PR vs. Advertising


One of the biggest mistakes an individual can make when looking to promote a brand or product is to mistake advertising for public relations. It’s a costly mistake that will almost certainly jeopardize the success of your campaign. As you begin your initiatives, it’s important to understand that advertising is a method to bring attention to your product, service or brand through a paid endorsement, while public relations (PR) is a campaign to create brand awareness using news and community engagement.

Though advertising has its benefits – controlling the message; using “edgy,” attention-grabbing verbiage and images; targeting consumers who are already interested – it also has its pitfalls. Advertising is costly and the price tag comes with an implied endorsement. The use of advertising, which was once a critical component to a brand’s awareness campaign, has begun to decline rapidly – replaced now by the ascent of public relations.

PR leverages the power of the media to promote your business and products to the public using news instead of commercial language. It is designed to keep your company in the public eye and help build a relationship between the public and your business. It also establishes the impression of expertise through a credible third party: something that advertising money can’t buy. In addition, PR is free and costs considerably less to execute. PR encompasses many different techniques, but the ultimate goal is to create brand awareness and gain free publicity.

Think of it this way: with advertising, an ad is purchased and run for a week in the local newspaper or magazine. It could be noticed or it could be overlooked by the desensitized consumer, thus the impact on the market cannot be calculated and money is possibly lost. Whereas with PR, a press release is submitted, using fact-based content and submitted to various media outlets in the area. The journalist could either print the press release or follows up for a bigger story, thus creating a buzz in the industry. This “buzz” could lead to brand loyalty, influenced perceptions and opinions from consumers, and additional PR opportunities. However, PR is not guaranteed. The placement and interpretation of the message is in the hands of the media.

PR is also more extensive than advertising – it involves various formulas to achieving your company’s goals. Beyond just distributing newsworthy press releases, public relations includes: hosting events, goodwill initiatives, developing relationships with area journalists, and sustaining the reputation of the company and its products.

In conclusion, public relations is used as an educational methodology to obtaining awareness and creditability to your new products.

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