Like Spaghetti and Meatballs?

So, what are you majoring in? Why did you choose that? What do you think you’ll do when you graduate? What kind of job could you get with that?

I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard these questions, especially when I’m home from school entertaining my parents’ dinner guests. Don’t get me wrong; I am passionate about what I’m studying, and I appreciate people who make an effort to act like they care. However, the reactions I get to my response of “I’m majoring in public relations and advertising” aren’t always the most glamorous. By the looks on the guests’ faces, you’d think I just told them my mom was serving tuna with their spaghetti for dinner.

I’ve received criticism from some people who have essentially concluded that I am paying to learn the art of deception. Others have told me that they think PR and advertising are completely contradictory. Little do they know, PR can really add the meatballs to advertising’s spaghetti. A weird analogy? Maybe. Accurate? Yes. (I know the preceding fragments are not AP style because they are not complete sentences. However, I would like to include it in my blog post.) In my opinion, when public relations and advertising work hand-in-hand, an instant “zing” of flavor is added into the mix. That “zing” is called success.

Advertising and public relations are both

  • Marketing tools
  • Forms of communication
  • Means of helping a company or organization succeed




Here is one way advertising can help PR.

With advertising, you are given creative control. Advertisers pay for the space they are given and thus have the ability to control what goes into the advertisement. With public relations, it is difficult to have any control over how the media chooses to present the information you give them. There are certain tactics in PR such as social media, websites and brochures that are controlled. However, the media has no obligation to publish a news release or cover a specific event if that is the only material you are giving them.

Here is one way PR can help advertising.

When I see advertisements, no matter where they are placed, I automatically recognize that someone is trying to sell me something. For some people, this concept is irritating. Consumers are very aware, and they do not always view advertisements in the best light. This is where PR comes in. If I am reading an article written by a third-party about a particular product or service, or if I see coverage of an event on television, there is a good chance I will view it in a positive light because it is not coming straight from the company who is trying to get my money. This kind of coverage helps generate credibility for the client that an advertisement alone may not be able to produce.

Laura Ries, co-author of the book “The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR,” recognizes that advertising agencies often need PR to get recognition. “Any company can run an advertisement, but with PR there are no guarantees,” she states. “You can hire an agency, host an event, run a contest, pay a celebrity, launch a website, pitch reporters and bloggers alike and sometimes the media doesn’t cover it, nobody notices it, nobody tells their friends or hits the “like” button on Facebook.”





Innate issues and simple solutions:

  • Advertising struggles to keep a small budget. PR is very good at getting free press coverage.
  • Advertising struggles to maintain consumer trust. PR helps gain third-party credibility.
  • PR struggles to control the messages that third parties put out into the media world. Advertising can choose when and where to place the message.

Freddy J. Nager of Atomic Tango LLC summarizes the partnership of advertising and public relations perfectly. “They complement each others’ strengths and mitigate weaknesses, with the publicity providing the credibility while the advertising creates the buzz.”

Why argue about why “advertising is more efficient” or why “PR is more effective?” In the end, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Both of these fields have their strengths and weaknesses, but if the two can work together, they have the potential to create something outstanding.

More resources related to integrated campaigns:

Russell Shaw discusses six successful integrated campaigns.

Jack In The Box hired Vons to create an integrated campaign that curved weight of tragedy.

Kraft’s “Huddle to Fight Hunger”campaign ended up exceeding expectations by a long shot.


Atomic Tango LLC

Young Company



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