Wednesday, December 11, 2013

“Why invest in PR?”

A frequent question we receive from clients is, “Why invest in public relations when I can just buy ads instead?” We are often challenged to define the value of public relations and its influence on consumers. For businesses outside of the marketing world, it can be difficult to recognize how a magazine ad can have a different influence than a magazine article or how a television appearance can have a different influence than a television commercial. Here is some insight on how public relations differs from advertising and how it is important to a growing brand:
Paid vs. Earned - While both public relations and advertising aim to influence consumers and increase interest in a brand, they apply two different methods. A simple way to differentiate the two is to understand that advertising is paid media, whereas PR is earned media. Advertising consists of paid placements on websites, in print, on television, or on radio. Public relations achieves media coverage through pitching newsworthy stories to journalists.  
Credibility - Public relations provides credibility through the point of view of an unbiased journalist. Advertising is more likely to be viewed with skepticism because it is a paid-for message. According to a study conducted by Nielsen, a staggering 92% of consumers say they trust earned media above any form of advertising. With earned media, readers view a brand as part of a story, as opposed to being directly promoted in an advertisement, which is proven to be significantly more influential.  
Think of a new restaurant opening in your town. What would have a greater influence on you making a reservation, a commercial displaying the restaurant’s amazing food and ambiance or an article by someone outside of the restaurants referring to it at the greatest dining experience they had ever had? Most people would agree that an outsider’s point of view would have a greater influence ton their decisions. 
Longevity - In addition to being more persuasive, earned media has greater longevity. In the digital world, a written article, television appearance, or blog post can have an indefinite existence online. Online media also has a direct effect on search engine optimization. Digital content can be shared by other journalists, bloggers and by social media users at no cost to the company. Unlike earned media, a business must pay for the continual display of an advertisement. 
Actively Viewed - Another important distinction between the two is that consumers actively receive PR generated information.  The audience makes the decision to view, listen or read the story. Advertising is a one-way form of communication. Consumers have the option to skip or simply ignore an unwanted ad. According to the guardian, 86% of viewers skip over television commercials.
Not to say advertising is not valuable and effective. A tearjerker television commercial for a children’s hospital or a print ad featuring a stunning model wearing the latest trends can certainly influence consumers. While advertising is much more expensive than public relations, many companies chose to advertise because it is a more straightforward approach that allows complete creative control over the message.

Overall, public relations is an excellent tool to establish a relationship of trust and communication with consumers. Campaigns that combine effective advertising with strong public relations efforts will build and maintain a favorable brand identity.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for explaining the difference between advertising and public relations. Adveertising is generally paid media, while PR is earned media. Good post.