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What’s the difference between advertising, public relations, and marketing?

By Emily Hileman

This is one story in our series on the differences between public relations, advertising, and marketing. Read more about the differences between PR and marketing in particular.


PR, advertising, and marketing are three very different things.Many people use the terms advertising, marketing, and public relations interchangeably; however, they aren’t the same thing. Here are some key differences between the three and why they matter. 



Marketing is the process your company uses to boost its presence and public awareness. You create your marketing strategy around the four P's: product, price, place, and promotion. The main goal of a marketing professional is to promote and distribute a product or service. Marketing is an all-encompassing term a company uses to get its product or service into a consumer's home, starting from the inception of the idea to consumers purchasing the product. 



Advertising is paid media. In other words, you pay another company to distribute your brand, product, or service in their space. Advertising is typically impersonal, expensive, and persuasive. Often, host sites, such as Facebook or Google, have pay-per-click advertising, meaning you have to pay each time someone clicks on your link or advertisement. 


Public relations

Public relations is earned media. PR professionals craft your company’s stories and send them to the media in the form of pitches and news releases. These entice the media to write positive articles and stories about you, your organization, and your customers. These stories appear in the editorial sections of newspapers, magazines, TV stations, and websites. This type of coverage is almost always more powerful than an advertisement. A study published in 2014 concluded that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising.


With advertising, you’re telling consumers how great you are. With a great PR team, trusted third parties will be singing your praises. To learn more about how to get the media interested in your company, download Axia Public Relations’ complimentary e-book “Learn Media Relations from the Media” today.

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Emily Hileman is a spring intern at Axia Public Relations and a senior at Austin Peay State University. She is detail-oriented, self-motivated, and has a desire to learn and succeed. Emily has worked for Axia since January 2020.

Topics: public relations

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