Public relations and advertising are both in the marketing communications family.
But there are specific features making each if the two fields unique.
What are these features? The views of Robert Wynne on this discourse are truly exciting. Wynne owns a public relations and events agency, so he writes from a wealth of experience. You really should read this.
Wynne approaches this discourse from the perspective of unpaid versus paid media, earned versus purchased, credible versus skeptical media. Public relations tastes great, advertising is less filling.
There’s an old saying: “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”
Advertising is paid media, public relations is earned media. This means you convince reporters or editors to write a positive story about you or your client, your candidate, brand or issue. It appears in the editorial section of the magazine, newspaper, TV station or website, rather than the “paid media” section where advertising messages appear. So your story has more credibility because it was independently verified by a trusted third party, rather than purchased.
Another huge difference is price. PR firms charge monthly retainers or can be hired for specific projects. Advertising can be very pricey.
A former client purchased one full-page ad in a weekly magazine that cost him $125,000. He expected a wave of phone calls, viral media and multiple conversations about the ad. He got zero. In contrast, getting quoted in the New York Times, Forbes and Reuters resulted in national speaking invitations, calls from new and existing clients, and solid credibility. Not everyone can afford $125,000, but advertising can be expensive when you figure the cost of the space or time plus the creative designs and production costs. And most advertisements need to be repeated several times before the consumer can be influenced.
Because it’s in their best interest to sell you more ads, advertising folks tell clients what you WANT to hear. “Baby you’re the best! You just need to pay for a few months more for billboards and TV spots!” Because PR people deal with crises, image enhancement and creation of long-term relationships where your story often must be accepted by others (the media) before you obtain recognition, PR people tell you what you NEED to hear.
First published in Forbes
So Wynne’s presentation provides an insight on basic difference between public relations and advertising, especially from the media perspective. This is what every PR and Advert practitioner should know in order to effectively navigate the media landscape to the advantage of your establishment or client.