How to differentiate?

We as public are rarely aware of the difference between Public Relations and Advertising. But in a corporate world these two terms are totally different and have a very opposite meaning associated with each other. So, let’s figure out what these two basic marketing strategies termed as public relation and advertising are actually.

Compare and contrast:

Parameters of ComparisonPublic RelationsAdvertising
DefinitionPublic Relations involves building and maintaining a stable and mutual relationship with the customer through strategic communication.  Advertising is actually bringing out your products and services in front of the public by means of paid announcements.
TargetPublic Relations consists of two types i.e. internal and external. Where they not only target their potential customers but also includes employees, stakeholders, media, press, legislatures and many more.Advertising campaigns primarily target their potential customers.
CommunicationIt is a two-way form of communication as in public relation the press secretary i.e. Public Relations Specialists are appointed so as to look after and consider public’s feedback and opinion because it matters to build a trustworthy relation between both.It is referred to as a one-way form of communication. As in advertising you are just selling and promoting your products rather than listening or considering their suggestions.
ObjectivesPublic relation helps to build and maintain a good image of your brand and the company. It is practiced basically to gain and sustain consumer’s trust and credibility.Advertising includes making the consumers aware about your brand and its products so that they can consider paying for them. It only focuses on promoting the products rather than building their reputation.
StrategyPublic Relations views the picture from a bigger frame as they deliver meaningful information to their ultimate customers in order to gain a more dedicated and reliable consumer base.With an advertisement there is a short-term goal in mind. It is geared towards a specific occasion of season (for example: sale during summer, Diwali sale, etc.)
Content controlPublic Relations is considered an external source of marketing strategy as the organisations have less control over the content. For example, once your content has been transferred to a press media, you have lost all your control over that piece of content and now it is all in the hands of the press media. They can alter your content and sometimes may not even telecast them.I’m advertising you have all the control in your own hands as it is an internal form of marketing strategy. You have total control over your content including where, how, what and when to show them in the media.
CredibilityPublic Relation believes in transparency and hence communicates their messages and information through a more trusted third party such as the media, press, etc.Nowadays consumers do not blindly trust an advertisement. If the brands are getting smarter, the consumers are getting way smarter. They know that the people advertising are paid for speaking and boasting. Nobody’s going to say that their product breaks in a month or two.
Publishing periodPublic Relation can be published only once.An advertisement can be published and keep on publishing as long as you want them to.
Cost differencePublic Relation being an owned media doesn’t need to spend even a penny in order to promote their products and brands.Advertising is a form of paid media and hence has to spend a certain amount of money time to time to build awareness among the public about their brands and business.

Similarities between the two :

Although public relations and advertising contrast each other in many various ways. There are still some basis which makes them quite similar to each other.

1. Both public relations and advertising have a target to promote and mobilise their brands and companies.

2. Another similarity is that the companies target their messages towards a specially decided audience in the market.

Conclusion :

In conclusion, I think that both public relations and advertising play a major role in helping build a brand, brand image, promote the business and communicate with the target audience. But, the main difference between both is that public relations is owned by the media and is hence earned through providing information and messages in the form of press and media releases. Whereas advertising contrasts it by being the paid media where the companies and brands pay certain sources to get featured for promoting their products.


Twenty7 Inc. is a creative communication PR Agency with 360-degree solutions for integrated brand building of the business/ clients. Deciphering the clients and their target audience, we devise customized innovative strategies that best suit the requirements of their business and fetches the desired result of establishing them as ingenious thought leaders in the sector. We at Twent7 Inc. have a very practical disposition and staunchly believe in adapting to the changing scenario of the market. Likewise, the narrative of the storytelling/ message is shaped to deliver exclusive results that stay relevant to the brand and also their audience.

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