If you went to business school you probably had classes on marketing, advertising, and public relations. And now that you’re in the real world working as a business owner or executive, you may struggle (like many of us) to identify meaningful differences between them.

The lines that separate marketing, PR, and advertising have always been murky. In the digital age, they are often blurry to the point of being indistinguishable. Still, you should have aspects of each in your promotional campaigns. And, it’s not unusual for new clients to ask us about them when we are in the process of helping them to plan future budgets, schedules, and activities.

With that in mind, how is public relations different from marketing or advertising? Let’s look at a few broad themes and specifics…

Advertising is All About Generating Sales

Advertising, in its many forms, involves paying for space to generate sales, leads, and other conversions. This is the billboard that’s designed to get you to pull over to buy a doughnut, or the ad in a magazine that creates interest in a perfume around Valentine’s Day.

While some advertising is structured more towards awareness than actual sales, the core goal of running an ad campaign is to improve revenue growth. Extending a brand is just a positive or secondary side effect.

Marketing Builds Interest and Awareness

Marketing and advertising are closely related, but the focus is slightly different. While you use advertising to take advantage of viewership in places where you can’t control, marketing campaigns are usually structured in different mediums. For instance, blogging and search engine optimization bring potential customers to you and create leads. It’s a pull instead of a push.

In today’s world, marketing and advertising are sometimes used almost interchangeably. Many business owners and agency executives would consider advertising to be a subset of marketing. That’s a completely reasonable point of view. The distinctions aren’t all that important so long as you know what you’re trying to accomplish.

Public Relations is Used to Create and Change Impressions

Finally we get to public relations, which often gets overlooked in the online marketing mix. In most cases, PR isn’t designed to sell products or services directly. Instead, the goal is changing minds or shaping opinions.

Imagine for a moment that you are the head of a small bank. You might use advertising to bring in new customers for a special kind of savings account your firm offers. Marketing could be implemented to make current clients aware of the program and to get them to schedule appointments. Your public relations goal could be to show all the good things your bank has done in the community, thereby raising your profile and increasing the effectiveness of the other two campaigns.

That’s really the point of all of this. Knowing the distinctions between advertising, marketing, and public relations can be helpful when you’re trying to set goals and targets. However, in the end it’s important that you cover all your bases because each activity should make the others just a little more powerful and effective.

Want to Work with a Marketing Agency That Can Do It All?

What clients love most about Biondo Creative in Philadelphia isn’t our award-winning creative work – it’s the fact that we help them take dozens of concepts, skills, and focus areas together, turning them into cohesive action plans. In other words, we make sure their bases are covered without charging huge fees or requiring big commitments.

If you want to see what it’s like to work with a creative team that does it all and puts your success first, then contact us today for a free consultation.