of research and brainstorming. When I say research it means, research about the client, the industry it belongs to, policies related to the client’s services, current affairs in the industry, and whatnot. Brainstorm ideas for campaigns, story pitches, product launches, etc.
- Social media manager: As we are aware that now public interest is no more limited to newspapers, it has extended to digital media in a vast population. The requirement for creating a social media handle and making it engaging, it takes a lot of creativity and agility. There comes the role of a social media manager and now a PR does it all.
- Crisis management: Crisis can occur anytime anywhere. One negative news and the whole reputation of a brand goes into vain. Taking the right step without wasting a single second can save a brand’s reputation. In crisis management, the first and foremost thing is the holding statement which needs to be prepared beforehand on behalf of the spokesperson because when something disastrous happens, people look out for the spokesperson’s statement. It is not the end here. Managing journalists to spread the right message and stop the rumours if any against the brand.
- Influencer management: Well traditional media has been a major part of PR and it still is but for the past few years, digital media has made its own way in PR. Influencer marketing is one of them. Now, measuring campaigns is not that difficult anymore as it is now just a matter of the number of clicks, shares and views. This is even more accurate as compared to how PR pros used to measure earlier in traditional media. For influencer marketing, there is a lot that goes behind the scenes and for that, a brand needs a PR professional. From selecting the right influencer for a brand’s need and deciding the activity, remuneration, time and so on, PR professionals do it all. It does not only help in promoting a brand’s services and offerings but also helps in crisis management.
Major roles of an advertising professional
- Copywriter: A copywriter specialises in writing copy, or the text and slogans used to sell a particular product or service. A copywriter will be responsible for brainstorming ideas for new campaigns, writing persuasive content that effectively sells the product or service being offered, and reviewing and editing finished advertisements created by the rest of the team.
- Account Executive: An account executive is responsible for managing and maintaining relationships with clients. Account executives research the needs of potential clients to find the best possible fit for the business.
- Marketing Coordinator: A marketing coordinator is responsible for overseeing the parts of the advertising campaign that are done by outside sources, such as research firms, public relations specialists, and copywriters.
- Art Director: An art director is responsible for the visual aspects of an advertisement campaign. An art director will create and oversee the creation of visual concepts and mock-ups for advertisements.
- Social Media Manager: A social media manager is responsible for managing a company’s social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A social media manager will create a social media plan that meets the needs of the organisation.
- Digital Marketer: A digital marketer is responsible for promoting a company’s products and services through online platforms, such as video hosting websites, blogs, email marketing campaigns, and social media platforms. The digital marketer will create a plan that promotes the company’s products and services and meets the needs of potential customers.
Overall the difference between public relations and advertising is, PR is a long-term strategy, whereas advertising is a short-term tactic. PR involves a lot of relationship building. It’s not uncommon for PR pros to spend weeks or even months building relationships with journalists and other influencers. PR pros might give away free products or services, or they might invite journalists and other influencers to attend conferences or other events. PR pros also keep journalists and other influencers up-to-date with information about their brands and products. Whereas, advertising is a very short-term strategy. Companies often have their ads produced and placed within a week. Because ads are often short, they are often more effective at changing a potential customer’s behaviour than PR. An ad can make people feel the urge to act (e.g. “Buy now!”). An ad can also elicit an emotional response (e.g. “This product is great!”). An ad can also be used to inform consumers (e.g. “This product is made in America”). It is necessary for students to know the difference between public relations and advertising in order to pursue their career in either of the profession. There is no doubt that both PR and advertising are marketing tactics worth considering for any business. The most important thing is to choose the one that works best for your business.