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Advertising vs. Public Relations (Explained)

Understanding the Difference Between Ads and Earned Media

While both advertising and public relations build a brand’s image, the difference lies in the methods used to accomplish their goalsAdvertising space is what we call “paid media.” Public relations is “earned” by giving journalists information through engaging pitches, press releases, and images to tell the proposed story. The following points show some of the differences between the two. Adding a strong public relations team to your business’s profile raises your brand’s awareness and reputation. 

Goals: 

Consider your goals when deciding whether or not your business needs advertising or public relations.

Advertising goals inform the public and new customers of their existence in order to generate sales by targeting specific markets. 

Public relations goals builds brand awareness and reputation by creating trust through a third party endorsement. 

Target Audiences:

With advertising, a company controls its message which helps a business establish an identity and a reputation as well as build brand recognition.

Public relations gives information to journalists for third party coverage. Because an article in a publication comes from a trusted source, it feels more organic, and results in positive recognition of the company’s image. One of the newest and easiest ways to improve brand awareness is to work with influencers, those with a large following in the digital, print, and/or broadcast media. By utilizing influencer marketing,, a business engages their audience to build interest in their products and services, and enhance their brand’s voice and image. 

Tactics: 

Generally advertising goals are more short-term in nature geared toward a purchase through boosting a product by giving a discount or promoting a new product. The team at The PR Boutique uses public relations tactics to maintain longstanding, devoted consumer and stakeholder relationships for their clients. 

To this end, social media management is added to a business’s public relations efforts. Customized reporting and analytics reports help a client see how they’re performing in social media circles, and how they continue to grow their audience base. A targeted channel strategy uses similar graphics, colors, photography, and messages to unify and streamline a business’s brand voice and image. With ongoing content creation and management, a comprehensive public relations plan helps a brand stay competitive amongst all the players in the digital world while developing the brand’s voice so it engages with its audience.  

Another tactic used in public relations that engages both clients and consumers is event marketing, planning and production. Public relations teams execute events and/or parties to enhance a business’s long-term image and values. By making a good impression with an impressionable event, invitees feel they have a stronger, lasting tie to the business’s overall well-being. In addition, community involvement, maximizes their charitable and communal partnerships through fundraisers, promotional partnerships, volunteerism, and more. 

Before choosing whether advertising or public relations is right for you, analyze your goals, your budget and what works best for your target market.