Yes, there is a difference between public relations and advertising, although the two used to be farther apart on the creative scale before the world of social media came along. There are many companies and small businesses, however, who still believe that PR is something for a Hollywood star and brings no actual benefits to their brand.
In reality, a public relations team that does things the right way offers a huge number of benefits that far surpass the marketing or advertising campaign, and they bring with them skill, experience and an affordable way to build that much-needed ‘buzz’ for your brand. PR teams reach a large audience without charging the costs of traditional advertising and marketing companies, and the benefits are ten-fold:
Public relations is really the only economical way to reach a target audience and/or a mainstream audience in huge numbers and deliver clients to your door. An advertising company launches or introduces a brand, but it is the more economical PR that stimulates the continuing interest in a company’s products or services. The PR team makes sure to transform your company name from a small almost mediocre flash on the screen into a solid image, and offers a great perception of how different you are from the competition.
You and your company become a part of the ‘innovative’ category with the right pubic relations, as the team creates more credibility for you and your brand than traditional advertising. Your search engine visibility spikes (a lot higher than your competition, seeing as that many small businesses still do not understand that a PR team is needed to do this right), and you benefit from those moves across the World Wide Web. PR also knows that BOTH local and global data is important. Global is nice, but your franchise or small business needs those local neighbors and communities to survive and grow, which is a benefit that public relations brings to the table.
PR must be part of your marketing program to make it successful in 2013; therefore, implementing a PR campaign into your existing marketing plan must be done. Pubic relations is all about knowledge and learning all the new applications for the small business to appear on in order to build their brand, whereas advertising is more of an expensive high-priced campaign that will perhaps gain readers with the right poster or banner, and lead readers to your site, but it’s the PR that will keep them coming back and make them buy.
When it comes to advertising open your bank account. You will pay for ad space and you will always know exactly when that ad will appear – on air or in published print. With public relations, you are talking about free publicity – the PR firm will not measure their costs on how many times your company appears, they literally see their entire job as a continuing process, offering everything from news feeds to press releases to articles – a wealth of free media exposure.
In you like control, however, advertising gives you the creative control and the say when it comes to what goes into the ad. If you like something, fine, but if you don’t, it goes into the trash and never sees the light of day. With a good PR team, you also receive control as to the approval and disapproval of what you like and what you don’t, BUT public relations goes further. They make sure that your information is attached to everything from events to competitions, to neighborhood news – anywhere they believe that your company could get the best press and the most views. An ad runs as long as your budget can pay for it, whereas the PR campaign changes things. They don’t concentrate on just one press release; they are constantly updating and changing information. The same view will not run forever, all information regarding your company and brand is continuously adapting to the environment – what readers want to hear and what they’re interested in viewing that day, that week, that month.
All consumers know what an advertisement is; whether it be on social media platforms, cell phone applications, catalogs, magazines, or a big billboard on the highway. They understand that the picture was made for them to become curious and begin buying the product. Public relations is more of a social science, where a third-party writes or covers an event and offers an abstract view of your company. This generates more publicity and makes a consumer far more interested in how your company is linked to everything from the new cosmetics news to the new automobile coming out on the market that everyone wants.
These are independent endorsements, recommendations, pats on the back – which add to your company’s credibility. If your company can be part of the news being buzzed about, your company gets more hits in the media and brings the consumer to your website or through your store doors.
When it comes to public relations it is all about interaction with the customer. The relationship that’s built with the consumer is of the utmost importance. The client is not limited to sitting in a chair and nodding at advertising campaigns, they are part of their own brand and are responsible for building that brand as they get to know their customer base. Clients are constantly able to stay in touch through streaming conversations, blogs, etc., and as everyone knows, a happy customer that feels like they’re involved with providing positive recognition will remain loyal and route, pin, blog and tweet so that other consumers will jump on board.
With PR you build contacts – from other companies to print publications, etc. A great PR team builds that angle, hooks editors, and runs press releases to find your target audience. Then, they make sure that not only positive information gets out there, but they are also on hand 24/7 to make sure that negative publicity is taken care of immediately. The customers, again, have a relationship with you, which means PR can make sure that the customer service aspect of your company, which includes taking care of bad media, is always working.
In the end, although advertising has its benefits, it is the world of public relations that not only gives you and your company support but also – like a good team member – always watches your back!