by Simone Sauter

If you’re developing a coaching business, you might wonder about the differences between PR and advertising. How will they impact on your business? Is one better than the other? Can PR and advertising work together?

Read on to find out more about the difference between PR and advertising.

Firstly, we need to answer one question…


PR stands for public relations. Public relations is the process through which companies build relationships with media outlets and the public and manage their brand’s reputation. 

PR specialists help companies by building connections with journalists and media outlets, promoting the business to them, and eventually securing media coverage, either in the form of an article, media post or other form of unpaid advertising.

For example, through a PR campaign, a journalist might write an article about your new life/business/etc coaching business. This is what is known as earned media. Rather than paying for the advertising, a journalist gets content for their magazine/blog from writing the article, and their audience will be able to find out more about a business they would be interested in.

One difference between PR and advertising is that PR is what someone else says about your coaching business. PR enables you to reach out to journalists and media figures who are integral to the groups you are promoting to.

Being featured in one of their articles promotes your business for you because journalists and media figures live and breathe the industry. They have a ready-made audience and know exactly what the market wants and needs.

Magazines have a high profile, and a third party endorsement can have an immense impact on your coaching business. When you buy something new, you’re less likely to choose a brand you know nothing about, but if it has been recommended by a friend, you might take that extra step. Imagine if that friend was an expert in the field, and had a wide reader base – imagine the influence that might have. That’s the power of PR.

Having a great PR strategy in place has results, and these results are called publicity.

Publicity is your presence in the media. It is the “buzz” around your brand. To have “publicity” means that you have created awareness around your company, making your brand visible.

A second, more long-term result of a successful coaching PR campaign is a good reputation. You build trust and credibility, which is very important. Customers buy from businesses they trust. In a recent survey, 81% of respondents reported that brand trust was important to their purchase.

Get customers to trust you, and soon they will use your services on autopilot.

So, one difference between PR and advertising is that PR is about building connections with the wider public and managing your brand’s reputation.

To build connections, you need to be seen. And publicity is how you get seen.

If your business is featured in national magazines, your brand will become instantly recognisable. But how does this differ from what advertising offers?


Advertising is a form of paid media, in which you pay for your exposure.

Publicity is called earned media, because you earn it through sharing your story, expertise, or opinion with a journalist, providing them with material for their magazine or blog.

The difference between PR and advertising can also be seen in terms of the time and input required.

There are benefits to paid advertising, and one of these is the level of scaling possible. This means you can put a fixed amount of money into your advertising, and grow the amount of leads and sales in return.

But this requires continuous testing of different strategies to discover what works for your company. This process is not only time consuming, but very expensive.

Many coaches also focus on social media marketing. However, it takes an immense amount of time to build a social media following. It also still relies on what you say about yourself.

Not to mention that you need to understand the right way to engage followers on social media. There’s no guarantee that followers will use your coaching service.

The vast majority of leads come from paid campaigns, which can quickly become expensive. You can also take out advertisements in magazines, but these also don’t come with a guarantee.

Whatsmore, in recent years, advertising has lost a lot of trust in the public eye.

And why is that?

Well, for one thing, advertising follows the consumer everywhere. It’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. When they’re trying to browse the web or scroll their feed, consumers are bombarded with advertisements.

Fact is, we know that when we see an advertisement proclaiming to provide us with help – really, it’s only trying to sell us something. That’s the goal of advertising. And after a while, it grates on our nerves.

This makes it a challenge to build trust via advertising alone. You can have all the experience, all the clientele, all the skills in the world, but advertising is ultimately what you say about yourself.

On the other hand, PR is what others say about you. You should never underestimate a third-party endorsement.

Not to mention, there have been countless advertising scandals over the last few years, including falsely advertising cars as energy efficient, or beauty product ads claiming they give consumers younger skin within days. Or the data harvesting scandals, which have also contributed to suspicion surrounding online advertising.

This isn’t to say that advertising is bad. Traditional advertising can be a great way to find new leads, and it’s a relatively secure way of promoting your coaching business. But many people remain unaware that PR and advertising need to be used together to form a level of trust with consumers.

So, what are your next steps?

Now you know the difference between PR and advertising, so what’s next?

Want to learn more about how to get your coaching business featured in the media? Download my free “3 Million Euro Case Study”, where I share with you my Publicity Rockstar Method. 

I use this method for my own coaching business, and my clients have used it to get featured in media outlets, including Cosmopolitan, Instyle, and Marie Claire. 

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