Many businesses get confused between the concepts of ‘Marketing’, ‘Advertising’ and ‘PR’. What falls into which category? Who should do what? Do we need a marketing person as well as a PR and advertising person, and where is the overlap between the jobs?
The best businesses keep it simple. It’s all the same thing. Getting your product and brand in front of as many people as possible, and as a result, increasing your sales. What you call it doesn’t matter, but having a clear strategy as to how it’s going to work and produce results is vital.
So the overall plan - let’s call it the ‘Marketing Plan’ - must bring together what it is that you are selling, to which market segments, through which channels, and how you are going to make a noise about it. The ‘making a noise about it’ is the advertising and PR part of the marketing mix.
Advertising is relatively straightforward. You pay for someone to print or display in your chosen magazine, newspaper or blog, whatever it is you want to say. The only three things to think about are, what you want to say, which title and how much you want to spend. The thing to remember about advertising though is that most consumers simply do not believe it now, and thanks to the internet, they spend their time sifting through customer reviews before making their buying decisions.
In short, they take much more notice of the views of independent third parties, than they do of advertisements placed by the selling company.
Which is where the value of PR comes in. The best businesses work hard on getting their brands and products commented on positively by trusted journalists. Being included in a ‘Top ten barbecues to buy’ article in a weekend broadsheet is a hugely more valuable piece of coverage that an advertisement in the same paper.
Not only because people will take more notice of it, but because it will find itself onto the online sites too, and optimise the SEO of the business, making it much more likely that consumers searching the internet for barbecues will land on the ones in the article.
Read also: How PR can support your SEO strategy
How to get your business into the media
So the question is, how to get into the article. There are two key aspects to focus on.
- Creation of your own news relating to your product, with a sufficiently compelling story that when it is distributed to journalists they will pick it up and include it in their columns. It has to be relevant and have a good ‘hook’ attached to it to capture the interest not just of the journalists, but also of the potential reader, to justify its inclusion in the journalist’s column. The most important piece in grabbing the attention is the headline on the news release.
- Responding to journalists’ requests for comment and spokespeople. This is often easier than creating your own news release. It also has the advantage that you don’t need to work on capturing the journalists’ interest as they are already focused on the topic and article, and are giving you an open door to contribute and get your brand recognised.
PR is often seen as too complex and too expensive for a small business, that then spends its budget on email marketing and advertisements in the local paper. In truth, it is the reverse. PR is easier and cheaper than advertising, and much more effective. Which is why the best businesses make full use of it as part of their overall marketing plan.
Written by: Peter Ibbetson, Founder