Public Relations: Much More Than Advertising

As a public relations professional, you will face the following dilemma quite often on the job: ''Should we or shouldn't we advertise?''

Advertisements serve to refresh the customer’s memory regarding topics and issues an organization’s public relations department has already publicized as part of its PR agenda.

Be they small proprietary firms, multinational corporations, non-government organizations, or federal or state government departments, all organizations depend on the two vital pillars of advertising and public relations. Therefore, there is a constant need for both departments to meet and deliver on expectations.

However, organizational leaders generally expect more return on investment from PR campaigns, while advertising departments are treated with more leniency and flexibility. Oftentimes, PR professionals must account for every hour worked and every dollar spent.

Both public relations and advertising act as liaisons between the media and companies. The following table lists some of the subtle differences between the two approaches:

Advertising Public Relations
Advertisers pay for space. PR professionals wait for the press to publish news about their companies for free.
Advertisers have creative control over the space they have paid for. PR professionals have little control over what the press will say.
An ad for a new product or service will be aired or printed repeatedly for as long as the company’s budget allows. Thus, it will have greater longevity in the public domain. A press release for a new product or service will be used only once; it will be exposed relatively briefly to the public domain.
Ads are visual, target-specific propaganda meant to entice the public. PR efforts like press releases are aimed at editors of publications looking for content.
Contact with clients is minimal for lower-level employees in advertising departments. All PR professionals have to learn how to be media savvy very early in their careers.
Advertisements often use catchphrases and jingles to motivate people to buy the products or services they promote. PR professionals write in a no-frills news format devoid of blatant commercialism.
While ads can lend a glossy hue to PR efforts, PR professionals’ jobs are more demanding and require more multitasking. PR professionals must master the art of public speaking; understand how to give good interviews; and attend conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, and press launches, among other media events.

Companies’ future prospects depend greatly on their PR strategies, which serve to improve public image. A successful PR professional possesses the 10 key qualities and abilities listed below:
  1. keen observation skills

  2. good listening and communication skills

  3. the ability to learn while on the job

  4. the ability to carry out several tasks at once with equal attention to detail

  5. adaptability to new people and situations

  6. willingness to accept challenges with an optimistic outlook

  7. excellent crisis management skills

  8. the ability to form strong media relationships and make valuable contacts

  9. the ability to keep track of major news events and utilize them for PR purposes

  10. the ability to exercise controlled creativity
The PR professional who is ready to accept the field’s challenges and work to conquer them is destined for an exciting PR career.
On the net:PR vs. Advertising: 3 Facts of Life,0,w

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