PR Tips

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Everyone agrees that the use of both advertising and public relations is the most effective way to create awareness and promote you and your business. Few people, however, can distinguish between these two methods of marketing.

Advertising is content which you pay for and control and can most easily measure. It is more “in your face” and is recognized as advertising by the public. But consumer resistance to sales messages is at an all time high. According to a recent study, 59% of consumers feel that most advertising has very little relevance to them. Sixty-one percent feel the amount of advertising in their world is out of control and 69% would gladly explore tools which would help them block or skip over your advertising message.

In the 1950’s advertising was one of the ways to best spend marketing dollars. There were fewer broadcast networks, Most people received their news via radio and newspaper. It was easier to sell products and services due to less advertising clutter, minimal competition and fewer channels in which to reach the consumer.

Today, media fragmentation is the norm-cable, email web, direct marketing; newspapers, magazines, newsletters; ads on candy, buses, car wraps, etc…

Published in 2002, Al & Laura Ries’ book The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR contains some amazing information. In 2002, U.S. advertising expenditures were $244 billion a year or a record 2.5% of the gross domestic product. More astonishing is their assertion that the average television watching person is exposed to 237 commercials or their equivalent in other media per day. As advertising volume has increased, effectiveness goes down until advertising messages have become like wallpaper.

Creativity has become the watchword for advertising agencies; but a creative ad often doesn’t give the information consumers need to make buying decisions-the car ads with beautiful people and beautiful scenery but which one did you see?? To be effective advertising doesn’t need to be creative as much as it needs to be credible.

Public Relations or publicity allows you to tell your story indirectly through third-party outlets, primarily the media. PR has the credibility which advertising does not have today. If you don’t know anything about a new product or service, you are likely to believe everything you read about the subject, especially if it comes from a credible source. Public Relations is free and comes from what people are saying about you and your company. You can control it to the extent that your PR person writes the articles about you, creates the seminar or photo opportunity (for example) and finds the angle the press is interested in. The press, in turn, writes about your company and gives you media exposure which is considered unbiased and more credible than “paid for” advertising. But remember that the press is always looking for what is new, original and creative. PR needs to create that positioning to get “in the news.”

“Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behavior. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between a business and its public.” (The Difference Between Advertising and PR by Renee A. Prejean-Motanky)

Public Relations professionals write press releases; organize news conferences; manage events, seminars and trade shows; act as the client’s spokesperson; train clients in public speaking; help with strategic planning; and write company newsletters. They work for their clients from a variety of angles and job descriptions with the unchanging goal of how to best promote the company’s product or service in the mind of the public.

While every company does not advertise, every business is involved in public relations at some level. The most effective marketing strategies include a mix of advertising and public relations. When public relations is used first to educate the public about your product and the need for it, advertising is much more cost effective and valuable. After building a brand through PR techniques, the brand needs advertising to maintain its position.

Think of these contrasts:

  • PR is the sun. Advertising is the wind.
  • PR is linear. Advertising is spatial.
  • PR uses the slow build up. Advertising uses the Big Bang.
  • PR is verbal. Advertising is Visual.
  • PR is other-directed. Advertising is self-directed.
  • PR is inexpensive. Advertising is expensive.
  • PR is serious. Advertising is funny.

Ideally, for the best bang for the marketing bucks, advertising and public relations should work hand and hand.

For more information on how public relations can work for your business, contact Arlene Schragger at 609-494-9033 or

Some thoughts on how to proceed with the pr/advertising mix and match:

  • Use a complete arsenal of tactics such as direct marketing, hosting targeted events, building communities of interest, invest in marketing and competitor analysis, work in community affairs and build up of media relations.
  • Do micro-campaigns where you target the top x number of prospects instead of the whole world.
  • Continue to advertise but add a call to action within the advertisement, making the purpose of the ad to get someone to call, write or buy immediately.
  • Get creative, but be real. Use humorous or self-effacing messages to reflect your more human side; or warm and fuzzy. Humor increases recall.
  • Create your own uniqueness so you are interesting to the media.

Read other PR Tips.