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Advertising vs Marketing vs PR: Know the Difference.

June 21, 2013

The Digital Do-Gooders met for the last time this week and we talked about the difference between Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, three related but very different activities for promoting your organization.

Three principles sometimes used to explain the difference are Control, Cost and Credibility. When you create an advertisement you control the content, the cost is typically high and credibility can be questionable because you’re the one telling the world how great you are.

On the other hand, when you engage in social media (a function of PR), you lose control because you’re inviting two-way dialogue (hopefully!). But, the cost is low and when others tell the world how great you are, credibility is extremely high.

Here’s a chart I created to help define each of these activities:


Most organizations should consider using a blend of all these tools to help raise awareness and promote their organizations. Your budget, available talent, and buy-in of leadership will all impact how you balance these.

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  1. Anne Brownell permalink

    Great post Lori – and timely for me. In a not- for- profit, staff members usually wear a lot of hats which sometimes translates to “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”. The distinctions you laid out are very helpful.

  2. Thanks Anne, great to hear this was helpful. Wearing all those hats is one of the greatest challenges for those working in the non-profit world but it also makes for an interesting and always evolving work life.

  3. Bonnie Deslippe permalink

    Thanks Lori-sorry I missed the last session. Your info as always is very helpful (was going to add an exclamation, but I know how you feel about those) :0)

  4. Haha Bonnie! Sometimes exclamation marks are just the right thing 🙂

    Keep in touch and let me know how things are going at the Gallery.

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