top of page

Advertising vs. Public Relations: What’s the Difference?

It’s a common misconception amongst business professionals that advertising and public relations are the same thing… and that you only need one of these to be successful. And while our staff could argue the Advertising v. Public Relations debate for days (one with an eye-catching visual and the other with perfect AP style), when it comes down to it our teams work hand in hand to produce the best strategy, content and results for our clients.

Here are 4 differences between advertising and public relations and why you really (and we mean REALLY) need both to successfully market your business.

Paid v. Unpaid Attention

Advertising is the paid media attention your company gains through purchasing media spots on radio and television stations or space on billboards and magazine pages. Advertisements involve a creatively crafted message and a heavy emphasis on compelling visuals to persuade your target audience to buy your product or use your services.

Public Relations, on the other hand, involves unpaid media attention through pitching stories to media outlets. Public relations professionals write concise press releases or hold press conferences to relay imperative information about what’s going on with your company to gain you free media attention… (and who doesn’t love free?!)

Type of Messaging

Advertising usually focuses on selling your audience a specific product or service. For example, if a movie theater was running a special discount on tickets for the month of October, they would place advertisements to promote more people to take advantage of their special offer.

In public relations, the focus is on promoting the entire business or organization. When a company has a change in leadership, gains an influential new partnership or wants media attention for all the good things they do day to day, they’ll employ public relations professionals to pitch information about the company to the media or plan public events to gain attention.

Control v. Uncontrolled

In advertising, your company is paying for the space or timeslot to display your message, therefor, you can control it. Graphic designers and strategists work together to craft a message that will grab the audience’s attention unique to the medium the message will be displayed on.

In the field of public relations, your message is sent out into the world, in hope that it will be picked up. Public relations professionals craft precise messaging and send it to media outlets who are free to present the information as they please… or not at all.

Writing Style

In advertising, all rules are off! Sometimes advertising professionals break grammar rules or even create new words, all for the sake of a captivating advertisement. There are no limits to the creativity of advertising, as long as your audience is intrigued and interested.

Public Relations professionals place a heavy emphasis on perfecting their Associated Press writing style. This is a strict list of rules and guidelines to be followed for things like abbreviations, punctuation and grammar. Public relations writing is always short, sweet and to the point to keep information concise and newsworthy.

There’s an old saying in our world, “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.” We’re proud to offer our clients both advertising and public relations, along with many other services, from a team of skilled professionals passionate about what they do.

#advertising #advertisingagency #publicrelations #difference #pr #promotion #misconception #paidmedia #messaging #writing #copywriting #media

Welcome to Octagon.

Who we are.

Our passion.  

What we do.  

Read all about it.

Get in touch.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Yelp
Octagon Media Logo
bottom of page