The Difference Between Marketing, PR and Advertising

by | Oct 24, 2022 | Communication

It’s safe to say that nearly every large organization understands it needs marketing, PR and advertising to be successful and competitive. But what’s the right amount for each? And is it beneficial to have them in action all at once? What about startups that don’t have the budget to invest in all three from the get-go? These are all frequently asked questions, but the first step is getting acquainted with each function and how they differ. And with 2023 right around the corner and companies taking a close look at their communications budget, we’re here to shine light on the benefits of each.


Marketing, at its core, is the action of promoting or selling a product or service that has value for customers by means of advertising and market research. And there are a lot of marketing categories, including influencer marketing, guerilla marketing, keyword marketing and more. In order to successfully get the word out about a product or service, marketing must play a role. 

When it comes down to it, sales and growth goals cannot succeed without marketing. Whether you’re looking to sell out an event or launch a new product, you must get the word out. How else are people supposed to know what’s going on? In a day and age where the internet and social media is filled with advertisements, new services, sexy new products, etc., you have to find a way to stand out and break away from the noise. It’s critical to outline what makes your product or service timely, unique and needed. And you must understand your core audiences and their buying habits.

Public Relations

Public relations (PR) is much more than drafting a press release and hoping it gets into the right hands when you have an announcement to share with the public. In fact, it’s much, much more than that. PR is about creatively and strategically telling a story, or sharing an announcement, so that it builds onto a company’s brand in a positive way. It also involves a close working relationship with the media (i.e., print, digital, TV and social media) so that your message gets to the right audience. 

Knowing who to connect with in the media is also a critical part of succeeding with public relations. Not every reporter covers the same beat, or topic. While some reporters are general assignment reporters, covering a wide range of topics, others are assigned a specific subject-matter area. It’s up to PR professionals to do diligent research to identify who to pitch a story to and when so they can provide the company they’re working with the most success and desired results. Some companies have internal PR professionals while others work with agencies, like Dittoe Public Relations, to ensure they’re getting their brand’s story told in the most successful way.


Advertising is a promotional means of selling a product, service or idea and paid for by the company/person wanting to get the message across, whereas public relations is aligned with earned (i.e., non-paid) media. Advertising can come in many forms, the most popular being copy and video. The one creating an advertisement has complete control over the message, the placement of the message (and who it’s targeting), and the frequency that the message is delivered.

As a society, we come across advertisements literally all of the time. Billboards, commercials, mailers, pop-up ads while we’re watching videos on social media, etc. While we may not make an immediate purchase after seeing an ad, the message (which is often very targeted based on our individual buying and searching habits) is tucked away so that when the time comes, we remember that “piece of clothing” or “discounted piece of furniture” that crossed our paths. 

Marketing, PR and advertising are a powerful combination. While this blog just gives a snapshot of what each entails, it’s important for any company to understand the differences between the three as they all bring value to the table when it comes to delivering a message. At Dittoe PR, we often have new and potential clients come to us to better understand how PR can drive results, especially if they already have a strong marketing strategy in place. PR is a critical piece of an overall marketing strategy, and we prove that time and time again with the multiple industries and clients we work with as an agency. 

Want to learn more? Connect with us today and we can discuss how PR can get you the results you want and how it can positively impact additional marketing and advertising efforts.

Dittoe PR

Dittoe PR is a nationally recognized public relations and social media management agency.

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