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In Relation to PR

July 14, 1985

The lead sentence of Helen Desmond's review of "The Language of Advertising" (Book Review, June 16) had no connection with the rest of her effort--or, indeed, with the subject of the book as indicated in its title.

Having stated a premise about what "a good PR firm" can do, she never mentions public relations again--discussing, instead, various facets of advertising.

As a retired newspaperman and practicing magazine writer who also sandwiched in a decade of major company public relations, I have to jump to the conclusion that clinical psychologist Desmond may not know the differnce between public relations and advertising and assumes they are the same thing. If so, she's certainly not alone.

The difference between ads and PR, oversimplified for brevity:

Advertising is a message--usually a sales pitch--paid for by the inch or minute, which customarily is run or aired verbatim, as prepared by the purchaser or his/her advertising department or agency. You deal with the medium's advertising department.

Public Relations, in its many forms, is aimed (gratis) at the news department, providing what you hope is intereting news about your client or the client's product, goal, cause, etc. The subject matter may range from serious and dry to frivolous and entertaining, but its use is premised on its value as news, or as an interesting angle on a story already in the news.


San Marino

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