Public relations or PR is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. An advertising agency is a service that creates advertising material, contracts for publication space and sometimes undertakes market research on behalf of its clients. Advertising agencies and public relations are commonly confused as being one and the same, however, they're not. Although they share similar goals in concept, they have extremely different strategies.

PR specialists use a variety of tools and techniques to build a relationship with a targeted audience. The press release is one of the most effective PR tools. Information that is communicated as part of a regular radio or television program, newspaper, and other mainstream media, achieves a much bigger impact than advertisements. PR practitioners should be very strategic, assess who their internal and external constituents and audiences are, maintain consistent branding throughout their public relations efforts and design different techniques for each constituent base. Public relations professionals should not choose tactics indiscriminately or pitch news stories to the media as advertisements.

In advertising there is a budget that pays for advertisements to be in circulation. However in public relations, a press release about a news conference or new product can only be submitted once without rotation. Advertisers look for a target audience and advertise accordingly. On the other hand, public relations must have an angle and get editors to use information for an article, run a press release or cover the event. Advertising agencies focus on persuasion and social perceptiveness, like being aware of others reactions and understanding the depth of their reaction.

Although public relations and advertising agencies differ in some ways, the end goal is the same, to promote clients and make them seem successful, relevant, credible and valuable.