The Differences Between Marketing, PR, And Advertising

It is quite simple to be confused about the different terms when it comes to public promotion. After all, there are one too many of them, and the lines sometimes get a bit blurry in between. But, every function adds a specific benefit to your organization. The key is to make it work together in sync. 

In this article, we’ll see how public relations firms Chicago differentiate between PR, marketing and advertising. 

What is PR?

The formal definition of PR is about inducing the public to have an understanding and goodwill for a firm, institution or person. 

If that’s too vague for you, let’s rename public relations as reputation management. Any and all efforts made to shape a brand image that help push the enterprise objectives ahead are part of PR. The concept essentially fosters a positive name for a particular business via a series of announcements. It could either be a press release, a community-focused program or even an expansion. 

To understand the implications of PR, you need to distribute it into two categories – the campaign and the results. 

PR Campaign

The PR campaign is the messaging you send out there in line with a commitment or offering that builds brand trust. For instance, if a company made a decision to ensure that at least 50% of their people would be women, a PR agency would reach out to all the reporters and publications to build thought leadership around this announcement. 

PR Results

The results can be classified as the different channels of media coverage that you shall receive. To give you an example:

  • An interview of the CEO in a journal or magazine
  • A newspaper feature about the company commitment
  • Quotes from board members in different blogs
  • A photojournalism story on the brand

It is necessary to remember that PR is indeed earned and not paid for. You don’t get to decide what, where and who speaks about your brand. Therefore, a lot of effort goes into damage control and brand building. But, there is a pro to it. 

With the flurry of promotional content that flies across digital media now, the audience has been rewired to trust news coming only from credible sources. This is where PR really makes a mark for your company. 

What is Marketing?

The road between the producer and the consumer is paved by marketing. It is the building block of how a brand is perceived and what it offers to the audience. In summary, the whole concept extends over and above the traditional definitions of promotion, advertising and PR. Therefore, when thinking of marketing, it is best to look at it as a puzzle that brings the whole process together. 

Seven tangible marketing strategies can be found at the core of every brand: 

1. Content Marketing

All your media, including guest posts, articles, blogs, videos, podcasts and whitepapers, fall under content. 

2. Social Media Marketing

A consistent presence over one or more social channels is the call of the times. It acts as a backdoor entry into what and how your audience is thinking. 

3. Email Marketing

Brand recognition, recall and reiteration happen here. Staying in touch with your contacts keep you on top of their minds. 

4. PR

Yes, public relations are also a part of marketing. Since it is about communicating with your audience, it forms an indispensable slice of the marketing mix. 

5. Influencer Marketing

Digital channels have given rise to an army of content creators who have a defined audience that trust them. Influencer marketing is about tapping on this implicit reputation to push your product to a specific market. 

6. Video Marketing

Social videos, including YouTube, Instagram reels, TikTok, etc., are how people now consume bite-sized content. Organizations are leveraging these trends to put their best foot forward. 

7. Experiential or Events Marketing

In-brand activations, sponsorships, product demos and virtual panels are what make up this section of marketing for most companies. 

In the end, marketing is about generating additional value for your products and services. It essentially increases your chances of sales and triggers purchase decisions at crucial brand touchpoints. 

What is Advertising?

The action of bringing the public’s attention towards a specific brand or person via paid announcements is known as advertising. It is a marketing strategy that involves paying for a space that promotes your product, service or company. Popularly known as “ads”, they refer to promotional messages across the media channels. 

Everything right from TV commercials to Pay-Per-Click campaigns to print media is covered by advertising. Even today, it works as one of the best lead generation and brand outreach practices in the marketing mix.

Here is what sets Advertising apart:

  • Focused only on drawing the attention of the audience through message and image placement
  • Falls under the ambit of marketing efforts
  • Form of paid media – brands have to pay to make a name for themselves
  • The target audience is dominantly buyers who are directly approached
  • It can be measured comprehensively

But, as we mentioned earlier, advertising alone cannot cut all corners. The audience has enough information at their fingertips to understand what works for them and what doesn’t. Therefore, ads have evolved to demonstrating real value in collaboration with other marketing assets like blogs, videos, and social media.  

Final Thoughts

Public relations, advertising and marketing all are core aspects of building a brand while ensuring the success of your product and company. The key differences lie in how each vertical is approached and the kind of expenses it entails. 

When perplexed which one to go for, ask yourself this – what would you like to achieve? 

Immediate sales calls for advertising; image building is where PR takes the forefront, and brand development is the cumulative result of effective marketing.

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