5 Ways Public Relations is Better than Advertising

By Jason Mudd

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For businesses trying to decide where they should focus their marketing efforts – on advertising or on public relations – here are five reasons public relations is better than advertising.

1. PR is a better investment than advertising.

Placing an ad in a newspaper, magazine or on TV is expensive. Advertising online can be done on a lower budget, but a lower budget will mean fewer impressions. The stories in those same news outlets are the reason the audience views the outlet; they aren’t looking for advertisements. Therefore, the news coverage generated by your public relations firm will represent a return on your investment that can dwarf the ROI of advertising.

2. PR is credible; advertising is not.

We all watch and read the news to be informed of, educated about and entertained by what’s happening in the world. We are passive – if not put off – when it comes to advertising because we know advertisements are built on trying to sell us something. This is why when a news outlet takes a press release or pitch and writes a story, we are more likely to trust and respond to this story than we are to respond to the same information delivered through an advertisement.

Why sponsor the news (advertising or paid media) when you can become integrated into the news (public relations or earned media)?

3. PR has more reach than advertising.

If you put an ad in a print magazine with 4,000 subscribers, you get 4,000 impressions, many of which will ignore the message.

If you write one press release, you can send this same press release to targeted newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations, networks and shows, online news sites and blogs. Once the story is published nationally, local media outlets may pick it up, increasing how much it’s read or heard.

Also, that print article will likely go online and stay online for more than a decade. The print ad won't appear online and will become vapor.

(The same is true for an online advertisement. Once the advertising campaign ends, the ad disappears forever. Online media coverage lasts forever.)

4. PR is more personal than advertising.

Advertising is a form of one-way communication. The purpose of an advertisement is to pitch a product or service, and while it can get a direct reaction from a potential customer, it doesn’t create conversation that can lead to a relationship.

With the use of social media, relationships with customers can be created through responding to customers’ posts and comments on your company Facebook page, or by re-tweeting what customers post on Twitter, making them feel important and giving them a more personal perception of your brand.

5. PR is active while advertising is passive.

Consumers are extremely passive to advertising. With the ability to record TV shows, viewers often fast-forward through the commercials, magazine and newspaper ads are often skipped and online ads often go unnoticed.

With a good article placed in a magazine or a story shown on a news network, potential customers actively receive the information in the story rather than skipping over it.

In many ways, advertising and public relations compliment each other. One way is that public relations can make advertising more credible. If a story is told through the media about a new product, advertisements can be shown later on, after all the earned media coverage opportunities and corresponding credibility of the product have been established. However, many companies – such as Facebook, Starbucks and Pandora – have established themselves without any advertising at all, which shows how effective good PR can really be.

How do you think Donald Trump made a name for himself – public relations or advertising?

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Topics: Public Relations

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