Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations: What’s the difference, anyways?

Making the decision about what you want to study can be difficult, and it’s even more challenging when you don’t understand the difference between your options. Like, isn’t marketing and advertising basically the same thing? Is strategic communication just public relations or just advertising? 

We’ve been there, which is why we’ve created this quick guide to help you better understand what each specialty includes and what types of jobs you may have after completing your studies.



Simply put, Advertising is a means of communication to consumers about a product, idea  or service, but the industry as a whole is much more. 

Advertisers can work in a variety of roles, both creative and analytical. There are people who create the advertisements you see, and also people who decide where you are seeing them and how. All of these roles, from copywriter and art director to marketing analyst, fall under Advertising. Here at University of Texas there are three optional tracks students can take advantage of both at the Undergraduate and Graduate level; Texas Immersive, Texas Creative, and Texas Media and Analytics.  While a track is not required, it gives students a unique experience to help decide which kind of Advertising role would suit them. 

Potential Careers in Advertising include:

  • Copywriter
  • Account Director
  • Art/Creative Director
  • Social Media Director
  • Media Director
  • Promotions Manager



Compared to the other disciplines discussed, Marketing is much more of a broad term as it encompasses other subtopics such as digital marketing, advertising, sales and more. 

Marketers help the firm discover and exploit new technological and market opportunities and create strong brands and loyal customers in the ever-shifting competitive landscape. Marketers rely heavily on data to measure results, adjust product development and messaging, and provide new products and services to customers based on that feedback. 

UT offers Marketing at both the Undergraduate and Graduate level.

Potential Careers in Marketing:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Brand & product marketing
  • Management and marketing consulting
  • Customer insights & marketing analytics
  • Retailing & e-tailing
  • Business development & sales


Public Relations:

Public Relations is known as the strategic communication process that maintains a brand’s image and reputation. Roles in Public Relations have the same goal in mind, but there are many different roles and industries that utilize people in Public Relations. 

Because so many brands and organizations need a voice in Public Relations, the potential industries for this career are endless. You could work for an agency that helps many different brands with their Public Relations needs, or even in politics. Within Public Relations the possibilities are endless. To view all the areas of studies offered by the University of Texas at Austin School of Advertising and PR, click here

Potential Careers in Public Relations: 

  • Social Media Manager
  • Lobbyist
  • Public Affairs Manager
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Public Information Officer
  • Community Relations
  • Community Engagement and Management
Peyton Hammond