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Effective Marketing Strategies: Advertising vs. Public Relations

Ketaki Borkar
Advertising and public relations, can extensively influence the success of an organization. This write-up aims to familiarize the reader with the terms of advertising and public relations individually, and then discusses advertising vs. public relations.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines marketing as the activities, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
The contribution of marketing to the success of any business is highly significant.
In fact, marketing has the power to determine the success of a particular product or service launched. Effective marketing involves the application of many strategies, two of which are: advertising and public relations.
We shall attempt to understand these two terms in the following discussion. Henceforth, here the use of the term product will refer to both, a service or a product that is to be marketed.


Advertising refers to any form of paid and impersonal presentation of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor.

Advertising Types

Informative Advertising

This includes advertisements that aim to provide the customer with information about the product. This form of advertisement informs the customer about the various features and the benefits of using the product.

Persuasive Advertising

The objective of this form of advertisements is to persuade the consumer to buy a particular product or employ a service offered. It usually includes some attractive additional features or special offers that will further entice the customer to buy a product.

Comparative Advertising

These types of advertisements, indirectly or directly, compare the product to be marketed with another of a similar type. Generally, when there are only a few (usually, two) major players in the market, one or all of these business competitors use this advertising strategy.

Rememorative Advertising

Advertising done through this type is usually in case of a product that is well-established and has a strong-hold on the market. This type of advertising is used only to remind the consumer about the product.

Advertising Graph

Growth Phase

The function of advertising assumes immense importance at the onset or launch of a product. The advertising is usually in full swing in this phase. All the advertising techniques are put to use in this stage. Initially, informative advertising is employed. In the latter part of this phase, informative as well as persuasive advertising is utilized.

Established Phase

Once the product has established a standing in the market, a combination of persuasive, comparative, and rememorative advertising is observed with informative advertising kept at its lowest.

Declining Phase

In this phase, the whole process of advertising is suppressed. Rememorative advertising may be used in isolated cases. If there exists any chance of revival of the product, a novel advertising approach may be applied.

Objectives of Advertising

  • To generate awareness about a product or a service offered.
  • To inform the consumer about the various features of the product or service.
  • To induce the customer to buy the product or avail the services offered.

Secrets for Good Advertising

  • Repetition of advertisements
  • Strategic placement of advertisements (including time)
  • Quality of advertisements
  • Form of advertising
  • Target market considerations and segmentation while advertising

Public Relations

Public relations refer to any form of unpaid communication, designed to generate a positive image of a company in the market.
Public relations can also be considered as a planned effort by an organization to the establishment of favorable opinion for the organization and its products and services.

Public Relations Tools

  • News
  • Written Material
  • Audiovisual Material
  • Corporate Identity Material
  • Speeches
  • Special Events
  • Other (social cause, websites, employees)

Public Relations Graph

Growth Phase

As in the case of advertising, public relations in the growth phase is of utmost importance for the organization and considerable time and effort is deployed for public relations.

Established and Growing Phase

It has been observed that most companies do not entail much importance to public relations once the product is past its growth stage. However, PR deals with the image of the organization on the whole and is not limited to a particular product.
Hence, ideally, PR should have a graph that doesn't fall below a minimum predefined value. The PR strategy should be attributed a predetermined level of importance throughout the lifetime of an organization, and a spike should be observed with an increase in PR activities when any new product is launched.

Public Relations - Objectives

  • Maintaining a rapport with the public
  • Generating repeat buyers
  • Maintaining long-term relationships with the clients

Secrets for Building Good Public Relations

Most organizations and its managers tend to neglect public relations as an effective marketing strategy. Even when employed, PR often is not a well-planned and well-managed activity. It assumes a very random form and this can hurt the prospects of an organization and its products.
The most paramount suggestion when using PR as a marketing strategy is that it should be given its due importance.
  • Giving enough importance to PR.
  • Planning and organizing PR activities.
  • Significant social work or assistance to social causes.
  • Introducing every change in top-level management through news and talk-shows.

Advertising vs. Public Relations

Advertising has an extremely wide reach, and thus, is one of the most effective tools of marketing. Additionally, its expressive nature enables it to strongly influence the consumer.
A total control over how the advertisement will be presented to the end-user is possible. This facilitates better planning and strategizing of the advertising function in an organization.
As against this, the quality of the news, the features of the product it highlights, the placement of this news piece when media relations is used for PR, are all beyond the control of an organization. Advertising also allows a control over the place, time, duration, and repetition; contrary to PR.
Advertising in itself implies paid ways of generating positivity in the market about a product. As against this, PR deals with building long-term relationships and promoting a positive image of the company. PR relates to the unpaid ways of 'being in news'.
Thus, the cost incurred for the process of advertising is much higher as compared to that required for building strong public relations.
An activity that is a result of public relations like news, gives the product review from the perspective of a third person and also gives a detached comment on the product. Thus, a PR activity is perceived to be more legitimate and believable by the customer.
Both advertising and public relations can be used as tools for branding. It is important to remember that advertising or public relations, alone will never comprise the marketing strategy of an organization for its product. A combination of both is mandatory for effective business marketing and in order to ensure the success of a product.