We asked PR and marketing experts Will Public Relations Rule Over Advertising? Does the importance of Public Relations activities rise against billboard ads? What are the reasons for that? Do you experience a shift on how the budgets are spent? Where should be the focus for an authentic brand development? Here are their answers:
Brendan McConnell, Content Consultant at Premium SEO NZ
“I believe that we’re heading towards a convergence between advertisement and PR. That is, that authentic, relatable stories about a brand and product will be the content that advertisers use to hook potential customers. Customers today are savvy. They want to feel a connection to the brands they interact with, and know that it shares their values. In the world of advertising, conversions and results are king. If PR stories are what ‘s bringing in the leads and creating loyalty, then we’ll see a shift toward that style of storytelling over flashy ads and copy.”
Fabiana Meléndez, publicist for Zilker Media, a boutique agency in Austin, Texas:
“Both billboard ads and public relations build brand recognition. In many cases PR efforts can rise to those of billboard ads or other ad spend because you are generating brand awareness by targeting the media outlets where a brands consumers frequent in a way a billboard placed in a high-traffic area will generate leads because it’s place in front of targets.
Brands and leaders of brands should always focus on authentic brand development. As the media landscape shifts, consumers are more likely to be distrustful of brands they perceive to be inauthentic. There are various ways brands can use PR to authentically develop their message and it varies by target audience, product, service, etc.
My general consensus is that public relations can rule over advertising in certain cases. For example, brands pay a significant amount of money for advertising on Facebook and Instagram. However, their advertising algorithms change all the time or you may exhaust your target audience by constantly targeting them in advertisements. By using PR tactics you can get in front of target consumers without exhausting them the same way advertising does. However, PR and advertising will always go hand in hand so it is unlikely that PR will surpass advertising completely.”
Dick Grove, CEO and founder of INK Inc. Public Relations — a virtual PR firm with senior level publicists, former reporters and producers located throughout the nation:
“Anyone with money can advertise. But not everyone with money can attain earned media. That comes down to the story. When a billboard says, “This brand is great” it doesn’t carry the same weight as when a legitimate reporter or producer says “This brand is great.” While flashy artwork or a tight catch phrase might initially capture eyes, we’re all so bombarded with ads that translating that in to revenue is an uphill battle. But a story with context, created by a third-party professional, resonates more deeply with an audience. There’s more trust. And when that connection is formed; brands benefit in a richer way.”
Stephen Lee, Communications Strategy Director at San Francisco Agency in Helsinki Finland:
“Our agency works with companies that have global aspirations to get international visibility. So my observations come from that context and focus on working with journalists to get real and relevant company stories into the press.
We live in a time in which people are overwhelmed with information. As a result, trust has become critical. So the question is, where will we gain our trust in the future?
We all have seen how journalists and publications have been forced to the money towards clicks and Likes to the point of degrading this trust. But more recently, I think that journalism has gotten back on track to be the trusted way we consume media. Consumers of media have been kicked in the ass so hard with fake news that they are forced to become more media literate. So I believe that companies need journalists as part of their influencer network to reach those markets to create awareness and relationships before marketing and ads can do their job.
We have seen in our work how important it is that companies get trusted others to share and talk about them. This talk needs to be shared organically. The best venue for that is journalism. And the ones who can best help both companies and reach out to the journalist can be found within PR firms.”
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO at Mavens & Moguls, a global strategic marketing consulting firm:
“In my experience PR is the single most cost effective thing a brand can do to build their awareness, visibility and credibility. The smaller the budget the more important it is to do PR because advertising is about reach, frequency and volume so if you cannot advertise a lot you will not get noticed or remembered at all so it can be a waste of money. With PR if you get included for instance as one of Oprah’s “favorite things“ (as many of my clients have) that single mention can literally put your brand on the radar and sell out your entire inventory in hours or days. I started my career at places like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola where we had millions of dollars in the budget so there is room for both advertising and PR in addition things like sponsoring the Olympics or Super Bowl. My clients spend the majority of their budget on PR to get the most bang for their buck. If they advertise at all it is highly targeted to a specific audience.
Advertising is referred to as “paid media” because you pay to reserve the space to run an ad on TV, in print, on radio, outdoor, online, etc. You control the message because you create the ad. PR is called “earned media” because the brand gains exposure by sharing information with the media via a press release or direct pitch and cannot control how or whether the information is used. Anyone can pay for it so earning it is best!”
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