PR and advertising: What’s the difference?

If you work in PR, what’s the best way to answer this question?


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As CEO of PR agency 5WPR, I still have to explain to friends and family what I do for a living—and the differences between public relations and advertising. Yes, they are very different, and no, I really don’t work in advertising.

What do you tell people outside of the industry? Here are some of my favorite quotes related to the topic:

“PR is about creating content and managing communications—in whatever format it is.” – Lord Chadlington (Peter Gummer), Huntsworth

“PR builds credibility, Advertising builds visibility.” – Elena Verlee

“Both PR and advertising are important in the marketing of your business, depending on what stage your business is at.” – Elena Verlee

“PR is great for building a connection with your audience and promoting your key messages, consumers are more likely to believe and take note of something written in an article, rather than an advertisement that has been paid for.” – Catriona Pollard, CP Communications

“There’s a saying people use to explain the difference between advertising and PR: “Advertising you pay for, PR you pray for.” – old quote, pulled from Vault.com

“By creating product awareness, PR often lays the foundation for advertising.” – Unknown author, Vault.com

“Advertising and PR are all about selling products.” – WetFeet.com

Are there any I missed?

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, and author of “For Immediate Release.”Contact him on Twitter at @rtorossian5wpr.

Topics: PR

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