Public Relations and Advertising

Public Relations and Advertising

The application of public relations and the use of
advertising are sometimes misunderstood, igniting a series
of unanswered questions for companies needing to create
awareness for themselves.
When do you use public relations? Why should you advertise?
The best answer on both topics is “It depends on what you’re
trying to accomplish.”  Use public relations and advertising
(and marketing) together as well as separately when the
situation calls for it.
Still confused? Don’t fret. You’re in good company.
Shelf Life: TV Commercials and the Press Release
Until recently, TV advertisements have had a shorter shelf
life than a press release archived on the Internet.  For now
this is probably still true, but watch out. New Web sites
are coming online with nothing but commercial content that
would make any ad executive smile.  Corporations are also
posting their commercials on corporate Web sites to extend
the shelf life of their ad dollars.
Obstacles to viewing archived commercials are many. The more
common ones include slow Internet connections, lack of
installed software for viewing, and unless there is an HTML
description about the commercial for search engines to
archive, add inability to find a commercial online to the
list of obstacles. These barriers are coming down quickly as
technology and computer training improves.
Archived press releases and news articles still rank high in
terms of Internet longevity.  Search engines can locate
information (even in PDF format for some) long after the
hype of a press release has waned.  The major obstacle here
is a person without access to the Internet.
Implied Endorsement
No matter how interesting an advertisement might be, it is
recognized as a self-serving communication.  The only
implication here is that someone paid to have a message
filtered directly to a consumer.  There is no third-party
endorsement, no filter before it reaches you.
Public relations affords the credibility of indirect
third-party endorsements. This means you are not paying to
get advertising placed, but a publication is freely giving
space to a story about your company. An endorsement such as
this is a powerful tool in shaping public opinion.
Consumers today are far more cynical than previous
generations, with only a small percent saying they have a
great deal of confidence in advertising messages.  Anyone
can buy visibility, however PR plays a critical role in
sorting out the hype.
Advertising exposure is often proportional to the amount of
money spent on the advertisement. Whether your ad sits on a
billboard overlooking the highway or plays during prime time
television, advertising will consume your budget faster than
a well-positioned, well-written press release.
For small companies, public relations is the better method
for direct and personal communication with a target
audience.  For larger companies with a sufficient budget,
advertising along with public relations may be the right
combination for success.
Message Control
A distinct difference between PR and advertising is their
extent of message control.  When, where, and how an
advertisement runs is quite controllable. Ad space purchased
in the right format (i.e. broadcast, radio, print, online,
sky writing, floating barge) means one has inherent control
over what messages are communicated.
Conversely, while the process of creating messages through
public relations is controllable, what occurs after the
message has left the “nest” is often uncontrollable. The
most common uncontrollable factor is whether the media view
your information as newsworthy.  In advertising there is no
question whether your information will be publicized-if the
check cleared, you’re in.
I know what you’re thinking. You want control of the message
from beginning to end so you’ve decided that advertising is
the way to go.  Have you thought about the current shelf
life of an advertisement? What about implied endorsement?


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