Published Articles

7 Vital Differences Between Public Relations and Advertising

Fresh graduates searching for a career, and entrepreneurs trying to promote their fledgling business, often have questions about public relations and advertising. These two very different industries are frequently confused as being one and the same. The emergence of the “Public Relations and Advertising Agency” (an attempt at Integrated Marketing Communications) doesn’t help matters in this regard.

The following are seven points that just scratch the surface of the numerous dissimilarities between advertising and public relations.

1. Free Coverage vs Paid Space

The public relations executive’s job is to get free publicity for the company or for his client; news mentions by the media for which they are not paid. By setting up press conferences, writing press releases and hosting media parleys, he focuses on establishing good rapport with relevant press people, and getting free media exposure for the company/client.

In advertising on the other hand, the company pays for advert space, and knows when exactly that advert will air or be published.

2. Control

The public relations practitioner has no creative control over how the media presents the information supplied; if they decide to use it at all. The media is under no obligation to cover an event, or to publish a press release just because it was sent to them.

In advertising, because the client is paying for ad space, he has creative control over what goes into that advert, down to the very last detail.

3. Consumer Perception

When looking at an advert, consumers know that a company is trying to “sell” a product or service, and they receive the message guardedly. Conversely, PR helps generate third-party ‘endorsement’ by independent media sources, thereby creating credibility. When someone reads an article written by someone with no affiliation to your company, or views objective coverage of your event on TV, they know you didn’t pay for it, and they view it in a different light than advertising.

4. Shelf Life

An advert generally has a longer shelf life than one press release. Whereas a PR executive can only submit a press release about a new product once, adverts can be run over and over, for as long as the company’s budget allows. A company can even buy advertising space for the same advert to run every day for a week or even months, but an editor won’t publish your same press release three or four times in their paper or magazine.

5. Different Creative Energies

Advertising executives exercise their creativity by putting togetheradvertising campaigns and material. Creative sessions to come up with attractive newspaper adverts, catchy radio jingles and inspiring TV commercials are the norm in advertising agencies.

In public relations, your creativity is exercised in the way you organize and present your company’s information to the media as newsworthy, the way you are able to generate and sustain buzz through that news, and very importantly, your crisis control skills when it comes time to save your client or company’s integrity and keep scandal from escalating.

6. Special Events: Let’s say your company, as part of their corporate social responsibility, renovates a school, provides a community with pipe borne water, or sponsors an event. Would you take out an advert praising yourselves for being such a great company? No, you wouldn’t overtly blow your trumpet that way. Instead, your PR people package it as news. They send out a press release, which the media will pick up. Beyond publishing the information, they may even cover the event and report it.

7. Writing Style: A young graduate who recognizes that they have a way with words may say, “I want a career in PR and/or Advertising.” However, many do not realize that the writing style required for successful advertising, would be out of place in PR.

An advertising copywriter is free to exercise his creativity in putting together ad campaigns and materials. Phrases like, “Act now!”, “Call us today!” or “Only the best will do for you” are all things you can say in an advertisement, to inspire consumers to buy your product.

In Public Relations however, you’re writing in a strictly no-nonsense news format. Any obvious commercial messages in your communications will be disregarded by the media.


So there you have it; it’s up to you to decide which career path suits you better, or which communication approach meets the needs of your business best.


The MIT: One Simple Tip to Put An End to Wasted Days!

“How was your day?”

People get asked this question very often, and the answer is usually “fine”, “terrible”, “so-so”, and on rare occasions, “great!”

Many busy people are familiar with the dispiriting feeling of winding down at the end of the day without having accomplished anything significant. Yet, for most upwardly mobile, forward-thinking people, a bad day is the result of poor planning- the “busy doing nothing” syndrome. Yes; barring unforeseen tragic circumstances, the main reason why you feel unfulfilled at the end of the day is the absence of a sense of accomplishment, and this is caused by poor planning.

You start your day with a great number of things to do, and at the end of the day, find that you were only able to do three, and that out of those three you did only one well. You are not alone. Having so much to do and so little time to do it is something that everyone who is living a productive life has to deal with. If you have risen above the humdrum of living and working just to get by, and have truly begun building a meaningful career and a purposeful life, you will often find yourself wishing you had more hours in your day. This is as true for the manager as it is for the full-time domestic engineer.

However, there is a better way. By embracing one simple yet effective concept, you can get rid of the “wasted day” feeling. This concept is known as the MIT- Most Important Task.

