by Mike Bawden, President & CEO
It’s no secret that both public relations (PR) and advertising offer unique benefits when employed correctly. And, when working together, the two practices can build awareness, boost brand value and drive sales. Some of our most successful campaigns stem from a strong relationship between our PR team and advertising agency partners.
To contrast the two, PR earns media coverage through strategic outreach to journalists while advertising is a controlled message placed in paid-for space. Both practices work to influence the behavior of consumers by swaying opinion, calling consumers to action, etc., but the tactics used to gain results and meet goals couldn’t be more different.
Unfortunately, PR tends to be overlooked during the planning stages of some marketing campaigns because many don’t fully understand the benefits. And, if PR isn’t overlooked all together, many times key decision makers don’t quite understand how it works or worse, don’t understand how to measure a PR campaign’s success (common measurements include impressions, number of placements and types of placements).
The primary goal of any PR campaign, no matter how large or small, is to build relationships. Through these relationships, we’re able to secure stories, build momentum and create opportunities for brands, be it a person, organization, product or service. Before launching any PR campaign, it’s important to outline measures of success to fairly evaluate the benefits as well as manage expectations both internally and externally.
So what sort of benefits can you expect from a well-planned PR campaign?
Affordability. When compared to advertising, PR is an economical way to stay in front of consumers and works to build brand loyalty. With PR you are paying for time required and minimal out-of-pocket expenses in order for your agency to develop relationships on your company’s behalf. With advertising, not only do you need to pay your agency for the time required to create the ads, but you’re also paying the media outlets to run your ads.
Credibility. PR professionals pitch story ideas to reporters and because the journalist vets the story first, it becomes more unbiased than advertising. In contrast, consumers generally understand that an advertisement means that the company provided the messages and is therefore approached with some level of skepticism. News stories aren’t typically viewed with as much cynicism.
Visibility. By implementing a PR campaign, you can affordably increase search engine optimization (SEO) and organic results as well as repeat exposure for the same story through media coverage. You can achieve similar results through advertising, but because that visibility is paid for, the costs are great.
Value. PR results are tied to placements secured, conversations started. The value comes from those third-party endorsements that we work to nurture and develop on a client’s behalf.
Relationships. PR builds relationships with journalists and consumers on behalf of your organization by sharing information. Further, PR creates loyalty through dialogue that take place via tactics such as social media and events.
Details. Because PR coverage typically results in more space and time for information sharing, consumers are exposed to more details about your company’s product or service. This, coupled with established credibility, allows consumers to freely take in information from unbiased sources to ultimately make an educated decision for themselves. PR and advertising can easily complement one another by pushing the same key messages via varied channels.
Legitimacy. By launching a PR campaign, you’ll see regular media exposure that typically results in enhancing and legitimizing your reputation. As consumers see increased, positive media coverage, they’ll begin to look at your brand in a favorable light.
Position. Through PR, you can tell your side of the story and be seen as an expert within your industry. By working with a PR firm, they can train you on how to work with journalists, ultimately assisting you with interview styles, key messages and on-camera confidence. Once established as an expert, many times journalists will seek to interview you on other industry topics as new opportunities arise, allowing you to further solidify your authority.
Timely. Because fewer people are involved in developing and pitching a story in PR, advertising campaigns typically require more time to plan and execute. Messages secured via PR, more times than not, will appear much faster when compared to advertising. In addition, PR and advertising can work together to prolong messages presented in the media
When used correctly, PR can be a valuable marketing tool benefiting your brand position and bottom line. PR is not the only answer to a strong marketing campaign, but it is an important practice to employ in order to build strong brand credibility, legitimacy and value.