What Is the Difference Between a Public Relations & Advertising Degree?

The difference between a public relations degree and an advertising degree lies in the distinct duties each corresponding career field carries. Per the Publicity Club of Chicago website (''www.publicity.org''), the individual degrees have focuses on maintaining image vs. creating image. Schools offering Public Relations degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Differences

Although the phrases 'advertising' and 'public relations' are often used interchangeably, according to the Publicity Club of Chicago (www.publicity.org), the largest public relations membership organization in the country, there are differences between the two. Advertising is focused on the logistics of creating and presenting the face of a brand or product. Prior and during the marketing plan, the public relations (PR) work is what goes on behind the scenes to prop up the image of the brand or product.

Important Facts About Degrees in Public Relations & Advertising

Public Relations Advertising
Degrees Bachelor's and master's Bachelor's and master's
Common Courses Rhetoric, social interaction, political communication, communication technology Marketing, consumer behavior, market research, communication methods and technology, visual arts, photography
Degree Field Public Relations, journalism, communications, business, marketing Advertising, journalism
Online availability Widely available Widely available

Public Relations

PR workers aim to guard the reputations of companies and products. Their job is to establish an ongoing rapport between the company and its consumers, outside of individual commercials or other advertising tools, often through media vehicles like press conferences and press releases. People working in PR can also do television or radio interviews to get a company's message out or to gather feedback from the public. Social media is also becoming increasingly important for PR. Most public relations degree programs include training in research, mass media and marketing research to prepare students for work in the public relations field. Public relations specialists made a median annual salary of $60,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of May 2018.


In contrast, an advertising degree program is more focused on teaching creative promotion and selling prowess for print and video formats. Advertisers have to understand demand and determine the best audience to target. They have to know what designs are inviting or appealing to their target audience and how to develop them. Advertising is also concerned with the costs and circulation of the product, as well as the image of the product. Those who have earned an advertising degree gain the ability to deliver controlled messages through designed, inventive, and engaging ad campaigns. Advertising, promotions and marketing managers had a median annual salary of $132,620, as of May 2018, according to the BLS.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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