Advertising vs. Marketing vs. Public Relations: Understanding the Key Distinctions

If we look at marketing, advertising, and public relations merely, they look like the same strategies, but there are differences in each aspect. Many people tend to get confused with these three but then the main difference between them is the key focus. Public relations focus is on nurturing relationships between an individual or companies and the public for the client’s image benefit. Marketing, on the other hand, highlights the promotion of services and products for the purpose of profit. Advertising is a medium used by marketers to acquire customers.

Companies with a greater understanding of the nuances between advertising, marketing, and PR can develop a successful marketing strategy. Companies are developing marketing and advertising campaigns to enhance brand awareness and promote products or services. However, public relations support companies to build and improve their reputation with the public. In this article, let’s analyze the key distinctions of these three strategies by understanding different types of marketing, advertisements, and public relations in detail.

Types of marketing

In today’s corporate world, marketing, which can reach a customer’s overall perception of a business, should be done through various digital marketing activities such as SEO & Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing and Paid Advertising, and offline activities such as Business Cards, Pamphlets, Tradeshows, Workshops, Canvassing, Classified Ads and more. Marketing defines how a company makes its audience mindful of its products, services, and brands. Concurrently, both online and offline activities are essential to gaining brand awareness and growth. Here, you will come across different types of marketing and related features so that you can understand the variance.  

Content marketing:

  • Valuable content creation and distribution.
  • Educating the target market about the industry and company.
  • Focus on blog posts and online materials.
  • Strategic approach to creating relevant content.

Inbound marketing:

  • Tailored experiences for individual consumers.
  • Chat boxes for customer service engagement.
  • Attracting, delighting, and engaging customers.
  • Personalized approach to amuse, attract, and engage the target audience.

Social media marketing:

  • Utilizing channels like Facebook, Twitter, and
  • Reaching the target audience through social media.
  • Paid advertising on social media platforms.
  • Engaging and connecting with customers online.

Digital marketing:

  • All online marketing efforts.
  • Includes social media, inbound, and content marketing.
  • Focus on search engines, email, and websites.
  • Strategies to reach and engage the online audience.

Traditional marketing:

  • Non-digital marketing campaigns
  • Print, broadcast, phone, mail, and
  • Offline advertising channels.
  • Traditional methods of reaching customers.

Marketing communication:

  • All messages and media are used by the company.
  • Branding and advertising elements.
  • Coordinated marketing communications.
  • Engaging and effective communication strategies.

Visual marketing:

  • A key part of marketing campaigns.
  • Use of colors, fonts, logos, and photos.
  • Instant and powerful communication tool for businesses
  • Connecting with customers through visuals.

SMS marketing:

  • Promotional messages via text.
  • Short Message Service (SMS) marketing.
  • Increase brand awareness, web traffic, delivers news updates, and run promotions
  • Direct communication with customers.

Email marketing:

  • Cost-effective marketing approach to market services and products and reach customers
  • Reaching customers through email campaigns.
  • Building trust and increasing website visits.
  • Producing leads and driving sales through sending emails.

Search engine marketing:

  • Strategies to increase visibility on search engines.
  • Focus on optimizing the website and content.
  • Paid advertising on search engine platforms.
  • Increasing web traffic through SEO techniques.
  • Reaches consumers at the right timing: when they are exploring new information

Types of advertising

As you can notice where you go, there are many types of advertising both online and offline. Whether you have just started your business or want to promote your existing business, advertising plays a key role in promoting your products and services, especially after developing your new website. There are several approaches to reaching target audiences, driving sales, and enhancing brand awareness through physical and digital advertising methods. This is when organizations acquire spaces on a billboard, magazines, websites, and others to promote their services and products.

To help you understand the difference between advertising and the other two segments, we’ve categorized the types of advertising and their related benefits and features. Once you understand the following points of each type of advertising, you’ll be best equipped to differentiate advertising from marketing and public relations.

Digital advertising:

  • Paid ads on online platforms such as mobile apps and internet publications
  • Targeted advertising on social media, websites, etc.
  • Reaching online audience effectively.
  • Maximizing exposure through digital channels.

Traditional advertising:

  • Print, billboard, broadcast ads, and other public surfaces like postal mail or bus stops.
  • Offline advertising methods.
  • Reaching the audience through traditional media.
  • Broad exposure in non-digital spaces.

Ambient media:

  • Unconventional advertising methods.
  • Encourages consumer participation.
  • Alternative ways to engage with the audience.
  • Innovative and creative advertising approaches.

