Advertising and PR both help to build brand awareness and communication with appropriate audiences. There is one fundamental difference though: advertising space is almost always paid for, and public relations is based on the information the brand shares with the media through press releases, pitches and articles shared.
Despite this major underlying difference, there are many other ways in which these two strategies differ, let’s explore a little deeper:
- Purpose and Intention: Public relations helps to build brand awareness and reputation. The goal behind a successful PR campaign would be a pitch that is centred around the fact that consumers place more trust in, and are more likely to do business with, a company they are familiar with and respect.
Advertisements are sale orientated and tend to have specific target market in mind while focusing on selling a product or service, rather than building a customer relationship.
- Control: Advertising gives you total control over the look, what it will say, its placement and when it will be released. If you’re advertising Aussie sports betting you can ensure maximum returns by placing the ad at the right time before a match or game.
The amount of exposure your ad gains is directly related to how much money you’ve spent on it. PR however is always directly working with media and you have far less control on the outcome of the campaign. The media has the final say on your campaign and all things related to it.
- Planning and Approach: Advertising is a short term oriented approach. It is usually seasonal or aimed at pushing specific content which often has a time limit to it. This looks like holiday shopping, or promotion of sales and discounts to boost short term sales. PR on the other hand is always looking at the bigger picture.
The information in a PR campaign is designed to deliver relevant and purposeful information about the brand, this aims to build a long term and dedicated foundation of customers, followers, fans or consumers.
- Reliability and Trustworthiness: We all know that adverts aren’t always what they appear to be. The aim of an ad, as we saw above, is to boost short term sales. Brands in advertising are known for omitting certain information that may put the consumer off the product or service. For example, an ad released for a free holiday may have all the right imagery and wording, but may actually be in an undesirable place in the middle of winter.
Consumers do not believe everything an advertisement tells them. PR is aimed at building trust and a long lasting relationship, this makes PR to be a much more credible and reliable experience for the consumer.
All business will benefit from advertising, and PR. But the best thing to do for your business is to use both and to not focus on only one or the other. Finding smooth and simple ways to integrate PR and advertising into your overall marketing strategy is the best way to go. Your target audience should ideally be exposed to your brand message in more than one way from more than one source in order for the message to get across.