What is the difference between marketing, public relations, and advertising?

Difference between ad, marketing, pr

A common question that I get when I explain that my major is a combination of marketing, public relations, and advertising, is what is the difference between the three? A common misconception is that they are interchangeable, but even though they are very similar, it’s important to note the differences. Here’s a short and simple guide in case you ever get confused.


Marketing is the plan used for the communication and delivery of the product or service that the company offers. The marketing plan includes: demographics of your ideal client, pricing, market research, and promotion (advertising and public relations). This plan is to ensure that the company can sucessfully sell their products.

public relations

Public Relations is earned media. All this means is that a reporter, editor, blogger, vlogger, radio host, customer or anyone speaks on your product without being paid to do so. For example, if you are a PR practitioner and you have a connection to a journalist, you can try to convince them to write an article on a new product your company is releasing. Note that in this case, the type of publicity is always positive.


If public relations is earned media, then advertising is paid media. Advertising is the way the company communicates their brand,  mission, and product information via media like television, radio, the Internet, and newspapers and magazines. Choosing the correct medium is determined by the research done for the marketing plan and is dependent on the target audience.

I hope this helped you determine the difference between marketing, advertising, and public relations. Don’t forget to share this on your social media networks.