Public Relations or Advertising?
So, you’ve got this fantastic product or service – and you want everybody to know about it. But you are not sure how to get your message across to the general public or specific audiences. You’ve asked yourself the question Public Relations or Advertising?
The relative impact and objective of each are very different. Public relations can benefit over time from—and is designed to work in conjunction with—advertising and specific marketing initiatives.
One major and obvious factor that differentiates advertising from public relations is that advertising is paid placement. Public relations, on the other hand, is free editorial placement. Public relations campaigns leverage the power of the media to promote your business and products to the general public. The difference between the two rests in your ability to weigh the benefits of a PR campaign against the benefits of traditional advertising.
If a newspaper or magazine decides that your product is article worthy, you will enjoy publicity with no out of pocket costs to the media. The media outlets themselves bear the expense of air time or print space because in their eyes, they are reporting a newsworthy item to their viewers or readers.
There is a myth which says the media will most likely only run your story once. Not true. An expert PR consultant can ensure that the story can be spun into new angles. A great story can snowball. Imagine getting nationwide or international exposure, absolutely free. This can be done by issuing a well written press release, writing a feature placement or pitching a story that appeals to the editor.
Writing a press release is usually accompanied by the essential key messages, FAQs, a company profile, a fact sheet with succinct information, your Biodata etc – all packed together in a Media Kit (file folder) which is then presented to the journalist. Sending off a well-written press release with the right information has a lot of advantages. It can dramatically increase your sales, expose your company to the masses, and greatly enhance the image of your business or products.
You also have content control over what is published contrary to the myth. The journalist that takes on the assignment or decides to interview you may have all the say in the length, word choice, and format of what is being reported about your product or service. But an expert PR consultant can help you spin the story so that the information is presented in a fair and accurate manner.
The expert PR consultant is also able to prepare the client for an interview by pre-empting many of the questions to be expected from the journalist. In some cases, the PR Consultant can even ask the journalist the questions in advance. At times the journalist may not provide specific questions but the PR consultant will be told that the interview will hover around a certain topic, making it easy for the PR Consultant to pre-empt the questions.
Be honest with yourself: How many times have you seen an advertisement in a magazine or a newspaper and you show skepticism about the product's reliability? Advertising is all about the hype but is there any truth in it? Even if it’s all true, how would anyone know if there’s no third-party endorsement?
When you read an article about a product – say for example, a new luxury car or a computer - in a printed media source, you are usually more inclined to think that the product is trustworthy especially if it has been reviewed by a journalist. So are you going to belief the advertiser word by word or would you prefer a third-party endorsement from a journalist? Readers trust independent authority figures including reviewers, columnists, journalists and broadcasters.
An article about your business has far more credibility than an advertisement ever could have. The article carries more information and depth, and everything you wanted to know has already been answered in that article. This is public relations. It takes the value of advertising and builds upon it based on enhanced impact. Editorial is third-party opinion, so the impact is considered three times that of a paid advertisement.
Khaled Talib, Managing Director , Newsline Communications