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Icom 203 - Public Relations Essay

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ICOM 203 - Essay

Public relations and advertising are inter-related with each other as they are both concerned with the communication of information, therefore sharing a common ground. However, both public relations and advertising share different aims and approaches. ‘While PR and advertising have distinct identities and purposes, they are branches of the same family’ (Thompson, 2004). Advertising has a main aim of changing the behaviour and attitudes of an audience and focuses on a one-way communication method highlighting persuasion. While public relations has a main aim of providing mutually beneficial relationships between the organisation and public with a focus on two-way communication.

Advertising is the ‘non-personal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media’ (Coe et al., 1984). This definition highlights how advertising has a heavy reliance on funded information as organisations need to pay for nearly every advertisement they want to put out to the public. Public relations on the other hand is is ‘the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics’ (, 2017). When looking at the definition of public relations, there is no to little need for paid information. Public relations experts focus on gaining publicity without spending too much money. There is an emphasis on events, shows and interviews to provide awareness and hype about an organisation. When comparing the two, advertisements will provide a longer message compared to a press release. Advertising is very luring and has a much more persuasive nature as an organisation can push an advertisement several times a day to create recall. However, public relations experts need to remain creative and unique with their ideas to create an impact on the target audience.  Public relations plays’ ‘the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between and organisations and the publics on whom its success or failure depends’ (Ledingham & Bruning, 2000).


Advertising is a one-way communication approach which persuades customers to choose a certain product, while public relations has a primary focus on maintaining and building good relationships between the organisation and its stakeholders. When looking at the definitions, another key difference between the both is how advertising is strictly one way, while PR has a two-way communication approach. Advertising places emphasis on promoting a product with a result for the public to buy. However, PR is about creating and maintaining a positive image of the organisation to the public as well as ‘developing long and short term strategies and tactics that advance the organisation while projecting and protecting its reputation and credibility’ (Newsom, 2007).

Public relations can be discussed in relation to four basic models which focus on the way in which approaches are communicated. These four models are divided further in two segments; this includes one way communication and two-way communication. One way communication involves press agentry/publicity and public information while two-way communication focuses on two-way asymmetrical and two-way symmetrical communication.

The Press Agentry/Publicity model’s focus and approach is propaganda. This model has a history which back dates to the 19th century where there were press agents who had a main job of influencing public opinion. These press agents were most of the time deceivers and got themselves out there. This model ‘uses persuasion and manipulation to influence audiences to behave as the organisation desires’ (Waddington, 2012). The model flows through a one-way communication approach and there is no apprehension for any feedback. It also centres on reinforcing the reputation of an organisation and making sure that the target audiences, stakeholders, partners etc. are receiving this communication through manipulation. Information is flowed from the public relations professionals to the target audience trying to alter people’s views and ideas about a brand. It is a one-way communication approach and places no focus on how accurate information may be. This approach does not conduct any sort of market analysis or formal research.

Following with the one-way communication approach, the Public Information Model has a main purpose to inform and distribute information to the public. This model was originated in the 20th century and had a motivation to communicate information in a truthful and accurate way. There is major importance placed on making sure the image of an organisation is maintained and improved by sending out vital information to the target audience through formal research. The main use of media used by public relations processionals include, video/news or press release. This model focuses on making sure information is distributed out to the public regularly for brand recall and positioning. Media forms such as magazines and brochures are normally used and must be created in a unique way to influence customers. (ToughSledding, 2017)

The two-way communication model involves a two-way asymmetrical model which focuses on persuasion and feedback collection. This model is an unbalanced method of a two-way communication model even though both parties are involved. It places major emphasis on public relations experts to position the organisation in a way they would like the public to see it, and manipulate this message to force the target audience to view the message the same way these experts to. These experts are designed to play with the minds of the public and help sell these messages. This further reinforces how it is unbalanced as the main goal is persuasion for the public to buy a message. The model places emphases on these experts to understand how the target audience is behaving and use that information to create a scientifically persuasive strategy. It is a highly used model in the consumer marketing and advertising sector as its focus is persuasion and the gaining of organisations profits. (ToughSledding, 2017)



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