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Advertising and PR: Is There an Underdog?

By Jason Mudd

According to statistics from PRSA and eMarketer, public relations specialists don’t get anything close to the same respect as advertising professionals. Advertisers draw in around $150 billion annually, with public relations firms pulling in $5 billion.

In terms of salary, people working in the advertising industry make about 75 percent more than public relations professionals. Does this mean the public relations industry is less respected than advertising? Possibly; and it’s more likely that a widespread misunderstanding of the outcomes associated with public relations is the driving force.

Creating a new understanding of how PR changes organizations’ futures could begin at the educational level. Yet only about 20 percent of programs for masters of business administration, for example, have courses involving public relations training. In contrast, advertising courses are offered in about 70 percent of MBA programs.

So why doesn’t PR get as much play as advertising?

1. While results from PR campaigns are shown to be effective and long-lasting, gathering results from campaigns can take months and multi-faceted analysis. CEOs have mentioned that the impact PR had on the bottom line was difficult to track. PR professionals are excellent at getting a company positive coverage in the media, and exactly how that affects profits may remain elusive to management. However, the effects of PR are more measurable than ever before, including tools to see exactly how much, and where, an article has been viewed, liked and/or shared.

2. Some journalists may not yet realize the true value of pitches and professional content received from PR professionals. Because PR pros can achieve strong relationships with journalists, many have begun to learn that good story ideas can be derived from PR sources – and these messages may still get lost in a full inbox. A shift is taking place, however, as many newsrooms now employ team members with PR experience and roles (and vice versa) to create strong earned news coverage and effective reputation management campaigns.

3. While PR strategies make strong and impactful gains on the brand image of a company, these gains may be lost within other more immediate wins, like reactions from a short-term ad campaign or a social media event. PR may be receiving a smaller portion of the applause pie because it’s efforts are, in many cases, best reaped over steady, targeted campaigns that can create serious brand growth over years.

What can PR pros and public relations firms do to even the field? Keep doing what they’ve always done. Provide high-quality, strategic and audience-driven messages that are able to cut through the message clutter and make a real impact on how consumers think about a brand or a company. They can do this today even better with social media tools – the hallmark of reputation management – which creates the ideal playing field for the attributes of smart PR to shine. The immediate feedback of social media, and the opportunity to create and manage relationships across all facets of a company or brand, creates a unique and excellent environment for PR strategies to flourish. PR pros can also work even more diligently to build high-value relationships with journalists and other sources, like top bloggers, so that their messages aren’t overlooked. This may require some extra effort, and the payoff is definitely worth it for both the PR firm and their client.

Wondering how PR can cause a serious shift in your brand and reputation? Contact Axia Public Relations. We’ve got years of experience and success that comes from applying the smart strategies of PR to modern messaging tools.

by Jason Mudd, APR

Jason Mudd, APR, is the CEO of Axia Public Relations and an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles and Verizon.

Topics: public relations

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