PR Versus Advertising

There is a lot of confusion out there between PR and advertising.

Are they similar? Absolutely. And the fact that firms like Walker Sands handle both PR and advertising services for businesses interested in improving revenue through increased visibility makes the line between the two even more blurry.

But in reality, PR and advertising are completely different disciplines. The distinction is more than an academic exercise. Differences between PR and advertising have strategic consequences and can shape the tone of your company's entire marketing plan. Sometimes an advertising campaign is the right solution while other situations call for a more subtle, PR approach.

  • Telling vs. selling. PR tells stories; advertising sells products. Sounds simple, right? But sometimes ads cross over into brand storylines and PR pieces tout the features of new products. The difference is that ads unashamedly attempt to sell a specific product or service while PR focuses on giving the audience useful information.
  • Third-party vs. direct messaging. Effective PR recruits third parties to tell your brand's story. Since advertisements are direct messages between you and your customers, the credibility of your ad content is often suspect. Objective, third-party PR messaging carries more weight because media outlets have a vented interest in reporting the truth about your company and products.
  • Newsworthy vs. eye-catching. The advertising industry is all about creating eye-catching pieces that grab the reader's attention and quickly communicate key points. Public relations, on the other hand, is about generating newsworthy story ideas that can be picked up by media outlets and distributed through print, broadcast and online information channels.
  • Low control vs. absolute control. In advertising, your business has absolute control over messaging -- you are assured that your ad will appear exactly the way you submitted it. But in PR, you yield a large portion of that control to media outlets. Although you can pitch a story concept, the final version of your piece is in the hands of reporters and journalists. The good news is that you can mitigate the risk to your company by using a reputable PR firm that maintains good working relationships with the media.

Walker Sands is a premiere Chicago PR firm with a reputation for providing some of the best PR and advertising campaigns in the business. Contact us today and let our team help you decide whether a PR or advertising is the right choice for achieving your company's promotional objectives.

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