Many people often make the mistake of saying that Advertising is the same as Public Relations just because both seem similar, but I want to tell you that both are not the same and that you should not be confused.

Public Relations and Advertising are very different in that they have different meanings, they are different professions, they have different characteristics and they perform different duties and functions. Let’s look at their different meanings.

What is Advertisement?

William J. Stanton defines Advertisement as consisting all the activities involved in presenting to the audience a non-personal, sponsor identified, paid for messages about a product or organization.

John Meyers defines Advertisement as the dissemination of information concerning an idea, service or product to compel action in accordance with the interest of the advertiser.

American Market Association defines it as any paid, non-personal presentation of ideas, goods and services for the purpose of inducing people to buy.

The above three definitions has given us an idea of what Advertisement is and there are from three different authors who are well known. Let’s move forward to get the definition of Public Relation from three well-known authors as well.

What is Public Relations?

The British Institute of Public Relations (BIPR), defines Public Relations as the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) says that it is concerned with or devoted to creating mutual understanding among groups and institutions.

According to Frank Jefkins the author of the book, “Public Relations”, public relations is defined as all forms of planned communication both inwardly and outwardly between an organization and its publics for the purpose of achieving objectives concerning mutual understanding.

From the above definitions of Advertising and Public Relations, none of them suggests that both are the same. They all have their key words that differentiate them. And they are as follows:


  • Non-personal
  • Sponsor-identified
  • Paid for messages
  • Products

Public Relations

  • Deliberate
  • Planned
  • Sustained effort
  • Establish and maintain
  • Mutual
  • Understanding
  • Organization

To further prove that both are different, the following points shall be added.

  • Advertisement aims to introduce and promote new ideas, goods and services to the audience and Public Relations is concerned with creating and maintaining mutual relationships with the public. While advertisement makes a product known to the public, Public Relations creates and build an image for the organization.
  • Paid-for Messages: this means that Advertising has messages that are paid for by someone or a sponsor. The coverage is paid for and the sponsor knows when and how the advert will be covered, but in Public Relations, you get free publicity for your organization. Tools like news conferences and press releases are used to gain free media coverage for the company.
  • The Advertising messages are publicized the way the sponsor wants it to be, remembering that they are paid for, but in public relations the media houses may decide to edit and reconstruct the messages that the public relations officer brings in.
  • Advertising is aimed at making profit, when a product is introduced and promoted through adverts, the aim is to induce people to buy and that causes the company to make profit, but public relations is quite different because it only seeks to promote the image of the company, to make the company look right and have a good reputation in the eyes of the public.
  • Advertising is a marketing tool, it is used to introduce new products into the market so that people will buy the product, but public relations is not a marketing tool. Public relations is not a marketing strategy, it helps in educating the public about a company’s polices and decisions and also maintaining mutual relationships.
  • Both professions have different writing styles. The advertiser uses more creativity and has poetic license and can twist words to suit his taste and his needs and to also create dramatic effect, but a public relations officer merely follows the formal style of writing. He follows a strict pattern already laid out and a straight news format.

Don’t be confused anymore because these two industries are very different. Being an advertiser is quite different from being a public relations officer. So if you are considering a career in both professions you should know better than equate both as being similar.

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Uyioata Adam

I am just a black girl who loves singing and composing sweet tunes. writings is my twin and I love my black lips and my black Afro cos it shows that ebony blood running in my veins.

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