Why Public Relations is Better Than Advertising
Some of you may be bristling at the headline Why Public Relations is Better Than Advertising as you work in marketing or are more comfortable with traditional advertising. And hey, why not? It’s solid and dependable. You purchase the ad space in your selected medium and create your ad. Instant results as you can see the message you want to share with your audience versus public relations which can take more time.
If only it were that simple. The problem is your audience is getting a lot of information. Not just from your organization but from 1000s more. So much so that large companies are now creating ads that don’t look like ads. Whether it’s partnering with online influencers to endorse a brand or paying people to talk about a movie while riding the subway, there are lots of ways companies are reaching their audience in non-traditional ways.
Don’t get me wrong. There will always be a place for ads. I use Google AdWords and Facebook Ads (to name a few) to promote my website. Maybe you found me through an ad.
But here’s the value of public relations – it is about other people talking about your organization. This can be a simple as a story in the newspaper or television coverage of your event. Or it can be a blogger writing about her/his personal experience interacting with your organization or product.
What’s important is the message isn’t coming from your organization but rather from the audience you are trying to reach. This is a very important difference with public relations and one that takes a lot of skill to accomplish.
Yes, at times you can bang out a press release, hit send, and the media will pick it up. But often there is a bit more work to pitching to the media and having your press release picked up. You can learn more about that in my How to Pitch to the Media guide.
Public relations is about finding ways to share your stories with your audience in a meaningful way. Think about your audience as an individual. What does he/she like? Go to get information? Consume information (visuals, stats, storytelling)? Then figure out the most impactful way to connect with this person.
When I wrote my first book, Bed Rest Mom, I focused on sharing my personal message behind the book versus talking about the book itself. I spoke to mommy bloggers and parenting publications about my personal experience as a mom on bed rest with two high-risk pregnancies. By making it personal and pitching directly to bloggers, websites and publications who shared the same target audience as me, I had a higher success of pick-up.
And when they wrote about Bed Rest Mom, it had far greater value with their readers than if I had simply placed an ad in their publication or on their website.
The key here was we both received value from the story. It was important content for their audience and I wanted to reach their audience with my book.
The next time you are creating your promotions strategy, I want you to take time to be clear on your audience. Then determine how best to reach them. It may be a mix of traditional advertising and public relations, but it is worth the extra effort to have others do the talking for you.
My question to you – how can you include public relations elements in your traditional advertising campaigns? How you can engage with your target audience(s) on a personal and human level? How can you go beyond selling a product or advertising an event and connect with people?