In the past few weeks I came across two articles.  The first was posted to Ragan’s PR Daily called “The PR Industry Today Looks an Awful Lot Like Advertising”.  At first glance it seemed true.  With the introduction of social media to the communication mix PR appeared to be more advertising centered.  This particular article caused a lot of controversy, as can be seen in the comments PR professionals started leaving to the author.

Within two weeks of the first article being published Frank Strong wrote this, “No, PR Does Not Look More Like Advertising”, in response.

So, which is it?  Does PR look more like modern advertising, or not?  The premise behind the original article posted the Ragan’s PR Daily was that social media is causing traditional third party media to be skipped, and target audiences are being contacted directly.  They are then advertised to through this direct line of communication without having to use traditional media outlets.

Strong’s counter argues that the reality is actually the opposite.  Rather, as he said it, “Advertising today is engineered to look, feel and function more like PR than advertising.”  Strong makes a point by explaining how PR works, and that it works.  Thus, the reason why advertising is trying to look like PR.

Strong shared the following visual to better explain.







Interruption Marketing is the typical form of advertising people are exposed to with traditional media.   It’s expensive, and consumers are sick of being interrupted.  Looking at the cost of social engagement from the PR model, I can see how it would appeal to marketers.

Public relations is just what it claims to be.  It’s about building mutually beneficial relationships.  This is the model that works, and marketing and advertising experts seem to be catching on.  Their traditional models are starting to disguise themselves as PR initiatives.  The relationship between marketing and PR has always been crucial.   PR can work and survive without marketing, but it would be hard for marketing to survive now days without PR…or at least looking like it.





  1. There are differences, Ryker, but I never intended for this to be an “advertising vs. PR” debate.  Truth be told both work better when they work together.  It’s all about tying these different tactics together under one strategy.

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