Show Notes

Air Date: 11/22/2022

The Difference Between PR And Advertising, And Where the Lines Are Fading

Both advertising and public relations (PR) help build awareness and generate sales. But they’re not the same thing.

Essentially, advertising is paid media, and PR is earned media. Advertisers purchase space online, in print or on the airwaves. They decide what the ad will say, how it will look, where it will appear and how many times it will appear. They control the message.

PR professionals, on the other hand, provide journalists with story ideas delivered through press releases or a media pitch, which is usually a brief email offering a news story to a specific reporter. If — and that is a big if — the journalist is interested in the story idea, they will develop content around it. But there are no guarantees that the coverage will say exactly what you want it to say or even that the coverage will be positive. That is another key difference between PR and advertising. In PR, you cannot control the message.

So why, you might ask, would you not just advertise? Many people are skeptical of advertising messages. They’re exposed to dozens, if not hundreds, of advertisements daily on television, radio, online and in the print news. They’re exposed to so many, in fact, that many of them have been desensitized, and it can be hard for any one message to sink in unless it’s really compelling. Also, because the message is coming directly from the advertiser, it’s often viewed as less credible.

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The article read in this episode originally appeared on the Forbes Agency Council CommunityVoice™ in April 2019.


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