PR -v- Advertising: Which Works Best?

It’s March 2021, the economy is on the verge of opening up again and your business has something to shout about, perhaps a brand new product or much-needed service.  How do you get the word out? Will a few adverts do the job?

I’m often asked about return on investment, an understandable question when you’re considering a marketing or PR spend.  You need to know you’ll get some bang for your buck.

First off, let’s talk CREDIBILITY.  What do you think when you see or hear an advert? Yes, you know you’re being sold to but how does that make you feel? Does it spark any feelings of trust or integrity?

PR is credible. Advertising isn’t. We watch or read the news to be informed, educated and sometimes entertained but, when an advert appears, we know it’s selling us something.  An advert will shout, “we are great at this!”   PR, on the other hand, is essentially a third-party endorsement which is much more valuable, saying, “they are great – and this is why!”  You pay for advertising but PR is earned, making it more credible and powerful.   A newsdesk has actively responded to the PR company’s press release, agreeing that it’s news and worth reporting on. An advert, however slick, appears because you paid for it.



Secondly, PR also has way more REACH.  Put simply, if you put an ad in the print edition of a magazine with 10,000 subscribers, you get 10,000 hits, many of whom will ignore it. If you write one press release, you can distribute it widely, share it on websites and social media and, if it’s published, the reach is even higher. The media outlet may also post the copy on its website and social media, generating an even greater reach. What’s more, that online content will potentially stay online for YEARS. It also provides content for your website, publications, funding bids, internal comms and newsletters whereas, if you take out an ad, it’s generally in that newspaper, magazine or radio programme for a set few days and then it’s gone.  PR has lasting benefits.

So what about the COST? As outlined above, PR is more likely to be read, generate the intended call-to-action and provide content for other uses. As a result of all this, the return on investment through advertising v PR swings considerably in favour of PR.

Oh and one last thing … before my advertising contacts call me up and complain … let’s be clear.

Advertising absolutely has its place, especially if part of a longer-term and imaginative strategic campaign. You can also boost the credibility of advertising through social proof, mixing reviews or testimonials in, building trust through past results.   Or, if you’d like to tell the bigger story, why not consider an advertorial, a combined advert/editorial?   Advertising is an important part of the wider marketing mix but that’s the point – it’s one tool and, in isolation, is likely to disappoint.

If you’d like to explore how PR could benefit YOUR business, get in touch – or 07912 324 264.