Advertising vs. PR… What is the Big Difference?

By Amanda Bala

Advertising versus PR… is there really a big difference?  Actually, yes, there is.  Both of these marketing tactics are very important to any business big or small and do work in conjunction with one another.  However, you need to understand the difference between the two to properly use them in an effective marketing campaign. 

Advertising is running commercials, radio ads, print ads, etc.  In general, it is pushing your message out to the masses.  For example, advertising can be a static ad that sends out a message; Come here, do this, buy that.  It can be a commercial run on television, radio or the internet.  It is a way of trying to persuade people to come and try your product or service. 

PR, on the other hand, is the story of what you are doing. It is word of mouth and people discussing you because they read about you in the paper or saw a news reporter doing a story on you. It builds credibility. People think differently about your business if it’s in a more natural story-like manner rather than in an advertisement.

Let’s look briefly at an example. Say for instance, you just had the grand opening of a new restaurant. One of the local news channels runs a story about the grand opening and how great it was. They interview patrons who are there and run the story on the evening news. That is PR.  Now, once that news segment ends and they go to commercial, suddenly there is your restaurant again. This time it is a commercial that you created for your restaurant. That is advertising.  The PR builds the credibility of your restaurant and the advertising tries to drive people out to try it. They work nicely together. PR can often times reinforce what your advertisements are saying.

Try to remember that PR and Advertising are very different, but that both are extremely important.  Once you understand the distinction, you can use the two together and start effectively marketing your company!

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