Public relations and advertising are often mistakenly thought to be the same thing, but they actually have distinct differences. While both involve managing and promoting a person or brand’s image in the media, their approaches and objectives differ. Advertising is a paid form of communication that aims to persuade and sell products or services, while public relations focuses on building relationships, managing reputation, and creating a positive image through earned media coverage and strategic communication.

What are public relations? 

Public relations, sometimes known as PR, is a communication strategy to establish a strong, functional, and positive relationship between a firm and the general public. As a public relations professional, one of your primary responsibilities is to ensure that your client maintains a positive image and uses consistent messaging with the established brand voice. This helps your client to create a strong bond with their target audience and maintain their status as a reliable source of information.

What is advertising? 

Advertising is the practice of using sponsored advertising to promote and sell a brand, product or service through a variety of media sources and channels. These include print and digital commercials, television, and radio. You can use advertising to target certain audience segments with your resources and messaging. This allows you to attract a large number of potential clients who appreciate your goods and are therefore more likely to buy them.

Public relations vs. advertising 

Since public relations and advertising are similar practices, they usually have a lot in common. Even so, there are some situations where one solution is preferable to the other. The following are some key distinctions between public relations and advertising:

1) Cost of implementation

Let’s assume you want to include adverts on some digital media channels. You must pay for ad space or air time that will last from one date to the next. Press conferences, press releases, and news articles are all tools that you can use to acquire free publicity through public relations.

2) Control over messaging and graphics 

Given that you pay for an ad, you usually have complete control over what it says and how it looks – you can even design the ad yourself. With public relations, you tell your narrative to the media in the hopes that they will broadcast it. If they do decide to broadcast it, the media professionals decide how, when, and where to broadcast it.

3) Length of public coverage 

The amount of money that you pay to display an advertisement usually determines how long it stays up. On the other hand, positive media coverage is based on a newsworthy topic that journalists announce and circulate once before moving on to the next item. For this reason, any articles that you publish through the media usually last for a shorter time.

4) Target audiences 

Advertisers frequently target their marketing to smaller groups of people to connect with individual customers more directly. In contrast, public relations professionals typically contribute their stories to the media for publication on various media channels. The goal of advertising is to reach a specific segment of the public with your announcement. On the other hand, the goal of public relations is to capture media attention with a newsworthy story in the hopes of reaching a broader audience and raising awareness for the company and brand.

5) Objectives of the campaign 

The primary goal of advertisements is to promote a brand or product while also demonstrating its value to buyers. On the other hand, the goal of public relations is to generate trust and cultivate a relationship by projecting a positive image for the brand.

6) Level of consumer trust

When consumers read an advertisement, they know that they are being sold something. On the other hand, someone who reads a news article about your product or watches TV coverage of your event is viewing something you didn’t pay for with ad dollars. Since this content has received a third-party endorsement, the news media considers it to be of some value. For this reason, the public will trust media coverage of your brand more than they’ll trust a sponsored advertisement for your brand.

7) Level of creativity

With advertising, you get to use your imagination to develop new ad campaigns and materials. Conversely, in order to be successful in public relations, you must have a keen sense of the news and be able to build buzz through numerous media outlets. You also need creativity in PR, but this comes in the form of coming up with ideas and writing materials that the news media find interesting.

8) In-house or out on the town 

If you work in an advertising agency, your coworkers and the agency clients are your primary contacts. While working at an advertising agency, you would also communicate regularly with your contacts in print newspapers, broadcast media, and internet sites. You can also expect to interact with media consultants if you acquire and plan ad space on behalf of a customer. On the other hand, while working in a public relations role, you would communicate with the press and form connections with editors, news directors, and reporters.

9) Limited or unlimited contact 

In advertising, clients are contacted by specific industry professionals. Copywriters and graphic designers, for example, may never meet with a customer. However, in public relations, you are the main contact person for media professionals. Additionally, unlike advertisers, public relations professionals aren’t always expected to provide good news. Since you are the firm’s representative, you may be required to make a company statement following a crisis. Similarly, you might need to organize an on-camera interview for journalists if there was an accident or pending litigation at your company.

10) Writing style 

Purchase this item! Take action right now! Make a call right now! All of these statements are typical for a commercial. Advertisers find it useful to employ these action phrases to entice customers to purchase their products. However, in PR, you have to adhere strictly to the who, what, where, when, and why news format. All the news you share should be from an objective point of view rather than the point of view of a salesperson trying to convince someone to buy a product. The media will cut out any overt commercial statements in your correspondence. In fact, the very presence of an overt commercial statement in your story might turn a media professional off and discourage them from sharing it with the public.

What should a brand choose – advertising or PR?

Now that we have seen the differences between PR and advertising, the question remains whether a brand should choose one or use both.

