Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations: What’s the Difference?

No, we are not a marketing company. Yes, we do public relations (does our name give it away?) But no, we don’t provide advertising services.

TampaPublicRelationsConfused? You’re not the only one. The line dividing marketing, public relations and advertising has been muddled since the dawn of modern business. Let’s observe the difference between these trades.

Yeah, it’s Friday and nobody wants to learn. We get it. We’ll make this brief and breezy.

Marketing. It’s defined by the American Marketing Association as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.” Our translation: a strategic method of promoting a service or product to an identified demographic.

Many view advertising and public relations as individual marketing tools. Say you want to market a jewelry business you recently created. You’ll likely employ public relations or advertising to do so. There’s a distinct difference between these two though, so read closely.

Advertising. If your money is green, you can benefit from advertising. It’s how the business operates. Your money determines when your ads run, what outlets they run on and how often. Advertising is a guaranteed way to get seen by declaring how snazzy your business is through a graphic, commercial or product placement you pay for.

Here’s why your advertising dollars will only take you so far: consumers are savvy. It’s common knowledge that any organization with cash flow can secure an ad in the media universe- not because they offer an exceptional product or service, but because they paid for it. Despite advertising’s pitfalls, it’s still a surefire way to get noticed by your target audience.

Public Relations.  Instead of demanding attention through paid media, public relations shapes public perception of your business through earned media and interacts with potential clients through social media.

Public relations is multifaceted- it gets eyeballs on you and portrays your organization as credible. Professionals like us find timely news hooks associated with your business and pitch those hooks to local and/or national media outlets. Whether your coverage is in a magazine, online publication or TV news, the chatter about your business aids its image and reach.

In summary, public relations harnesses the power of traditional and social media to build and maintain a favorable public image.

For all you visual learners, check out the media coverage we earned ElderPoint Ministries during last year’s government shutdown. As a reputable food pantry in the area, we suggested the folks at FOX 13 stop by and check out how government-aided charities like ElderPoint were withstanding the crisis. Not only did we put them in the news, we bolstered their credibility and bragged about their stellar impact in the community.