For many people, when they hear about marketing or promotion, the first thing that comes to mind is advertising. It’s not surprising since advertising is probably the most visible form of marketing, with TV commercials, billboards, and radio ads being nearly impossible to escape.

However, advertising is just one small part of the much larger field of marketing, and it’s not always the most effective method of marketing a product or service. In some cases, public relations may be a better option.

So, what’s the difference between advertising and public relations?

Advertising is a paid form of marketing that involves the creation and distribution of ads with the goal of promoting a product, service, or brand.

Public relations is earned media attention. It’s all about building relationships with your audience. You do this by creating and sharing content that positions you as an expert in your industry. This builds trust and credibility, which can eventually lead to sales.

What Are the Main Similarities & Differences of PR and Ads?

Advertising and PR are both pillars within the media industry, but for different reasons. They both involve creating and sharing content, and they both require a certain amount of strategy and planning.

The main difference is that with advertising, you’re paying for placement, whereas with public relations, you’re earning placement.

Advertisements are created with the intent of selling something – it’s the paid aspect of the media. Whereas a PR professional seeks to generate awareness and credibility for a brand, and establish connections and build rapport among media moguls, thereby earning the media’s attention.

It’s no surprise then that Helen Woodward’s famous words still ring true today – “advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”

Below are three key reasons as to why public relations far outweighs advertisements in terms of effectiveness to any brand’s current marketing strategy.

What Are the Benefits of a PR Strategy Over Advertising?

There are several reasons why public relations may be a more effective choice than advertising, depending on your goals. But below are our top six:

1) Credibility & Improved Brand Perception

The way an audience perceives what they are watching, reading or hearing plays an important role in a brand’s overall credibility. When someone sees an ad on television or in a magazine, they are very aware that it was placed there through paid efforts.

Most will walk away from their television during a “commercial break,” or flip carelessly past the advertisement sections in whatever magazine they’re reading, simply because there is a level of skepticism, indifference and monotony that is associated with ads.

However, when a person or brand is featured in the media, there’s an instant credibility factor and a boost in the brand’s awareness and trustworthiness.

Media professionals are not obligated to feature you on their segments, which is why when someone is carefully selected to be interviewed, to have a Q&A or to have a write-up created about their company, it’s an instant lift in authority.

This is something than advertisements cannot bring about, and it’s not something that can be bought through ad space.

2) Reach & Investment

Advertisements are expensive. Particularly if you want prime retail spots on leading TV channels or in major publications. And once the ad runs, that’s it. You would have to continue to pay to run additional advertisements and hit a greater reach.

In addition, most may ignore the ad message on the screen, because they are looking for the news article itself, and not what you are trying to sell them.

However, if your PR firm sends out one press release to various media outlets, the reach is already immense. Once that story gets picked up – particularly if by a national TV network – you could reach thousands, as opposed to hundreds.

Additionally, if the feature was online in a digital newspaper or magazine, it will remain there for years to come – allowing you countless opportunities to share, post, link and utilize to your advantage.

Even if you only received one placement on traditional media, both the read and return on investment from PR would far surpass that of an advertisement.

3) Long-Term Connections & Networking

Part of any good PR strategy is making professional connections and building rapport with media experts.

When you do one or two segments on television, and your name starts getting out there, you will be more likely to get invited back to do more live interviews and features in the future.

You will start to build your own relationships with broadcasters, influencers, reporters and anchors. This level of networking cannot be brought about through advertised efforts.

4) Increased SEO & Site Traffic

One of the many benefits of PR is that you can leverage your earned media to improve your search engine optimization (SEO).

When your brand or website is mentioned in an article, blog post or news segment, there’s a good chance that people will be Googling your company name to learn more about you. The more users that land on your website through organic searches, the higher chances for a lift in overall conversions and sales.

5) Greater Engagement

Organic engagement is one of the key components to social media success. When you share news stories that feature your brand on social media, you are more likely to get people interacting with your posts.

People are far more likely to comment on, share or retweet a post that contains newsworthy content as opposed to an advertisement.

6) Limitless Strategy Options

PR provides you with a nearly limitless amount of strategies to choose from. You can do something as simple as sending out a press release or holding a media event.

You can also get more creative with your PR efforts by conducting influencer outreach, blogger relations or cause marketing.

Truthfully, PR is so much more than getting media placements on television. It also includes:

  • Media relations
  • Crisis communications
  • Event planning
  • Content marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Digital marketing
  • Influencer relations

The options are really endless when it comes to PR, whereas with advertising, you are pretty much stuck to the same old methods.

In Summary

The bottom line is that PR is more than just getting your name in the news. It’s a strategic communications tool that can be used to achieve specific business objectives.

When done correctly, PR can help you to build brand awareness, improve your reputation, increase your SEO, drive traffic to your website and generate leads and sales. It can also help you to build relationships with influential people in your industry, which could lead to more opportunities down the line.

Advertising may be able to achieve some of these objectives, but PR is a more cost-effective and long-term solution that will help you to reach your goals.

Contact Pace Public Relations

If you’re looking to get your name out into the world through strategic media placements on traditional broadcast – television, print, radio, podcast and digital – then we invite you to reach out to Pace Public Relations.

Our team of PR gurus are happy to discuss a PR strategy specifically designed for your brand and help you discover the amazing benefits of having a PR team at your company’s side.