Monday 16 September 2013

Is PR advertising?

This week I'm writing about something that continues to surprise me - the prevalence of the belief that PR is advertising. It's not, of course, although the two disciplines are intrinsically linked.

PR is all about communicating with key audiences. In my line of work, it's usually about promoting a legal service to those audiences. However, it is not typically paid-for promotion in the same sense as advertising.

One element of PR - perhaps the most well-known - is media relations. Media relations is, in essence, about creating opportunities in the media for clients. It can include placing and writing bylined articles, providing comments for articles, writing and issuing press releases and securing interviews for television, radio, print or online publications (for example). 

All of these opportunities are free. This means they are accepted on merit and newsworthiness alone. No money changes hands between journalist and client.

On the flip-side; advertising is paid-for content and may include television or radio adverts, sponsored columns and advertorials (paid for adverts that have the look and feel of editorial), leaflets, pop-ups or banners. Because advertising is paid-for, it is usually promotional in nature, often overtly so.

There is often a cross-over between PR and advertising, for example, PRs are often responsible for writing the content for advertorial and sponsored columns. 

The real difference though is that PR is earned, advertising is paid-for. Simples.

By Victoria Moffatt

LexRex offers a wide range of PR and marketing services to law firms, including strategic brand and PR mapping, media relations, social media consultancy and support and a range of PR and writing courses. If you would like more information about our services, please drop us a line via email: or tweet us: @LexRexComms or @vicmoffatt

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