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Advertising vs Public Relations: Differences Between Advertising & Public Relations

Last updated:
11th Feb, 2021
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Advertising vs Public Relations: Differences Between Advertising & Public Relations

A company’s success depends greatly on the information they send out about their products. Further,  the mode of doing so plays a huge role in the impact it creates on the audience’s mind. 

There are a variety of ways to publicize your products, but the two most reliable and preferred are Advertising and Public Relations. Choosing one from between the two usually puts businesses in a bind. That’s exactly what we are here to help you with. If you are a beginner in digital marketing marketing, and want to gain expertise, check out our digital marketing certifications from top universities. 

Let’s look at the definitions of Advertising and Public Relations before we dive into the distinctions between them to determine which is the right for you. 


Advertising refers to a blend of practices and techniques that are employed to bring to the notice of people a company’s products, opinions, services, or causes so that they consider buying or subscribing to whatever is being advertised. It is a huge subdivision of media, and can either be in printed or digital form. 

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Here are the reasons why advertising exists:

  • Businesses want to create an awareness of their products and services.
  • They wish to convince them that their products and services are the right choices for them.
  • They hope to increase the demand for their products and services.
  • It is a powerful tool to announce the launch of new products and services.
  • It helps them enhance the image of brands and promotes brand loyalty.

Public Relations

As a tactical process of communication, PR is focused on building a profitable relationship between consumers and the business. Public Relations is a powerful weapon for an organization as it helps a business to form a direct connection with the public. Naturally, this field of work is currently booming. 

Here’s taking a look at the objectives of Public Relations:

  • To positively present the information related to the organization
  • To research in-depth market research on a company.
  • To create a favourable image for a company in the media.
  • To create a bridge of communication between the organization and its target audience.
  • To take appropriate measures for crisis management by responding to negative remarks online.
  • To influence appropriate judicial and regulatory practices by lobbying.
  • To counsel an organization on a variety of issues in the public domain and foster favourable relations with the public.

Checkout: How to become a PR freelancer in India?

Underlying Differences Between Advertising and Public Relations

Advertising and public relations differ in a variety of ways. This includes:

1. How you Interact with the Target Audience?

One of the main differences between advertising and Public Relations is how they approach the target audience. In advertising, interaction with the target audience happens on advertising platforms like print and digital media.

With Public Relations, it may be through something as small as a tweet or by using a sophisticated company newsletter.

2. What are the Criteria For Payment?

For every advertisement, there is a hefty fee charged. And this amount increases each time an ad is repeated in the media. Combine it with creative, production, and space costs, advertising becomes even more expensive.

A PR agency, on the other hand, doesn’t charge you per strategy. Their job is to formulate these strategies and help you gain publicity. Of course, you will have to pay your Public Relations team, but it will be in the form of a salary or a monthly retainer. 

3. Who Holds the Power to Manipulate The Message?

In advertising, you are the master of the message. You have creative control over what your ad will say, where it will be advertised, and how many times it will be repeated. It gives businesses the freedom to monitor how their products will be perceived by the public. 

When it comes to Public Relations, you have little to no control over the media coverage of your organization. However, your Public Relations team can support you through a media interview and create multiple opportunities for you. This is a great plus point as compared to the loss of control over the message.

4. How Different the Campaigns Are?

It depends greatly on your budget whether the duration of coverage of your advertising is long or short. As we mentioned earlier, advertising is expensive. If you have enough money to pay for your advertisement to be played several times in the media, you can benefit from it greatly. 

Furthermore, ad campaigns target specific time periods when the products are most likely to attract traffic. Businesses can run advertisements during holidays or wedding seasons to maximize their effectiveness and reduce costs. 

Public Relations agencies send out stories of their clients to a diverse range of journalists, who in turn publish their opinions on the story in their respective ways. This allows the target audience of the organization to digest a variety of perspectives and form one of their own. PR promotes far more sustainability with the way it operates than advertising does. 

5. How Credible The Campaigns Are 

One of the main shortcomings of advertising is that the target audience of the business knows that an ad has been paid for. This decreases the credibility of advertising on the whole and promotes scepticism amongst the public. 

Public Relations has a relative edge when it comes to a campaign’s believability. Because they send out stories about their client’s organization to journalists, there are a variety of angles presented in front of the public. Also, since it is up to the journalists what they make of the stories and how they represent them, their takes on a particular subject are, more often than not, unbiased.

This influences the target audience to view these stories from different perspectives and form an opinion about a particular organization. This doesn’t just enhance the credibility of PR but also helps companies deal with crises and profit from long-term relationships with the audience. 

Also Read: Marketing vs Advertising 


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Advertising and Public Relations are both wonderful tools. Advertising might require you to shell out a little extra and Public Relations will cause you to lose control to an extent. However, it is the message you need to send across that will help you decide which among Advertising and Public Relations would benefit your organization better. 

We hope this helps!

If you are curious to get into the world of digital marketing, check out upGrad & MICA’s Advanced Certificate in Digital Marketing & Communication.

Siddhant Khanvilkar is an experienced Content Marketer with a high degree of expertise in SEO and Web Analytics. Siddhant has a Degree in Mass Media with a Specialization in Advertising.
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