Many people often confuse public relations with advertising. There is the common belief that “paid” media and “earned” media are different, but in many cases, both types of media are the same. Here are are few notable concepts where the lines are blurred between a PR firm and an ad agency.
Paid vs. Free
With an ad, be it digital or traditional, the company pays for the ad space which can be expensive. Having just one ad is of no use unless you are advertising during the Super Bowl, so there is the frequency aspect of advertising which requires your ads getting shown to your end user periodically. An old rule from the 60s and 70s when TV advertising was in its heyday, researchers developed the “three-plus” rule stating that an ad must be run at last three times in front of a viewer to make an impact. But make sure of the brand as well before promoting the ad in the publication.
By hiring a PR firm, your business gets free publicity through “advertisements” via the newspaper, press releases, and good relationships with the media. From hiring a PR firm, your brand gets a positive endorsement for and is positioned as a trend rather than just as a promotional activity. The media placement done by a PR firm is referred to as “earned” media.
Influencing The Message vs. Controlling The Message
In the context of an ad, the customers can be skeptical because they know that the company has paid for it and the company is showing their product exactly how they want their product to look. When one hires a PR firm, that company doesn’t know what is going to be published, but generally the content published is positive in nature. The company just provides an overall narrative of the brand to the publisher and then it is up to the publisher to decide how to present the story that best shows the product to influence his or her audience.
At Cooperatize, we believe there is a balance between your brand controlling the message and having the blogger or publisher tell the story.
A 10 Second Spot vs. Perpetuity On The Internet
For most advertising formats, there has been a lot of innovation around the delivery and optimization of your brand’s creative. While this allows for a quick blast of your message, your brand is still “renting” the ad space from a given medium. From a PR firm’s perspective, when a company is promoted via an article in the newspaper, magazine, or blog, the message gets more publicity because of the longer shelf life. One can search for an article on Google and it stays there forever.
Marketing Research vs. Media Research
In an advertisement, one needs to find the right niche audience to sell the product and gain good publicity. This is Marketing Research. In the case of a PR firm, one needs to get in the shoes of the reporters and collect all the information about potential media outlets and reporters to ensure your brand reaches the right audience. These days, social media provides a lot of information about which outlets are writing content in-line with your brand’s vision and message. Regardless, Marketing Research and the demographics of where your brand’s message will be published are important.
While this is not an exhaustive list, these are general concepts we believe make advertising and PR very similar beasts. Reaching out to blogs straddles the line between the two activities, but we believe both ad agencies and PR firms should work together when working with bloggers to promote a given message!