How PR and advertising differ

Public relations is a process through which your organization’s messages are positioned as news, in which case the information may be published in magazines and newspapers or broadcast on radio and television. Public relations is not paid advertising, in which you control the message. There is no guarantee the information will be picked up and disseminated, but when it is, the return-on-investment far exceeds that of advertising. Items published in newspapers are 17 times more likely to be read than advertisements. When an editor or reporter employs your material, the audience is likely to accept your messages within the credible context of a story written by a journalist.

Newspapers, magazines, and broadcasts are continuously looking for timely information on topics of interest to audiences. When, where, and how it appears is usually determined by how the information is presented to the editor.

How does one achieve such visibility? — often by employing a public relations counsel. Members of this profession generally maintain a high level of integrity that editors and reporters trust.  Most will avoid working with organizations that erode that credibility and will decline to disseminate information that is not substantiated. Counsels who work with Sibray Public Relations have spent many years working with the press to establish a credibility that benefits their clients. Our firm also maintains its own high credibility, gained through more than 20 years of practice.

Advertising is NOT public relations.

Advertising usually involves the purchase of time on the radio or television or space in magazines or newspapers. Your advertisements will appear as submitted, and in most cases you retain control over when, where, and how your messages will appear. Advertising, especially local retail advertising, is generally successful, though it’s relatively expensive, and no matter how well it is constructed, the audience will see it as a message paid for by the advertiser. Its objectivity may thus be compromised in the minds of potential buyers.

Blend your advertising with public relations.

For maximum impact, your marketing communications program should embrace both advertising and public-relations. Different approaches are required for these related, yet distinctly different, disciplines. The broadcast of key messages may thus be afforded maximum impact by communicating in several forms and appearing in numerous places to reach wider audiences. A variety of media exposures delivering one consistent message is the most effective means for achieving this objective.

This continuity is one of the most important keys to a retailer’s successful marketing communications program. Time your ad placements with your public relations activities to provide the strongest possible program. Public-relations efforts should complement and extend advertising messages.

If, for instance,  you expand into a new retail location and plan to advertise in local newspapers, consider producing a news release that announces the new location. Since retail advertising plans vary widely according to seasonal and fiscal buying patterns, plan on offsetting these patterns by taking advantage of public relations opportunities to pick up the slack.


Sibray PRAuthor David Sibray is a public relations counsel and a principal at Sibray Public Relations Company. He has been in the practice of public relations in West Virginia since 1994.

Post navigation

Leave a Reply