Advertising pays, public relations persuades – The difference between PR and advertising

30 Jul 2019

Advertising and public relations share a common goal - improving a clients’ visibility. This is usually done by increasing sales or another tangible benefit. But due to some similar traits, people are often confused by the difference between advertising and public relations.

This common goal is where the similarities end as although they both relate to marketing, advertising and PR are two entirely different disciplines. An example to remember is the purchase of air time on a radio station to talk is advertising, but being invited by that radio station to talk is public relations. And coverage in editorial pages of media is free of charge, whereas placing an advert in the same media can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds.

There are many ways to do and monitor advertising, the two main methods used are:

Outbound advertising - a traditional style of marketing where adverts are placed in front of customers. Examples of this are TV ads, billboards and banners.

Inbound advertising - a non-intrusive modern method of advertising that doesn’t always look like advertising. Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing is designed to draw in potential consumers like with a company blog or branded content.

Advertising is a sponsored message designed to publicly promote or sell a product, service, or idea. It differs from public relations because it is purchased, known as paid for media, and is a one-way process. Advertising is also published or aired for as long as a business is willing to pay for it, and is not always seen as credible as PR because it does not come with third party validation.

When it comes to PR, a potential consumer is more likely to trust the word of a third party than the words of a company in an advert. People don’t like being sold to; but they don’t mind learning about a product or a service from someone they trust.

Credibility is also higher in public relations than in advertising, and in contrast to advertising, the same press release is only published once and is circulated both in print and online to a whole host of media and is often used free of charge. This is known as earned media. 

PR is a two way process and works with businesses to help them maintain a positive image in the media. If you would like to see how a PR campaign could benefit your company, get in touch with us today at