By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations, LLC.

Public relations and advertising are often used synonymously, but these techniques are worlds apart. Although both are marketing tools, they have very different purposes and results, and businesses that know the difference will have a competitive edge.

While paid advertising may lead one organization to success, relationship-building via PR may be the answer for another. Or, for some organizations, PR and advertising may work hand-in-hand to create a winning marketing strategy. Companies who advertise pay to have their ideas, goods or services promoted, like Budweiser’s ever-popular “Wassuuup?” ads. The sponsor (Budweiser) controls the message as well as where and when it is communicated. Yet, today’s consumers take advertising with a grain of salt. Is Budweiser as cool as the “Wassup?” ads make it out to be? Depends on which beer you drink.

On the other hand, Public Relations is non-paid communication between an individual or organization and their publics. While advertising focuses on creating sales, PR concentrates on building images and relationships. PR results can take time and may be harder to control and guarantee, but they can pack more marketing punch than a paid ad.

Why? Public Relations messages are real and believable because most times, they’re communicated through a third party, like a newspaper article or interview. Also, where advertising uses mass media, PR is more effective on a small scale. A simple handwritten thank you note to five target people may build an invaluable, long-term relationship that a TV commercial that reaches out to thousands never could. The better the PR professional, the more luck they’ll have delivering a genuine, image-friendly message for your business through that third party.

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