Public Relations vs. Advertising? Which is better?

public relations vs. advertising

We often hear people using “advertising” and “public relations” as a synonym for each other. However, they both are quite different in helping you increase your sales. Both advertising and public relations are critical for communicating with your target audiences.

Public relations is all about communicating and spreading information about your brand through media relations. Whether through media outlets, journalists, podcast hosts, or a blog, PR allows you to create a positive perception of your business and business goals.

Conversely, advertising or advertising methods are paid media where you spend money for your ads to run. For example, you can pay a magazine or run social media marketing campaigns to place your ad. The main aim is to get your brand in front of millions quickly.

Businesses with large marketing budgets are likely to capitalize on advertising. Nevertheless, it raises an important question about PR vs. Advertising: Which is better? We will discuss the vital differences between Public Relations and advertising to help you better understand the two.

Public Relations vs. Advertising: Key Differences

There are different grounds on which we can draw a basic difference between public relations and advertising. So let’s go over them in more detail to give you a better idea about the key differences between them.


Advertising mainly refers to grab the target audience’s attention towards your goods or services. For example, businesses usually use various paid channels for advertising their products. On the other hand, public relations focus on building a trusting relationship between the brand and the public by building a strategic communication process.

Primary Focuses

Most companies use advertising to convince their target audience to buy their goods or services. It highlights its product’s key features that entice buyers to purchase. PR mainly focuses on maintaining a positive image of your brand and aims to change the public perception of the business.


There is no direct way for the public to communicate with the brand regarding advertising. Instead, it is a one-way communication strategy where the brand can convey its message. PR has a different approach since it understands the customers’ sentiments and then responds to the public accordingly.


The department with marketing strategy has complete control and authority over its ads in advertising. They can decide the content they want to add, when and how they want to run their ads, etc. On the contrary, you don’t have any control over the story you pitch.


In most cases, the main audience for your advertising efforts is your current customers. You want them to see your products and services, so the entire strategy revolves around them.

Public relations are more about keeping all the stakeholders, such as employees, investors, potential customers, etc., informed about new developments within the company. In addition, the PR team will share stories with various media outlets to increase brand awareness and target a wide audience.

Which One is Better for Your Business?

Now that you understand the difference consider the most suitable option for your business.

It would help if you considered these options before choosing your business. Usually, businesses consider cost, credibility, and impact as the main factors to decide whether they should go for advertising or marketing.


If you want to feature your ads in print media or run them on media channels, you would have to incur the cost of air time or ad space. While you might pay a high cost for running your ads, it will instantly put your key brand messages in front of thousands of customers. This method encourages customers to buy your products and services immediately.

But, if you have a low budget and would prefer free publicity for your brand, then PR is a better option. It gives you free publicity for your brand through news, press releases, etc. However, since there is no cost in pursuing PR, it would take some time before you get your intended results.


Credibility is one of the most crucial differentiators between public relations and advertising. In simple words, PR is when other people are boasting about your brand, whereas in advertising, you tell them about yourself. It shows how significant PR is when we talk about credibility.

Statistics show that the effectiveness of PR is 90% more than that of advertising. The main reason why PR is more effective is that a third party is telling about your brand. Therefore, it is more likely to help your brand build strong, trusting relationships between organization and its customers.


Lastly, businesses want to choose the method that has a greater impact and allows them to leave a lasting impression. So, if your focus is more on sales and you want to increase your revenue, advertising efforts are the right choice for your business. It helps you draw your target audience’s attention.

PR focuses on the long-term strategy since it focuses on building a credible image for your brand. The main goal of PR is to increase your brand awareness and recognition. You will eventually see an increase in sales and revenue as customer trust gains in your brand, but it will take some time. 

There are many companies offering PR and advertising services for different businesses. Some provide both services in one place, and some are specific i.e., PR or Advertising services. Among those companies, Los Angeles Public Relations provides PR services with their professional PR specialists

Final Word

Advertising and public relations are both great ways to communicate with your brand. They can help you increase sales and change the impressions for customers’ perception of your brand.

However, advertising costs come at a certain cost and can burden a small or medium enterprise’s finances. But on the other hand, there is no cost involved in pursuing PR. Here we know that the main and obvious difference between PR and advertising is the cost. So all you need is a well-crafted pitch that can grab the media outlets and journalists’ attention.

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