Publicity or Advertising?

As communication tools, advertising and publicity are very different. Each offers advantages but are not without their drawbacks.

PR can be called earned media, while advertising is earned media.

PR is priceless exposure and advertising is necessary for building brand awareness and amplifying the reach of a brand across various platforms. Given below are the pros and cons of both.


PR aims to get free publicity for a company. It is essentially free, although a media relations program may not be. For advertising, a company will pay for ad space and air time Compared to advertising campaigns, PR is substantially less expensive.


People pay more attention to news, compared to advertising. They automatically tune out of advertising.

PR messages presented in the context of news have greater impact.

While reading or watching an ad, customers know that someone is trying to sell them something.

Advertising has to communicate its message within limited space and time.

A PR story has the advantage of providing much more detail about a company. PR is a two way communication process where a company can listen and respond to the public.

When a company uses PR to promote itself, PR professionals recognize something newsworthy in the product, it could be relevant to an emerging trend, a powerful mission, and many others.

Earned media helps to build trust with customers. Articles from journalists lead to greater consumer trust than branded content.


PR deals with media mentions and news stories which are objective and are therefore more believable than paid advertising.

When a company has articles written on it in a publication, googling it will pull up those articles and reviews.

Accomplishing this is tougher than gaining visibility through advertising but it helps to build credible social proof. When the advertising budget runs out, the short moment of fame for a brand is over.


In both PR and advertising, creativity can be exercised to craft campaigns and messages.

PR aims to generate buzz through various news outlets. Being creative in advertising also results in brand recognition.


Publicity is heavily dependent on timing.

When a story is still fresh, it has to be picked up by media outlets.

If that does not happen, the chance to convey a company’s message cannot be recovered.

An advertisement can reach many people and can be repeated as many times as the advertiser’s budget allows.

Control Over the Message

For fast visibility, advertising is the better option.

A media release may capture the media’s attention, the resulting story may not be positive or full of meaningful detail.

Reporters are free to present their story as they see fit.

The advertiser, on the other hand, has full control over the ad.

As a company pays for space , it has control over what an ad looks or sounds like.

Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States.

With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals.




Ronn Torossian is Chairman & Founder of 5WPR & one of America’s most notable PR executives. He is the Author of best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release.“

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Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is Chairman & Founder of 5WPR & one of America’s most notable PR executives. He is the Author of best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release.“

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