By Janet Udogu

“If I was down to my last dollar I’d spend it on public relations”- Bill Gates.

Advertising and public relations are two different effective marketing tools. In some quarters however, they are grossly misunderstood to be one and the same. They may be different sides of the same coin but they are certainly not the same. Their difference here suggests that they are intentionally created to achieve different purposes.

Advertising is a controlled message placed in paid-for space in print media, online platforms and social media, whereas, public relations involves largely media coverage through strategic outreach to journalists, news media and trade magazines.

A little more than the knowledge of the meanings of public relations and advertising is needed to choose correctly- this is normally where you need to consult your public relations firm for an in-depth analysis and diagnosis of the issue on ground, and to guide you in making a wise business decision. Using a hammer where you should use a screwdriver could completely mar or fail to achieve the desired goal. But in the case that you are not able to reach a public relations manager and you really need to make that decision, the list below could be some help:

PR gives you more credibility than advertising

Credibility brings about trust. Consumers today are more cautious when it comes to spending. That is why credibility is very essential for every success-driven business. Customers are more likely to trust messages coming from an objective source rather than paid-for advertising messages. The media outlets are often viewed as independent and unbiased third parties.

PR is relatively more affordable than advertising

Public relations is a far more reasonable and economical way to stay in front of your customers than advertising. While it is true that public relations can be costly if you hire the wrong firm, considering the cost of other promotional advertising, it is still on the cheap end of the scale. In public relations, the payment made is based on time spent making connections, pitching and submitting to newspapers, trade magazines and online platforms. This is certainly different from advertising where almost always, payments are made per ad.                                       

PR makes you more visible on the search engine than advertising

Visibility is everything in business. Its importance cannot be over emphasised. So, your position on search engine makes a lot of difference, and this is where public relations comes in. It keeps you top on the list. Public relation with the necessary tools improves your position on search engines and makes it easier for customers to find you.

PR attracts your target market more than advertising     

Every newspaper and magazine article, blog post or trade journal is an intentional strategic penmanship with the sole aim of reaching a particular audience or market while creating awareness for your products and organisation. This is done in a subtle but absolutely more persuasive way than advertising. By sending your contents to the right media, a trade journal for instance, you stand the chance of attracting your target market and getting the desired patronage.

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