Which is better: PR or Advertising?

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So when do you need advertising and when do you need PR? Or do you need both?

 

Well, each has PROs and cons (sorry bad pun)…

 

Advertising offers a far greater level of message control than PR. That is, with advertising your product or service can have exactly the spin you want it to have. Once a PR news story leaves the office and enters the real world, the message can be changed and interpreted. Often publications don’t even see the story as newsworthy and refuse to cover it. In advertising, if you’ve paid for it, you get the exposure.

 

But then there is the matter of shelf-life. PR releases tend to smoulder longer than an advert released on television. Search engines can locate an archived press release long after the initial PR buzz has waned.

 

But, the big bonus of a PR message is that it carries implied endorsement from the publication it’s printed in (and the reader may have a very high level of trust for that publication). Conversely, even the best advertising is recognised as self-serving communication. PR also happens to be substantially cheaper.

 

PR has also come into its own with the arrival of web 2.0 services, blogs and forums. Third-party endorsement, blogger recommendations and entering into a conversation with consumers has never been more important. Imagine how urgent it is for a PR consultant to stop a disgruntled customer talking about their horrible experience with your client on a forum read by 50,000 people…

 

The rule for the moment seems to be: if you have a large company and enough money to blast your ad through the constant din of media messaging with a huge campaign, go for it. But you should have PR too.

 

For small or medium-sized companies, or anyone working in the digital space, PR is the way forward.

 

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