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What is The Difference Between PR and Advertising?

Written by: Simone Sauter, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

The difference between PR and advertising is not always obvious. If they both help a coaching business become visible in the public eye, aren’t they ultimately just the same thing? You might wonder about the impact they might have on your business.


To truly understand the difference between PR and advertising, we first need to understand what they mean.


What is PR, Anyway?


PR refers to public relations. Public relations serves several main functions for a coaching business. These include:


  • Building relationships with the media and the public

  • Managing the brand’s reputation

  • Securing media coverage


A company’s public relations might be managed by the business themselves or with the help of a PR specialist.


The result of a strong PR campaign is publicity. Publicity is what you get out of good PR.


Publicity is the presence that PR creates around your brand, the positive buzz it develops for your business in the media and the public eye.


So, the Difference Between PR and Advertising is...?


Now, you might be wondering about advertising. What does advertising actually mean? Exactly what is the difference between PR and advertising?


Well, the meaning of advertising is relatively simple. Advertising is promotional media, and it involves paying to be featured in a media outlet.


There are many differences between PR and advertising, but the two main ones relate to their type of content and the reputation they create.


Difference #1 - Paid Media vs Earned Media


One difference between PR and advertising is that advertising is paid media. This means that in order to get exposure, you have to pay the outlet to feature your service.


On the other hand, publicity is earned media. With earned media, you earn the exposure for your coaching business by sharing your story and expertise with a journalist, providing them with material for their outlet.


There are benefits to paid media. For example, there is a high level of scaling possible with paid media. This provides security for your promotions because you can put a set amount of money in, and grow your leads and sales in return.


However, this can quickly become time-consuming and expensive.


Similarly, it takes an immense amount of time, money and expertise to set up a successful advertising campaign. Not to mention, there’s no guarantee that people who see the ad will then go on to use your coaching service.


So, how does this difference between PR and advertising impact your coaching business?


To answer that question, we have to consider another important distinction.


Difference #2 - What You Say vs. What Others Say


Building trust in your potential client base is very important. In a recent survey, 81% of respondents reported that brand trust was important to their purchase. If you can build a good reputation as a trusted business, you will automatically have clients wanting to use your coaching business.

A big difference between PR and advertising is the level of trust they build in consumers.


The fact is, it can be difficult to build trust via advertising alone. There are multiple reasons for this.


A major one is that advertising has simply lost trust. Consumers are constantly bombarded with advertisements online and in the media. Consumers understand that, whilst advertisements proclaim to want to help them, they are really only trying to sell them a product.


The many advertising scandals, and data harvesting scandals have also built suspicion towards advertising.


A second issue is that, no matter how great your credentials are, advertising is ultimately what you say about yourself. Advertising is paid media: you write your advert, and you pay to be featured in the media.


Meanwhile, as PR is earned media, PR is what someone else says about your coaching business. You earn that exposure, because the story of your business is newsworthy to a journalist.


Being featured by a media outlet promotes your business for free, because journalists know their industry inside out. Journalists know what their audience needs. And if they promote you, you’re being promoted to a ready-made audience of your ideal clients.


This isn’t to say that advertising is bad. Traditional advertising can be a secure way to promote your coaching business and find new leads. But it should be remembered that PR and advertising need to be used together to form a higher level of trust with consumers.


Click here to schedule a Discovery Call, connect with me on LinkedIn or visit my website for more information!

Simone Sauter, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Simone Sauter is a PR Strategist & Publicity Coach, bestselling author and tech nerd. She helps coaches to get more clients by being featured in the media so that they can rise above the noise online, become a go-to expert in their niche, skyrocket their income and make a bigger impact.


Simone has built her online coaching business in the relationship niche specializing in breakup coaching solely with PR and became Germany’s #1 Breakup Coach in less than two years.


Her website organically reached more than 1.000.000 people within two years, and she created an advertising value of more than 3 million euro. Simone was featured in Cosmopolitan, Instyle, Closer, and many more. She’s been on several podcasts and radio shows as well as on TV.


Moreover, she wrote a bestselling book with a well-known German publishing house on how to overcome heartbreak and created the first German online coaching program for overcoming heartbreak, which helped hundreds of women.

She holds a Master’s degree in Journalism and Public Relations, is a certified PR Consultant from German Press Academy Berlin and has 18 years of experience in the media and PR world.

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