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Public Relations – Isn’t that just advertising?


Ask the average person what a Public Relations consultant does and the chances are they will not know. They may vaguely reply ‘Is it something to do with advertising?’ Or, ‘Don’t they work in politics?’ Few people though have a definite idea of what PR actually is.

In fact, PR consultants are the Ninja’s of the business world. They move around in the shadows quietly going about their business, unseen, yet with deadly effect. You may not know who they are or what they do but you will almost certainly see the results.

Advertising & PR – What is the difference?

The difference between advertising and PR is basically paid -v- earned. Companies pay for advertising, but they earn publicity. Sometimes the two run hand in hand. In the murky world in which we now live the lines are frequently blurred. However, advertising is easy. You have to work a bit harder for publicity.

What is advertising?

Advertising, as you may have noticed is all around us. Any paid-for promotion that features a product or service whether it be on billboards, magazines, TV, radio or digital is advertising. When a company has something they want (or need) to sell, they make sure that the consumer cannot avoid seeing it.

Advertising is what you pay for. Publicity is what you pray for!

What is PR?

Public relations is about making people look good. The role of a PR consultant is to establish or change the publics perception of companies or individuals so that they are viewed in a positive light. Frequently this may involve damage limitation. When a famous married sportsman is photographed falling out of a nightclub at 5 o’clock in the morning with a reality TV star on his arm, it won’t be long before stories of him visiting sick children in hospital begin to appear in the press. Thus, the curse is lifted.

So what is the difference between an advertising executive and a PR executive?

Advertising executives sell dreams. They only ever tell you what you want to hear. Stuff like, “your product is great, people love it” or “the numbers are going through the roof, now is a good time to increase your spend!”. Their end game is to make you feel good so you keep writing the cheques. Advertising people sell images.

An advertising executive is a fantasist. A PR executive is a realist.

PR executives tell you what you need to hear. They are not in the business of selling products, they are all about reputation and perception. the job of a PR guy is to make you seem wholesome and honest and trustworthy. PR people are storytellers. Their focus is on information and how they can spread that information between a company and the public.

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