Know the difference between PR & Advertising

If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spend it on PR!” – Bill Gates

The above quote by the great American business magnate tells us the importance of PR in today’s challenging business scenario. But, somehow, we all seem to ask: how different is PR from advertising?

As soon as we put our mind to fathom out the differences between PR and advertising, we are instantly reminded of the excellent book ‘The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR’ by Al Ries and Laura Ries.  The theses in the book created ripples in the corporate world by beautifully explaining that while PR is needed to launch a brand and establish its identity, the key role of advertising is only to maintain an existing brand’s position. The reason is that advertising, by itself, has no credibility so its purpose is limited only to remind the audience of what they already believe. 

The authors cited multiple examples where very expensive and even award-winning advertising campaigns could not turn around declining sales and market share.  Yet another theme explained in this book is the success that brands received when they went for expansion, riding on the realms of a consolidated PR strategy. After all, any new brand is a PR opportunity! While advertising has its own glory under the sun and highlights the products of the brand, it certainly lacks the definite filtered voice and emotions that are associated with a strong PR campaign.

Even today, a lot of businesses are unfortunately still foggy about the difference in boundaries between advertising and Public Relations. Let us try to highlight some of the pertinent points of distinction between the two.

  • Credibility 

A paid advertisement allows you to “control” the message you are sharing with your target audience. Although it is still an effective medium, the end-consumers will always end up believing the messaging is biased and represents only the concerned company’s point-of-view.

In PR, the brand story or news is disseminated to the appropriate media who will verify and substantiate the information on the basis of its newsworthiness. So the final story that will reach the discerning audience will be far more credible for them lap up to believe and relate to. 

  • Longevity

Any advertisement has a limited shelf life. It runs the risk of slipping out of the audience’s minds, unless it is “hammered” and reinforced continuously.

Any campaign in PR is of a longer duration and generally denotes a long-term effect. An effective PR agency will employ its creativity and media pitching ingenuity efficiently and diligently for the benefit of its clients.  The agency has the option to space it out while playing out its entire publicity strategies, re-strategize on the original campaign based on its response and even spread its wings to other related marketing strategies.

  • Paid versus earned

A basic difference, obviously, lies in the fact that while advertising space is paid for, public relations results are “earned” through market understanding, excellent rapport with journalists and providing the media with information in the form of Press Releases and pitches.

  • Wider target audience

Advertisements are usually targeted at potential customers. But PR casts its net on a much wider canvas: it can be both internal and external. Employees, investors, customers, the media and even influencers like celebrities or politicians, who have a large following on social media, fall under the gamut of PR.

  • Strategy

Advertisements are generally strategized to pushing a new product or promoting special deals to boost sales.  PR is all about building brand awareness and reputation. An efficient PR agency always looks at the “bigger picture” vis-à-vis the brand, deliver meaningful information to build a sustainable and dedicated base of consumers and other stakeholders.

We are there for you

Having built its reputation as a top PR agency for over 15 years, Communications 2.0 has been instrumental in charting exponential growth curves for many brands. The PR plans executed by this cohesive and dedicated outfit are realistic, goal-driven and focused on achieving maximum visibility for all its clients. We stand for what PR does best: influence perceptions, disseminate your news, educate your stakeholders, connect with your customers, protect your brand, train your team and even win you some new clients!

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