Advertising Versus Public Relations

In a nutshell the difference is…cost.

Marketing is the umbrella that covers both advertising and public relations activities, but the two differ in important ways.

  1. Getting your message out to a large audience requires targeted messages. With advertising, you can control the place and time your message is sent to your audience. With public relations, you rely on media and word-of-mouth to entice audience members to read your message.
  2. Some major paid advertising channels include print, broadcast, outdoor, digital, and direct marketing. Each message relies on the right channel to get to your audience. Print audiences tend to be Baby Boomers and above, while digital marketing works well with Millennials and Gen Y members. Outdoor and broadcast are the shotgun approaches.
  3. Public relations reaches many of these same audiences for free! News releases are one of the primary ways to get your message to all appropriate media outlets so they can push it out to your audiences…at their discretion. There’s no guarantee that you’ll hit the news without paid advertising.
  4. Social media isn’t only for sharing photos on your wall. Facebook company pages are a good way to build loyal followers to your brand. Twitter allows you to shout out your messages to followers, and LinkedIn allows you to interact with others in your industry and provide news and important information. Other major digital media sources are Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, Constant Contact, and other email marketing apps.
  5. Advertising generates a very specific ROi. Dollars spent compared to the return garnered is the straightforward formula for return on investment. With public relations, it’s harder to measure your return. The ROi from social media is measured by audience response and involvement, not increased sales (though that could be a great side effect of PR).
  6. Targeting a specific audience is easier with paid advertising. With paid media, you choose the channel, the message, the date and time, and the distribution breadth and depth. With social media, anyone, anywhere in the world might see your message and share or respond. Going “viral” simply means a message that is sent and resent to thousands of people.
  7. PR tools are many. Public relations tactics include flyers, newsletters, brochures, white papers, social media marketing, posters, and annual reports, among others. Special events including community outreach, education, fundraising, and anniversary celebrations are all great PR tools for marketers.

When it comes to choosing a marketing mix, it’s important to remember the target audience and choose the media channel that will most effectively reach your audiences based on your budget.

For help formulating your marketing plan, contact Hannah/Gold Communications.