As an advertising major who works as an Account Executive for Allen Hall Public Relations and has a couple of PR internships under her belt, I've been able to experience both sides of the 'communication coin', so to speak. I've found that a lot of people know what advertising is, but few people actually know what PR is, or how it is significantly different from advertising. With the rise of integrated marketing, the line is being blurred even more. I found a great article today on pr blog Spin Sucks detailing what makes PR unique from its siblings. While the article itself has some smart ideas, the interesting stuff happens in the comments. David Rosen, of David Rosen Communications, writes:
Advertising is, for the most part, a marketing tool designed to generate sales or other desired transactions and in some cases to build brand awareness. Public relations seeks to create lasting relationships, increase visibility and build reputations. It does not generally seek to generate immediate transactions. It is not marketing, although it has increasingly (and unfortunately in my view) been subsumed under a marketing umbrella in most organizations.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between a “brand” and a “reputation” it’s this: a brand is how an organization sees itself; a reputation is how people actually see an organization and they think of it.
While most advertising professionals would disagree with Rosen's interpretation of brand, I still think Rosen's point that public relations is about creating lasting relationships while advertising is about increasing profits and raising the bottom line (which is not always a bad thing, of course). At the end of the day, advertisers want to increase sales. Public relations executives want to do the same thing, but indirectly through building positive reputations for their clients.