Even if you are not a fan of lists, do yourself a favour; identify the one thing you absolutely must get done each day. When you’ve written it clearly, do it FIRST. Resist the temptation to do some other task before that, no matter how simple that task may be, because it’s easy to get lost in all the craziness of the day. When you succeed in getting your MIT out of the way, no matter how the rest of the day goes, whatever else doesn’t pan out, you can go to bed comforted by the knowledge that you made your day count for something important. It’s an empowering feeling that gives you the strength to wake up and face another day.

By taking this simple step, you not only get an essential task out of the way, you also set the tone for the rest of your day.

It is impossible to round off a work day with a sense of accomplishment if you let your day control you. Control your day. Don’t just let life happen to you; take the reins, seize the day. Live life deliberately, on purpose.

The MIT concept is about priorities. When you get your priorities straight every day, you get them straight every week, and every month. The result? A year well spent achieving important goals. It’s as simple and effective as that.



7 Things Standing Between You and Your Dream Job

1. Your resume is hurting you

When it comes to the “objective” section of your CV, avoid a one-size-fits-all cluster of sentences. You should always tailor your objective to suit each job you’re applying for. If your resume objective has nothing to do with the position, why should the recruiting executive waste time reading it? If you’re unsure of what to say, just take out the objective altogether. It seldom helps, usually hurts, and more often than not takes up valuable space that could be better used to showcase your accomplishments.

Most importantly, your resume should answer one key question; “Why should we hire you instead of any other applicant?” In other words, “What can you bring to the table that someone else can’t?”

2. You don’t use your cover letter to your advantage

A cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself; don’t waste it by sending the same letter over and over again. It takes longer to individualize one, but tailoring your cover letter to a specific opening is going to open doors which your resume alone might not be able to; placing your application in the tiny fraction of those that stand out and immediately go to the top of the pile.

Also, if you want to talk about your career objective and how this position fits in with it, instead of adding an “objective” section in your resume, use the cover letter for that.

3. You’re not honest during interviews

Searching for the right job is like dating; present a false front, and disillusionment in the near future is almost guaranteed. If you approach interviews as if your only goal is to win a job offer, you will most likely keep ending up in the wrong job. Being honest about your abilities and interests, and giving your potential employers a glimpse of the real you, will help them make an informed decision about how suitable the job is for you, and how well you would perform. Inasmuch as you need more money, cash should not be what drives your job hunt. Letting the promise of higher income blind you to the realities of the job you’re applying for, is setting yourself up for failure, as is hiding the truth about your strengths and weaknesses.

In fact, far from making you appear perfect; being unable to identify your weaknesses actually shows a lack of insight and self-awareness, both of which are absolutely necessary for personal growth and career advancement.

4. Potential employers can’t feel your enthusiasm.

It’s true that calling earlier than the date they said they’d get back to you, calling more than once a week, sounding like you’re eager to take any job as opposed to this one in particular, or generally appearing as if this is the only option you have, reeks of desperation and is counterproductive to your job search. However, expressing genuine interest in the job- by letting the hiring manager know you would really love to work for this company, for instance, or asking about the hiring timeline- is actually healthy. Potential employers are looking for passionate employees; indifference, real or feigned, is not attractive.

5. You’re overqualified, and you neglect to address it.

Like the proverbial elephant in the room, the degrees, certifications and years of experience that make you overqualified for a job are very obvious to you and every hiring manager who looks at your CV. Failure to acknowledge it will only send a wrong message. Potential employers may worry that you won’t find the job interesting or challenging enough. They may also be concerned that the salary will be too low for you, or even think that you don’t understand the position.

If you’re certain that this is the job you truly want regardless of your qualifications- the one that will have you springing out of bed on Monday morning- you need to state it loud and clear. Your interviewer needs to hear reassuring affirmations such as “I want to move into this industry, and I’m aware that I need to start at a lower level in order to do that.”  Or, “At this stage in my career, having a job I enjoy is more important to me than salary. I have no problem earning less than I have in the past.”

6. The references you’ve listed are wrong for you, or for the job

References are not “people who care about me the most”. Your pastor, cousin and best friend, unless they’ve related with you in a professional capacity, can’t really help your job search much. Instead, go for people who are familiar with, and can answer questions about, your professional abilities and strengths, as well as your work ethic.

7. You simply do not have enough experience yet

Sometimes, you just have to pay your dues. And that’s not a bad thing. The experiences and skills you pick up from other jobs may just be what make the dream job all the more perfect when you finally clinch it. So keep working.

Good luck!