March 25, 2021 Sally

Public Relations vs Advertising: What’s the Difference?

Understand the difference between public relations and advertising from the PR experts at Playbook PR. Read more on the blog.

You know it’s time to increase your business’ reach and there are many strategies to execute to not only increase the awareness of your brand but get a better return on investment for your efforts too. Knowing the difference between public relations and advertising, who can help you bring focus to your action items, and when to use each of these levers can make a dramatic difference in your business’ success.

Public relations and advertising can be seen as two-star players in your playbook. PR is earned by making connections in the media and beyond whereas advertising is paid for and targeted to certain niche audiences. Public relations cast a wider net as it helps to create brand awareness and increases your reputation. PR is a solid strategy to build trust for your business because a third party has effectively given you a vote of confidence by taking your effective press release or pitch and then gives you opportunities for an interview, thought leadership article, social media mentions, and beyond. Audiences are more likely to do business with companies they know and admire, and this is where PR helps to build this organically. Since a third party is doing the promotions, you do not control the final result or frequency of the PR.

In contrast, advertising is typically for promoting specific products, services, and deals to key groups of potential customers at a cost, oftentimes for specific buying seasons. Depending on where you place the ad, how long the ad will run, and how much exposure it gets will determine the price. You get more control with advertising from the design, content, and frequency of it running since your business is calling the plays. 

PR is all about storytelling as journalists, reporters, and editors are constantly on the lookout for credible sources to bring their stories to life. Where can your company help them see the big picture, get meaningful information to their audiences, and build their base? When your PR can make these plays, the media will be more open to your unique offerings. A magazine feature, TV segment, or newspaper article can go viral with re-posts, likes, tweets, and emails, giving you a lot of earned media for your effort. The role of media continues to expand with social influencers, industry experts, and other stakeholders becoming key storytellers in your PR efforts.

As public relations efforts increase, search engine optimization can also improve. Backlinks from top-tier websites help to build your credibility online and increased views, clicks, and sales can be measured from your PR efforts too. As others produce content about you and post it online, your business will go up in the search rankings and people will see legitimate external content about you that shows your strengths in the marketplace. Consumers like to see other content than just your website, social media, and digital marketing when they look on search engines.

The difference between public relations and advertising also comes down to timing and effort. When your business needs to make a big splash, has an ample marketing budget, knows what message you want to convey, and you need to act fast, advertising is the best lever to control the message on your terms. Advertising does take effort, but it can be distinguished between an individual ad or a full ad campaign over a set time period. In contrast, PR takes time to build. From building relationships with the media and key influencers and stakeholders to crafting pitches and press releases, PR does take time and effort on a routine, sustained basis to get wins. Many studies have shown how PR prompts more buying decisions since third-party endorsements create more trust in your company with consumers, so the extra time and effort is worth it.

As strategies to help get your business or organization to the next level, the combination of public relations and advertising in your marketing mix will create a more solid foundation. At Playbook, our clients benefit from robust campaigns that include public relations, advertising, digital strategies, social media, influencer relations, strategic alliances, and promotions. Our track record of delivering unprecedented media exposure, expertise in advertising, and serving as an extension of your team is the winning playbook for your business. Contact Playbook Public Relations at (813) 789-7122 or online to re-energize your marketing and brand.

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