Since I’ve been reading Muck Rack, I’ve wondered what the difference between public relations and advertising is. MR directed me to an article, “Public Relations Activities” (no byline), in Media Miser that lays out the basics of PR work.

Using Wired Marker, I highlighted the advertising passages in red and the PR in blue, and the difference emerged as shown by the markers.

For advertising:

purposefully planned and executed messages in selected media to further the interest of an organization or person. Persuasive material that is presented to the public as the acknowledged appeal of an identified party who has paid to have it appear.

… enhance good will, product image and sales.

Controlled and uncontrolled messages disseminated in the mass media

For Public Relations

Planned messages disseminated to employees through a variety of communications channels, including newsletters, bulletin boards, payroll stuffers, posters, etc

Direct attempts to influence legislative and regulatory decisions in government

Information about an organization, person, issue or cause published or broadcasts

The first three seem like advertising, but the next three have to be pure PR. We have complete control over employees, push for whatever law or bill the client wants passed, and provides information about individuals and groups.

So, here we are. Advertising tells people how to live by what to buy (note depictions of ideal home life in most commercials), and PR tells people what to think and whom or what to vote for.


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