Advertising says: We’re a great company
PR: News24 says: They ARE a great company
Differences and similarities between advertising and public relations (PR) have long sparked fierce debate as to which discipline is the most effective in interacting with a target market, whilst delivering the highest return on investment.
Advertising and PR differ substantially. Firstly, in the way in which messages are conveyed to the public and secondly, to the extent of control the business has of the communication once it’s been released into the public domain.
When, where and how one’s advertising appears is controllable. Whereas in PR, whilst message creation is controllable, once the news is out there, there’s no turning back. The fact is, viral communication and the internet render a large portion of corporate communication outside the control of the client, or PR agency. Be it positive or negative. But, this is where fame turns to fortune. As Oscar Wilde said “The worst thing than being spoken about, is not being spoken about”
Despite these differences, PR and advertising go together like salt and vinegar in flavouring the perfect marketing mix. They are both vital tools through which to generate and manage public interest and awareness around a brand or service, with the aim of increasing sales.
PR and advertising also engage the same channels of communication ie print, television, radio and the internet.
As such, the combination of the two communication types is extremely powerful. Consumers receive ‘one way’ messages through advertising, but by adding the power of PR, are able to be moved closer to the purchasing decision through interactive calls to action through the media, online articles and social media platforms.
Whereas advertising raises awareness NOW, and shouts the message from the proverbial rooftop, PR amplifies and supports the message over time, and in a variety of ways – with the aim of keeping the communication uppermind.
Well positioned and timed PR increases public exposure to niche target groups while third-party communicators such as bloggers and journalists increase the importance of the brand message via endorsements through blogs, articles and reviews.
Advertising ensures paid for strategic and creative visual exposure while PR secures free editorial exposure based on tailored, timeous, well-written and relevant news around the product or service. The two combine to ensure that consumers not only see the brand advertised on the various advertising media-types, be they TV, cinema, radio, outdoor, print or online, but come across articles online a day later, see a column in their community paper or a link to the company’s Facebook and YouTube through inbound marketing.
PR adds to an advertising campaign and gives it longevity. It also adds credibility.
Whilst advertising can break through the clutter and stop people in their tracks, it is after all only advertising and is seen as “just advertising”. Public relations, on the other hand, has more credibility and is seen to be more believable. In a cynical world, this is important.
By adding credibility to hype, advertisers get more bang from their buck.
That said, if your marketing budget extends to PR, it makes perfect sense to do so. Just make sure you utilise the services of a PR person who has contacts amongst the press, and who lives in the digital space.
There are too many PR companies out there – in my opinion anyway – that are stuck in the 1980’s and do the same tired things over and over. These days, the action is online and digital PR is the way to go. By appointing a young, savvy, go-getting PR person, you can get great coverage at little cost. And your advertising – be it TV advertising, Radio advertising, Cinema advertising, Print Advertising or Outdoor advertising – will be aided in the process.