Ever wonder what is the difference between advertising and public relations?

Public relations and advertising are often complementary, but are not interchangeable services as they offer very different outcomes. Advertising and public relations are two different tactics one can use to get their message out, and each has it’s own benefits and drawbacks.

In theory, an advertising campaign can bluntly deliver whatever message the purchaser seeks to deliver to a targeted audience, a guaranteed number of times over a specific period of time. With public relations, that is not the case.

The effectiveness of a message and it’s ability to influence a target group is always a critical part of determining what message to deliver and, perhaps more importantly, how best to do it.

Remembering that the key ingredient of any successful effort to influence the perceptions of others is trust, someone seeking to get their message out needs to ask themselves where the trust lies in a newspaper, on the radio, TV or online?

Is the target audience more likely to trust someone who is buying and designing advertising designed to promote themselves? Or is the target audience more likely to trust the media outlets they subscribe to or follow to provide them with accurate information regarding topics of interest?

My personal bias is that media coverage as part of a sustained media outreach effort will have a far better impact for virtually any potential client than what can be achieved with advertising alone.

The key for public relations professionals and people seeking to have their message picked up is to ensure their story is newsworthy and that the media outlets they are reaching out to can easily see the public interest in telling that story.

While I’ve never been encouraged by a journalist I’ve spoken to on behalf of a client to consider advertising to get that client’s message out, folks in the PR industry who have experienced this, do not need to worry themselves about the future of the PR industry, but instead focus on working with their clients to ensure that items they share with members of the media are in fact newsworthy — something I personally define as being a matter of interest to the public, that is worthy of a member of the media’s time to break down and share.

This year at Broadview, we’ve run a number of earned media campaigns for our client roster and have generated well over a thousand media pieces this year. We also have designed and managed successful traditional paid advertising campaigns and social media campaigns with paid advertising components.

The key to success in any form of outreach is knowing what tactic is most appropriate for each situation.