Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée once said, “Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.”

While Gassée does a great job at summing up the difference between advertising and public relations, there are still business leaders unclear about what sets advertising apart from PR, and what to use when.

In short, advertising is paid media and public relations is earned media. Often, owned media also falls under the “PR” umbrella. Continue reading to learn about the differences between advertising and PR, so you can properly assess which strategies work best for your business objectives.

What is public relations?

According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” In other words, PR builds credibility and expertise for an organization. Rather than paying to run an advertisement, PR professionals – like us – work with the news media to share positive stories about a client, brand or issue.

Not only does PR help you leverage the power and influence of the media, it can also strengthen brand awareness through owned media – your organization’s communications channels, such as websites, blogs, email and social media.

What is advertising?

Advertising is a form of marketing used to promote an organization’s brand, products or services. Unlike public relations, advertising builds exposure with a harder sell – you tell people how great you are. Steve Cody of Inc. magazine said, “

[Advertising] reflects senior management’s view on what a consumer or business-to-business buyer should think is important.”

A major benefit of purchasing advertising is that placement is guaranteed and there is complete creative control. With PR, you have less control of a message because journalists report what they consider to be newsworthy. However, a good PR agency can coach you on effectively conducting media interviews to increase the likelihood that the messages you want to convey will end up in the story.

When should we use PR?

Depending on what your business goals are, PR can be a cost-effective way to reach large numbers of people. It builds trust, as the news media gives third-party validation to your organization. And with the rise of digital media, a great PR story has the power to influence your audience for years to come with email, posts, re-posts and tweets, providing greater reach than ever before.

With the assistance of an industry-leading public relations agency, your organization can build its reputation as the expert in your field.