PR vs Advertising
Why Public Relations Often Surpasses Advertising as a Marketing Tool
In a perfect world, nonprofits, small companies and other organizations seeking to make a name for themselves and get noticed in our media-saturated world would be able to afford both public relations and advertising. However, when budgets are short, many companies choose to allocate many more of their dollars to public relations. Here’s why:
Financial considerations: Public relations is cost effective, while advertising is often prohibitively expensive.
According to expert sources, as many as 60 percent of the stories consumers are exposed to through print and broadcast media, as well as on the Internet, are generated by public relations. Through a skillful public relations campaign, including an effective media effort, small organizations can create excitement and buzz in a way that advertising usually can’t accomplish – particularly if ad dollars are small and frequency isn’t maintained.
Media outlets are looking for great stories, and great PR campaigns can help deliver this valuable commodity. It’s a win-win. “They want good stories. They aren’t paid to say ‘no.’ They’re paid to say ‘yes’ to the right stories,” said Michael Levine, author, about members of the media, in his book, “Guerrilla P.R.”
Although full-page ads or 30-second TV spots can grab attention, if they aren’t repeated again and again, they simply don’t create lasting impressions. On the other hand, PR is more subtle. And because it’s unpaid – unlike an ad in a magazine, for example – public relations messages usually carry added credibility. Advertising messages often are viewed more skeptically by consumers; whereas editorial messages tend to be taken more seriously. A public relations effort usually offers a more valuable opportunity to educate consumers, to draw them in. You might say it paves the way to help maximize advertising’s effectiveness, but advertising alone cannot substitute for a lack of meaningful public relations.
Many recent brand successes in the marketing arena credit public relations − rather than advertising − for their success. Al Ries, bestselling author of “The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR,” points to the marketing success stories of Starbucks, Red Bull, Harry Potter, The Body Shop and Google, among others, to support the overriding importance of public relations.