Knowing the subtleties of advertising and public relations can help you craft successful marketing communication campaigns.
AS a PR consultant, I have often been asked what the difference is between Public Relations and Advertising. These two areas of marketing are often misunderstood as being the same thing. Both of these are used in Integrated Marketing Communications, yet they are very different.
Advertising is an attempt to persuade consumers to buy their products or services by highlighting the benefits and showcasing the attributes. Public relations, on the other hand, use several tools and methods, such as events or press releases, to create awareness and build a positive image of a company.
Advertising is a paid advertisement space in a media, whether it is a publication (magazine, newspaper, or journals), radio, TV or online. Since clients have paid for this space, they have complete control over the content, design and timing of the advertisement in the publication. They know when the ad will be published or aired and can repeat the ads as long as their budget allows.
In Public Relations, you must earn media attention. PR is focused on getting free media exposure for the company’s products, services or even executives. PR encompasses photo releases to press conferences. While you may have control in creating the message, there is no control over how the media views and presents your message. The media is not obligated to publish your news. A pressing news story may get priority and your PR article may be shelved. The editor will always have the final say. However, if your PR news is newsworthy, it may appear in different sections of the same publications and presented from different angles. For example, a new story about a well-known sportsperson opening a restaurant may appear in the lifestyle, sports and even the front page section.
However, a key to getting the media interested lies in how creatively you craft those messages and their relations to current affairs or public interest. It is important to have an interesting hook or an exciting angle. This is the part where the PR consultant plays an important role. A PR consultant must be able to creatively package the message and maintain good relationships with the media and community.
In advertising, advertisements may be repeated, with the intention of increasing the recall rate of the messages intended to be delivered to the audience or target group. With PR, you have just one chance to submit a press release about the company and the media will publish this only once.
Both advertising and public relations are important elements in creating an effective and successful marketing communications campaign. Both reinforce the message clients want to convey to consumers. Neither is “better” than the other. It all depends on what results the client wants to achieve.