Advertising and PR - What's the Difference?
There's a saying people use to explain the difference between advertising and PR: "Advertising you pay for, PR you pray for." That's at the heart of the difference between the two closely related industries. When a client goes to an advertising agency, he's expecting people to put together a campaign to make people aware of his product or service. The work includes some creative effort along with a strategy for exposing it to as many people as possible - and he's willing to purchase media space to place the ads. When a client goes to a PR firm, he is also looking to communicate with the public. However, as opposed to an advertising representative, a PR agent has to convince a journalist to feature the client - without paying the journalist. And in the cases where a journalist has already decided to feature the client, the PR agent's job is to ensure that the client is portrayed in as positive a light as possible.
Publicity is great when you get it, because the public is more likely to believe a newspaper article or news story than an advertisement - but the catch is that publicity offers no guarantees. For example, Barry's Bagels could gain positive publicity by sponsoring a free bagel making class next Saturday, but coverage of the event could easily be overshadowed if there's an earthquake in New Jersey the same day. Alternately, Barry could pay for a TV campaign. He would definitely get his name out, but he wouldn't necessarily have an edge over all the other bagel producers on the supermarket shelves.
Though they take different approaches to publicity and marketing, PR and advertising have been collaborating for at least 80 years. In fact, in 1919, N.W. Ayer and Son became the first advertising agency to open its own PR department. Today most major advertising agencies have PR divisions. By creating product awareness, PR often lays the foundation for advertising. It can also draw attention to existing advertising. Many advertisers believe that it makes no sense to spend money on advertising unless a company has established credibility and name recognition with PR. Today many advertisers create integrated marketing programs that combine traditional advertising, sales promotion, interactive ads, direct marketing, and other tools.