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Everyone knows the term PR and everyone know the term advertising, but there is often confusion on where one starts and one ends. There are a couple of clear distinctions when it comes to PR verses advertising but it’s true, the two do often overlap.
Advertising is most often paid for, in that you pay for an advert in a paper or on TV, or you pay for a stand at an exhibition and so on. PR is theoretically ‘free’, but in truth you would likely need a PR professional or agency who would charge a monthly retainer or fee.
If you pay for advertising, then that advertising goes ahead as long as you pay the invoice. With PR, you’re putting the message out there but there is no guarantee that media will pick it up. How well it works is dependant on how strong your message is, where it’s communicated to, what else is going on and how your story ties in to everything else in the world. It can even depend on whether or not an editor or writer’s personal ideals, values and preferences.
Everyone knows what an advert is – it’s someone trying to sell you something. PR is marketing messages tied up in news, whether that’s a product release, a new appointment, an ethical stance, a campaign or a new partnership. It is often only those that are in marketing or business, or have an idea of PR, that can tell that what is ‘news’ is actually marketing messages cleverly distributed.
With PR, there’s no ‘news’ that is completely visual whereas in advertising there are often adverts where all there is are visuals with very little text. Language skills and experience is much more important when it comes to PR. Design is much more important when it comes to advertising. Having said that, there are more elements of design creeping in to PR in the form of infographics and video.
If you’re happy for as many people as possible to see your message and that exposure is what you’re hoping to achieve then advertising is a strong bet, as it is guaranteed exposure in the place you want to put it. If you are looking to establish trust with the general public, as maybe a more complex or established business, then PR is something to consider.
In reality, it is a mix of both advertising and PR that will get you the most sustained results. If you’re looking for some information on how advertising and PR can help build awareness and belief in your business, get in touch.