Advertising vs. Public Relations

It’s easy for laypersons to confuse the world of advertising with the world of public relations. Both are geared toward promoting and representing clients for the consumption of the public. And both are tools which a marketing agency like Mad4Marketing employs as part of an all-encompassing approach to selling a person, business or brand. There are, however, some very distinct differences which set dedicated advertising agencies apart from their PR counterparts.

The primary difference is that advertising agencies buy time and space to market their clients, while public relations firms are designed to generate free promotions and publicity. Buying ad space, such as television commercials, radio announcements and newspaper ads (or, in modern marketing, web space and web ads) gives an advertising agency ultimate creative control over the message. This includes where and when the commercial is aired, and how many times it runs. Contrarily, because public relations firms distribute information with the hope of complimentary promotion, it means that they have very little input about how or when their clients will be covered. They have no real control over what final message will be presented by newspapers, television and other commercial affiliates.

Advertising agencies sell their ability to plan, negotiate and strategize to buy established, predetermined media spots, and the client knows exactly what they’ll get going in. Public relations firms sell their ability to reach out to media contacts and supply the right angle to garner attention and enhance their client’s reputation. In short, while PR firms can get you on TV, advertising agencies can put you on TV. The downside for advertising agencies is that consumers are largely aware of overt ads, and paradoxically, therefore find them easier to ignore on television, on the radio and on the Internet. On the other hand, free publicity without an angle or call to action may be perceived as open, unbiased information or human interest, which may be received with a more open mind.

Both advertising agents and public relations representatives must have a keen knowledge of marketing. Advertisers work with media sellers and business strategists to develop targeted approaches for marketing a specific message. This involves comprehensive research to discover the most appropriate way to entice an audience in addition to brainstorming on how to sell their clients within the framework of a given media space. PR firms work with editors, publicists, community leaders and eminent media voices to pitch their clients and angles in a way that will be mutually beneficial to their clients and the media outlets which will actually be doing the publicity. Often, this means designing a message to intrigue PR points of contacts first, before considering how the message should best be marketed to the public at large.

And then there are agencies like Mad4Marketing, which bring the best of both worlds together. That is, we nurture connections, call on resources, work our contacts and put out information such as press releases in order to generate a free buzz. However, we’re also media buyers who use intensive advertising plans to successfully and pragmatically promote our clients and their businesses. We can get a third party to cover an upcoming event and initiate a word-of-mouth campaign while we buy spots that will ensure that clients will get on TV, get in the newspaper, get that coveted radio spot, or billboard, or bus siding, or website. But most importantly, we can guarantee that we’ll get a clear and concise message right to the hands, eyes and ears of your unique target market demographic. At Mad4Marketing, we bring together the best of both worlds.

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