A question you will very often hear when interviewing for a position in PR: do you understand the differences between advertising and PR?
This is particularly important for PR practitioners to understand as it is a fundamental part of explaining and reporting our services to clients, managing expectations, and setting achievable KPIs.
The main measurable difference between the two is that PR results are earned through providing information to journalists, while advertising is about gaining paid for advertorial coverage.
PR and advertising have the ability to work magically together for businesses when used as part of a wider strategic plan, but should not be seen as the same practices due to their many differences.
Goals and objectives
The aim of PR campaigns is to build brand reputation and coverage. This is created through a series of creative campaigns, press releases and product reach outs which position the brand as industry leaders and build trust from the consumer. Digital PR campaigns do all of this too but with the added goal of winning high authority backlinks to boost SEO.
Advertising campaigns are specifically produced and placed to gain direct sales for the company. The key focus of the campaigns is very often to generate sales traffic to a specific new product and are not focussed on building reputation or brand awareness.
PR professionals work to the bigger picture and have long term goals in mind. A huge advantage in PR is that we are able to produce a press release for a client and pitch it to a large number of different publications through media relations. The journalists that we pitch the release to will then use the information in different ways with links to the client’s site. This allows for audience members to see repetition of the brand name, reinforcing any brand values and messages within the piece.
Advertising often works with much more short term goals. Ad copy is usually seasonal and reliant on times when purchasing is at a high. In terms of repetition, advertisements can be used as many times as the budget allows for but will only be shown in places where coverage has been bought.
Paid vs free
PR agencies work to develop strategies across topical and newsworthy press releases, content marketing, social media and trade publications. This level of outreach is achieved through pitching to a wide range of media contacts, working to build up brand’s online coverage and reach new audiences. These are ‘earned’ media placements rather than being paid for.
Advertising is paid for by the brand for specific placements
Both are legitimate and achievable means of gaining coverage. Of course, we strongly believe that PR is the most effective way for brands to reach new audiences and gain coverage! If you want to find out more about how we can help your business, get in touch.