The answer to that question is to use both. Both advertising and PR have distinct purposes and, as a result, lead to specific results. For this reason, the best approach to generating publicity is a combination of the two.

Advertising is an excellent way to reach out to your customers and show them that your brand is a good fit for them. Digital advertising is essential because it will help you to communicate directly with your customers. Additionally, by reviewing your advertisement analytics, you can identify and target a specific segment of customers, increasing your chances of success and conversion.

At the same time, public relations raises awareness among a wide range of audiences. PR material is also written truthfully and based on real-life experience, earning the brand public trust. Today, we rely on so many various outlets to provide information and news. For this reason, having reliable communication may put your company miles ahead of the competition.

To summarize, the right combination of advertising and public relations is the best way of increasing your exposure, establishing the right perception of your brand, and reaching out to your customers. With the right strategy, you can persuade these people to check out your products and eventually convert them into paying customers.

How to choose between a career in PR or advertising 

Before you decide whether you’re well-suited to help brands generate publicity through PR or advertising, you need to determine if you are the right person for the job. This means figuring out whether you have what it takes to have a career in either field.

Despite the fact that they work in similar industries, advertisers and PR professionals have very diverse jobs and responsibilities. When deciding which one to pursue, consider how the work duties correspond with your interests and abilities. To effectively pick between a profession in public relations or advertising, follow these steps:

1) Evaluate your skillset 

Before deciding on a professional path, assess your skill set to see if it matches the requirements of each field. Employees with the following talents do well in advertising because the responsibilities often focus on thinking and planning or writing innovative campaigns:

  • Teamwork abilities
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Creativity
  • Ambition and drive
  • Strategy building

The majority of responsibilities in the field of public relations are concerned with creating relationships and maintaining a positive image among the public and the business. To guarantee that all messaging and materials given to audiences are professional, employees must be exceptionally attentive and collaborative. The following are some of the most common talents required by public relations professionals:

  • Attention to detail
  • Presentation and public speaking abilities
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Time-management and organization
  • PR and news-based writing abilities

2) Review the job titles and tasks involved 

Once you’ve identified your talents and abilities, you can compare them to the responsibilities listed under various job titles within each industry. Investigate each job title of each role. You should also go beyond that to evaluate the responsibilities that would be required of you in both public relations and advertising. Building strong relationships between organizations and the press, scheduling public appearances at press meetings, writing press releases, and planning events to promote awareness or cash for an organization are all common public relations responsibilities.

Advertising professionals may perform similar responsibilities. However, they will be more focused on developing engaging and innovative campaigns. Writing compelling advertisement copy, booking space for adverts, designing beautiful visuals, and determining budgets for various campaigns are some of the primary responsibilities of advertising professionals.

3) Determine how creative you are

When deciding whether a job in public relations or a job in advertising is better suited for you, think about your interests and strengths. A career in advertising can be perfect for you if you prefer to use your creative skills to complete the majority of your responsibilities. Many advertising firms look for creative applicants because advertising usually requires you to brainstorm fresh concepts and strategies that set a business apart from the competition. If you love to design eye-catching content and you want to apply your creative writing talents, then a career in advertising career is perfect for you.

If you want a job where you can utilize more of your right brain to plan, evaluate, and implement different tactics, then you should consider a job in public relations. A job in public relations enables you to organize events such as press conferences and fundraising campaigns. This allows you to put your organizational talents to good use. You can also exercise your attention to detail to examine documents before they’re released to the public and verify that the information provided is accurate and puts the company in a favorable light.

4) Assess your interpersonal skills 

You should also consider interpersonal skills while deciding between marketing and public relations. If you’d choose to spend your time dealing with clients or the press, you could be better suited for a public relations position. If you prefer to work as part of a team on group projects and brainstorm ideas, then an advertising role may be ideal.


The most significant distinction between PR and marketing is that advertising gives you more control over the final content that the public sees. Before paying the media to share the campaign, you produce the materials for the campaign. PR involves a less regulated process because the media sources to who you pitch your story are the ones who decide how to share the content. Journalists, bloggers, and influencers in the same field are frequently part of your network as a PR practitioner.

If you need an extra hand with your public relations, you can reach out to the PR professionals at Pressfarm. Armed with a team of PR specialists, expert writers, and certified designers, Pressfarm can help you create content that captures attention and inspires your target audiences.

With a professional press release, a few engaging guest posts, and an eye-catching media kit from Pressfarm, you can stand out in your industry and win more people to your brand. In addition to helping you create this quality content, the experts at Pressfarm can help you distribute it widely.

By submitting your content to the right media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can help your brand to feature in relevant search results across search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing! Finally, when you sign up, the Account Executive builds custom media lists for your brand. Together with a media database of 1 million+ contacts, these media lists are designed to help you connect with the best journalists, bloggers, and influencers in your niche.

With any of Pressfarm’s PR packages, you can build a winning PR campaign for your brand.