Product placement:

  • Branded products in TV shows and films.
  • Paid placement for brand exposure.
  • Integration of products into entertainment content.
  • Subtle promotion through visual media.

Out-of-home advertising:

  • Ads displayed in public spaces.
  • Billboards, bus stops, transit ads.
  • Broad exposure in high-traffic areas.
  • Catching the attention of passers-by.

Influencer advertising:

  • Enables businesses to collaborate with influential individuals.
  • Leveraging their reach and credibility.
  • Promoting products or services through influencers resulting in increased exposure
  • Targeted marketing through influential personalities.

Native advertising:

  • Ads designed to match the platform’s form and function.
  • Seamlessly integrating into the user experience.
  • Blending with editorial content for better engagement.
  • Non-disruptive advertising approach.
  • Boosts conversions and increases CTR (Click-Through Rate)


Display advertising:

  • Combination of images, texts, and a URL that links to a webpage
  • Placing visual ads on mobile apps or websites.
  • Banner ads, pop-ups, and overlays used
  • Targeted advertising based on user behavior.
  • Maximizing brand visibility in digital spaces.

Video advertising:

  • Ads displayed within online video content.
  • Pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads.
  • Engaging and captivating video ads.
  • Reaching the audience through popular video platforms.
  • Delivers story and information, improve sales, and creates a thrill

Mobile advertising:

  • Ads specifically targeted to mobile devices.
  • In-app ads, mobile banners, and SMS ads.
  • Location-based targeting for better relevance.
  • Reaching audience on their mobile devices.


Types of public relations

PR helps an organization build a good relationship with its public and preserving a positive relationship with stakeholders is vital to the success of every brand. These are strategies and techniques related to delivering information about the company or an individual to the public. If the public perspective of a company is undesirable, people will no longer be interested in using its products or services. From the following categorizations, you will know many different types of public relations and various areas of focus.

Strategic communications:

  • Coordinated efforts supporting business objectives.
  • Aligning communications with organizational priorities.
  • Setting communication objectives and strategies.
  • Supporting overall business goals through PR.
  • Specialized approach to issuing and receiving information
  • Best message delivered through right channels, to timing, and right people

Media relations:

  • Building relationships with media outlets.
  • Sending press releases and pitching interviews.
  • Generating media exposure for companies.
  • Collaboration with journalists for effective coverage.

Community relations:

  • Direct engagement with the local community.
  • Two-way communication with the audience.
  • Obtaining feedback and highlighting benefits.
  • Coordinating events and fostering community relationships.
  • Emphasizes on reputation and brand within a particular community

Internal communications:

  • Focus on employee engagement and satisfaction.
  • Keeping staff informed and motivated.
  • Understanding employee needs and concerns often done through Q&As, meetings, newsletters, and check-ins
  • On-going programs for effective internal communication.
  • Exchanging of information within teams, departments and team members

Crisis communications:

  • Preparedness for managing crises.
  • Clear crisis communications plan in place.
  • Maintaining reputation during challenging times.
  • Building strong relationships with stakeholders and media.
  • Lessens financial and reputational damages

Public affairs:

  • Building relations with politicians and decision-makers.
  • Lobbying and involvement in legislative processes.
  • Providing assistance in regulatory compliance.
  • Enhancing corporate communication and trade associations.
  • Deals with matters affecting the public directly

Online reputation management:

  • Monitoring and shaping online perception.
  • Managing desirable online presence and brand reputation.
  • Responding to online feedback and reviews.
  • Proactively managing online reputation.

Corporate communications:

  • Managing communication with stakeholders.
  • Maintaining a positive public image.
  • Sharing corporate news and updates.
  • Making productive communications with the public and shareholders.
  • Organization’s way to increase and strengthen its position
  • Efforts between organization and society to spread kindness and image propagation


Event management:

  • Planning and coordinating public events
  • Organizing events for organizations.
  • Creating memorable experiences.
  • Enhancing brand visibility and engagement.
  • Detail-oriented logistics with engaging aesthetics

Investor relations:

  • Communication with shareholders and investors.
  • Providing financial information and updates.
  • Building relationships with potential investors.
  • Transparency in financial communications.
  • Strongly integrated with the organization’s departments such as legal, accounting, and top executives


Hopefully, this article must have helped you understand the difference between PR, marketing, and advertising. Although they have a lot of connections and overlapping goals, each strategy is different with various particular priorities. Shortly saying, marketing supports to promoting a product or service in a particular group of audience and market while Public Relations support a brand to maintain a public image. And Advertising supports to promoting a brand with the support of effective content. Each segment supports to promoting a product or service in its unique way.