Advertising and public relations are important marketing tools; knowing the difference can help businesses reach their target market and achieve their objectives.
Advertising and public relations can be exceptionally good at reaching the masses and helping a brand or organisation get the word out. However, before you dive into any advertising or PR campaign, make sure you know enough of each industry’s strengths and weaknesses. Often times, these two industries, although entirely different, are commonly confused as being one and the same.
Considering all the time and energy that has gone into pitching everything under the sun from razor blades, washing detergent and even medical supplies, you would think someone would have answered the age-old question by now – Which is better, advertising or public relations? The answer is entirely dependent on what you want to achieve. Advertising and PR have decidedly different benefits, and each contributes differently to your company’s communication goals.
Some useful tips to help you which way to go:
1. Review your Budget: A large portion of the budget for an advertising campaign will be spent on ad space. Ad agencies also charge for concept development, copywriting and creative work such as graphic design, filming and editing. On the other hand, a PR agency works to gain free publicity for its client. A PR campaign budget usually goes towards the creation of a compelling story through media pitches, press releases and events and ongoing media liaison.
2. Creative Control: Ad space is paid for and with the help of an ad agency, companies can take the wheel to maintain full control of an ad’s content and exactly when and where it will appear. With public relations, once a media release or pitch is distributed, PR agencies are limited in the amount of control they have over the way media outlets use the information or if they choose to use it at all. Even the best media release can be bumped off for a bigger story. However, a PR professional can help you navigate through the white noise of news and get your story heard.
3. Media Exposure: Big budgets allow companies to run ads for as long as they wish. The downside is that seeing the same ad can become repetitive and ineffective, as consumers do not stand to gain any new information. A media release, on the other hand, can be distributed to many different media outlets. Although news has a relatively short shelf life, it is possible for a media release to sit an editor’s file until it can form part of a bigger story. The key takeaway is that consumers may see the same product or service in different context over a period of time.
4. Reaching your target audience: Consumers know when they’re reading an ad that they are being sold a product or service. It’s very rare for people to actively seek out ads unless they are looking for something in particular. From a PR standpoint, a story covered about a service or product carries more credibility. If presented correctly and in an informative medium, people are more likely to take notice of a company’s key messages, even if it’s only on a subconscious level.
5. Content Style: Advertising campaigns rely heavily on creativity, catchy slogans and eye catching graphics to attract consumers’ attention while PR campaigns require a nose for news. With a comprehensive understanding of the media, PR agencies exercise creativity by crafting captivating, factually correct stories that educate readers about a product, service or company.
Executing Your Campaign
Compared to advertising, public relations is a more subtle, disciplined approach with the aim of influencing public opinion and behaviour. It is the foundation that builds name recognition and brand trust. With it, future advertising can succeed to greater heights. Think of your promotional campaign as a pyramid:
Making that Sale!
Raising Brand Awareness
Advertising and Promotion Campaign
Public Relations Public Relations Public Relations
An advertising or public relations campaign doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. They can and should be used in conjunction with one another to help spread the word about your product or service further.
With proper planning and precise execution, you’ll have no problem in achieving sustained media presence, building credibility and making that sale!