When promoting products and services offered by a company advertising and public relations play two main roles. Advertising implies a form of communication, that a firm uses to bring about awaited customers to select the product offered by the company over other products.  

Public relations, on the other hand, focuses on establishing and sustaining positive relationships with a company’s stakeholders through positive publicity, a solid reputation, and other means.

Profit maximization is the primary motive of any business. Increasing sales is the way to achieve it. To draw customer attention toward their products firms apply many strategies, tactics, plans, and tools. The main intention of it is to grab a competitive position in the market. It comes under the promotion mix. Advertising, direct selling, sales promotion, and public relations are under the promotion mix. 

It is hard to realize the difference between public relations and advertising as both contain similar traits in them.  There is an old saying, ‘advertising pays, public relation persuades.’

Public Relations explanation

Intending to cultivate favorable relations for the company, public relations use different channels. It is a strategic communication tool. It builds a positive image or reputation of the company to the public perception. It tells or displays the company’s products or services in the kind of featured stories or articles through print or broadcast media. It focuses on a trust-based relationship between the brand and the customer, mostly by way of media exposure and publicity.   

Public relations can be considered as unpaid publicity that a business acquires through word of mouth, goodwill, and other means. The strategies used in public relations are publicity, press releases, social media, press conferences, crisis management, interviews, featured stories, news releases, and speeches.

Advertising Explanation

Public Relations

Advertising draws public attention towards a product, service, company, or any other thing. It is a paid, non-personal, one-way public communication. It uses various communication channels. Print ads, radio or television ads, billboards, commercials, flyers, internet banner ads, and direct mail, are among the various communication methods. The advertiser decides what, how, and when the ad will be published or aired. Not only that, the ad will run as long as the budget is allowed by the advertiser. 

No matter whether people are aware of advertising, it is always present as it is a prominent marketing tool. There is no single medium to spread the message to the target audience. 


Let’s compare Public relations and advertising. 

Let’s move to the top seven differences between advertising and PR

Paid vs. Free

In Public Relations your PR agency develops tactics for you to achieve publicity in the media. PR professionals build up a range of tactics to attract positive media attention to your brand. It is very effective at increasing your target audience’s brand awareness. 

You have to pay for an advertisement to be placed in the media. 

Control of message. 

In public Relations, you have less control over your coverage in media. Once a story idea is sent by you to the journalist, they have control over it. They have the authority to change your story idea or not even publish it at all. Media training should be offered by your PR agency. So you’ll be aware of how to control an interview and take full advantage of any media opportunities they create for you. 

In advertising, you have the opportunity to control the content of the advertisement.  And also where and when the advertisement will be seen in the media.      

 Duration of coverage

The story idea can be sent to several journalists in Public Relations. They will publish the story in different ways. This made your news available in many mediums in different ways and catch the attention of the target audience.

You can put up advertisements in the media as many times as you pay.  


Information and newsworthy stories are provided by Public Relations to a journalist. Articles on your product or business can be written by them. The article will be viewed by your target audience with more credibility if the article is written and presented in an unbiased manner by the journalist and contains the third-party endorsement of the journalist. The target audience may go through the article with more credibility than an advertisement as it is not selling something directly. As Public Relation shapes public opinion, it is a powerful tool. 

 The target audience knows that advertisements are made to sell something and they are made by the companies. So they have less credibility than the coverage gained by Public Relations. 

Target audience  

Public Relations and advertising both want to pass a message to the target audience of their clients. But they use different mediums and different message types.   

A variety of channels are used to communicate the message to the target audience in Public Relations. Using the channel that your target audience frequently use is the optimum way to reach the target audience. This may be an article in a company newsletter, an email to specific people, a tweet, 

In advertising, your company can pay for an advertisement and it can be placed directly in the media where your target audience is interested. It may be TV, drive time radio, or a magazine.  


Communication channels are used in both public relations and advertising to influence and inform the general public. Public relations is free of cost. It needs the endorsement of the third party and validation. Advertising is a marketing tool that is highly expensive and can reach a large audience at the same time.  

To decide the best path to your message, you need to consider the differences between public relations and advertising.  Based on the type of message you want to communicate, the communication medium differs.  

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