Simply put, advertising is media that is paid for while public relations media is earned. This means that when it comes to PR, you have to convince reporters and/or editors to write a positive story about your client. It then appears in the editorial section of the magazine, newspaper, TV station or website, while advertising appears in the “paid media” section. Therefore, the story generated through PR has more credibility because it was independently verified by a trusted third party, rather than purchased.
With advertising, you tell people how great you are. With publicity, others sing your praises. Furthermore, while advertising reflects senior management’s view on what a consumer or business-to-business buyer should think is important, PR, on the other hand, depends on understanding the who, what, when, where, why and how of engaging in the discussion. Those that work in public relations often excel in storytelling and present a perceived problem along with their client’s unique solution (the product or service they provide).
Another huge difference between the two methods is the price. Advertising can be expensive when you figure the cost of the space or time along with the creative designs and production costs. In addition, most advertisements need to be repeated several times before the consumer is influenced.
However, with advertising you have full control, while with PR, you have no control over how the media presents your information, or if they decide to use it at all. The media is not obligated to cover your event or publish your press release just because you sent it to them. Furthermore, an ad can run for as long as you are willing to pay. You can only submit a press release once and the exposure, if any, is only circulated once. The same press release will not run three or four times in the same magazine, newspaper, or blog.
Most people know that when they are reading an advertisement, a product or service is trying to be sold to them. However, when someone reads a third-party article written about your product or views coverage of your event on TV, they see something not paid for and, therefore, view it differently than they do paid advertising.
Advertising executives show their creativity by creating ads for their clients. Those that work at a PR firm searching for new news to release to the media and being able to generate buzz. One way to do this in advertising is to gear the advertising toward your target audience. On the other hand, PR execs must have a hook and an angle that gets editors to use the information you send them for an article or to cover your event.
When it comes to writing styles, advertising uses buzz words to motivate people to buy or use your product or service. When it comes to public relations, writing should be done strictly in a no-nonsense news format. Any blatant commercial messages in will cause your information to be disregarded by the media.