If there is one question we get asked at the Garden Media Group all the time it is: What is the difference between advertising and public relations?
In advertising, the product does all the talking. You are being subtlety (or not so subtlety) “manipulated and persuaded” to buy whatever it is they are selling. You've seen paid ads and by now, know the language of advertising.
In this 21st Century of information overload, advertising is like wallpaper. We are so bombarded with ads that we don't notice them anymore. We don't hear them, we seldom click on them, and we don't remember them - unless they are really awesome or it's 'our' brand.
In public relations, it's a trusted source doing the talking and people take notice of what people they know and follow say.
We read PR generated "news and reviews" all the time. We follow our favorite blogger and take a vested interest in their product likes and dislikes. And sometimes, a PR person was involved in making the news happen. It's still magic.
What makes PR trust so powerful is that you can't buy it. You have to earn it. You can't influence when a great story about you or your product is going to run or where it is going to appear. You have no say in exactly what is going to be printed, what's going to be said or how it's going to be presented. Your product has to authentically stand out. In other words, unlike advertising, you have no control.
It’s this lack of control that makes PR so powerful. People trust what they read in the paper, hear on TV or read on the Internet. The message is far more persuasive and is remembered longer than an advertisement, and it gives you instant credibility and makes your reputation soar and -- sales go up.
Public relations makes customers like you and your product, and I mean really like it, not just on Facebook, even though that is a form of PR, too. And we all like to buy from people we know, like and trust.
All in all, PR is a better bang for your marketing buck. Of course, advertising is beneficial, but studies show that for businesses in the $10 to $20 million range, PR is the most efficient use of your marketing budget. Dollar for dollar, the value of a news story is worth 10 times that of a paid advertisement.
According to Wilson Harrell, former publisher of Inc. magazine, "One idea from a good PR firm can be worth several times what you'll pay in advertising and promotion. Astute PR brings out strengths you never knew your company possessed." He went on to say that entrepreneurs get so caught up in sales and advertising that they forget how much can be accomplished with "the most effective and least expensive of all marketing tools: public relations."
Advertising and public relations should work hand-in-hand, but they aren’t always in the marketing mix together.
So when dividing up the marketing pie, save a piece for public relations.