What is The Difference Between PR and Advertising?

Public relations (PR) and advertising are two closely related fields that often overlap and work together, but they have some important differences that set them apart.

At a high level, PR is focused on managing the reputation and perception of a company or individual, while advertising is focused on promoting a product or service to potential customers.


One key difference between PR and advertising is the audience they are targeting. PR is primarily concerned with building relationships with key stakeholders, such as the media, customers, employees, and investors.

This involves developing and maintaining a positive image for the company or individual, and often involves managing crises or negative events that could damage their reputation. In contrast, advertising is focused on reaching a larger audience of potential customers and promoting the sale of a product or service.


Another difference between PR and advertising is the type of message being communicated. PR is typically more concerned with telling a story or creating a narrative around a company or individual. This might involve highlighting the company’s values, philanthropic efforts, or other elements that contribute to its reputation. Advertising, on the other hand, is more focused on promoting the features and benefits of a product or service, and often uses persuasive language and slogans to encourage people to buy.



PR and advertising also differ in terms of the channels they use to communicate with their audience. PR often relies on earned media, which refers to coverage that is not paid for, such as articles in newspapers or appearances on TV or radio.

Advertising, on the other hand, typically involves paid media, such as TV commercials, print ads, and online ads. PR can also use owned media, which refers to channels that the company or individual controls, such as their own website or social media accounts.

One of the main advantages of PR is that it can be seen as more credible and trustworthy than advertising, since it is not directly tied to a sales pitch. This is especially true when PR is able to secure positive coverage in reputable media outlets.

Advertising, on the other hand, is often viewed with skepticism, since people may assume that the company is simply trying to sell them something.


Another key difference between PR and advertising is the level of control they have over the message. PR is often at the mercy of the media, which has the power to shape and influence the way a story is told. Advertising, on the other hand, gives the company or individual more control over the message and how it is presented.

Despite these differences, PR and advertising can be used together effectively to create a cohesive marketing strategy. PR can help build trust and credibility for a company or product, while advertising can be used to promote specific offers or campaigns. When combined, these two approaches can be very powerful in driving awareness and sales for a business.