PR or Advertising?

I’ve touched upon the basics of PR before, but what separates PR from advertising?  Many feel the two are often interrelated, which is a point that cannot be argued, seeing as they draw on similar information in hopes to reel in clients and target an audience.  In fact, the two are often used together to complement each other.  The difference between the two is the way in which each goes about approaching its audience and the credibility each carries.  Here are a few basic differences to help create a clearer picture between these two methods for connecting with your publics.

First off, PR is less expensive than advertising.  One of the reasons is due to the fact that when creating an advertising campaign, the client has the opportunity to choose, and maintain complete control over, the exact message. With PR, the client leaves the message in the hands of the reporter, who has a bit of leeway to shape the message or define it as he or she sees fit.  However, a news release has more credibility than a perfectly manicured advertisement.  Most audiences view news stories as trusted third-party endorsements – an objective viewpoint of a company, service or product from outside of the company.  After a news release appears in a column in the paper, an online news site or a trade publication, it is usually stored away in the internet, available for people to find through web searches for weeks, months or even years afterward.

When a company website features links to published news releases, it further validates the reputation of the company and it is good way to build trust.  Aside from scoring free press in print or online publications, properly researched and targeted PR also gets right to the reader.  It cuts through the clutter. Rather than being surrounded by other ads, which we have the power to avoid now through ad blocker, TiVo or DVR, it’s right at the readers’ fingertips. Finally, since PR is less costly than advertising, it is a great option for start-up companies to get their feet wet and develop a reputation.

There are benefits to both methods.  Advertising might be more costly; however, you know pretty much when, where and how your message will be delivered.    Once a business has built up a small fan base and a solid clientele, then advertising can be an added layer to reinforce PR efforts.

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