What is the Difference Between PR and Advertising

I had a meeting recently with a fairly savvy entrepreneur on ‘how to do PR’ and during the conversation I realized that they had no idea what PR was all about.

You cannot ‘buy’ PR in a newspaper or magazine. You cannot have the reporter say exactly what you want them to say. That is advertising. Both PR and advertising are important in the marketing of your business, depending on what stage your business is at.

The difference between PR and advertising is that PR builds awareness of your product or service which is critical for startups and entrepreneurs, and advertising supports the brand when it gets known.

With PR you get:

• Free Placement
• Less, or no control- a journalist can write what they want no matter how you position your story
• A story that runs only once or twice (exceptions are when a newswire picks up the story)
• Credibility because it’s viewed as a third-party endorsement
• No guarantees and it can be time-consuming

With Advertising you get:

• Paid Placement
• Complete creative control
• Your ads will run as often as you’re willing to pay
• Savvy consumers know it’s an ad, and tend to be skeptical
• A guaranteed date the ad will run and it’s easy if you have money to spend

PR builds credibility, Advertising builds visibility. What’s cool about getting PR is because it’s written by a journalist, there’s instant credibility and other people become more interested. If you’re a small business, it can turn you from a nobody into a somebody who can compete against a bigger business.

For a small business owners, entrepreneurs or moms just starting out, just know that a thousand dollars is not a very big ad budget – it might afford you a small ad in your local newspapers or magazines for example. But the same money spent on PR if you get hits in several newspapers or magazines, can mean the equivalent of 5 to 10 times the advertising cost in those publications.

PR can be time-consuming and with no guarantees, but well worth the effort. If you’ve been successful with your PR, please share with us what you did and what it’s brought to your business.