Advertising vs PR

I’ve seen a lot of new adverts this week, and it’s really got me thinking about the value of advertising as opposed to PR. We live in a world where advertising surrounds us constantly. Whether its banners on the side of the road, adverts on the TV, posters on public transport, pieces in magazines…everyone knows why companies and services advertise: to promote, inform and inspire and, ultimately, sell.

Everyone recognises that advertising costs, too, but companies are prepared to pay because they know its value; publicity leading to an increase in profit. Advertising is a great publicity tool, but the best publicity is continual, rather than one-off adverts with no follow up. With advertising, this can get really quite pricey, and sometimes it’ll be tricky to maintain the publicity.

What about messaging – can you really believe everything you read/see/hear? Some consumers may be sceptical about what they see advertised. I know I can be – largely because I’ve bought stuff based on promises made in adverts, and the products haven’t measured up; the danger of over-promising and under-delivering. Consumers know that wherever the advert is, it’s been paid for, which can minimise the validity and power of the message communicated.

PR offers you a cheaper, more valid and longer lasting solution. Sure, if you’re outsourcing your PR efforts, this does cost. But by a company investing in PR long term, they can build their profile in their sector or community to have more impact, and the value received will far outweigh the costing.
PR can get you places where advertising can’t, especially when your budget isn’t never-ending. When looking for advertising, you could be bidding against some big companies with big budgets, so you’ll have more competition. With PR, if your story is interesting and relevant to the feature, then you’re much more likely to get publicity. Your competition is limited to companies that are relevant, not those that can boast big money.

PR may also secure opportunities for next time, too. Journalists will learn more about you via liaison for the feature, so are more likely to remember you.

Now, don’t get me wrong, advertising is a great tool for publicity and also works well with PR. It gets you noticed and, if done correctly and regularly, can build a profile. But remember, you don’t have to shed out big bucks for publicity – PR is definitely worth looking into for longer lasting, better value and more effective publicity. And you don’t have to choose PR or Advertising – when balanced, they can work really well together!