Commonly known across the marketing world are the “four Ps” of marketing, or the marketing mix. They consist of products (or services), the price of those products, promotion, and place (distribution). While advertising has a very clear place in the promotion part of the marketing mix, the role of public relations can be more difficult to pin down. Public relations should be an integral part of the marketing mix and the confusion around its role needs to be clarified. While advertising is often “in your face” and easy to identify, public relations plays a more subtle, but no less important, role in the marketing plan of organizations.
When PR is done well, advertising is more successful.
While advertising and public relations are completely separate entities with very different goals, they work well when their actions are coordinated together. Advertising is much more likely to succeed when prior PR activity has been done to create a general knowledge and understanding of the product or service being promoted. Public relations can help the marketing strategy in this way by communicating with the public and building trust around a brand or organization prior to launching persuasive advertisements designed to sell. It is a waste of advertising dollars to launch new products with no buildup or market education.
Every organization is involved in PR.
Advertising may not be used by an organization, but every organization, no matter how large or small, is involved in public relations. Police departments do not advertise their services, but they have public relations issues to deal with all the time. Additionally, a small start-up business may not have the available budget to run advertisements, but they can use public relations tactics to get the word out and bring people in. Since public relations relates to all of the communications of an organization while advertising is limited to a marketing function, PR can almost be regarded as a bigger activity than advertising.
PR embraces everyone and everything.
Advertising is limited to tasks involving the promotion of goods and services. Public relations plays a more extensive and comprehensive role in an organization and its use can greatly benefit the organization at all times, not just during the newest advertising campaign. While they are successful when used together, PR is not a form of or a part of advertising. It is its own marketing tactic that can be applied across all parts of the marketing mix.