When P-R is better than A-Ds

It sounds so good on the surface – why spend money on marketing and advertising when you can get space or air time for “free” through PR.

After all, isn’t it true that great gobs of what we see and read was generated, either directly or indirectly, by PR? Yes, this is true. And isn’t it also true that PR placements are more believable than ads? Yes…

But a few words of caution:

  • You can micro-manage your release for months, but once it leaves the office it is out of your control and subject to the moods and whims of the editor who receives the release.
  • There is no such thing as “free” PR. The PR that is gobbled up by the media is carefully crafted stuff written by pros – and those pros don’t come cheap.
  • Most of the PR generated annually goes straight into the proverbial “circular file” and never sees the light of day.

When you buy ad space or time, there are no such problems. You have complete control over the content of the ad and even its placement. No risk. No editing. No hoping the editor is in a good mood or has a shortage of material. But, of course, you will have to pay a bill.

So what is best? First, some background. A PR release will be considered if (stress the word if) it contains news. But not just any news. It must be news that is of interest or value to the people who look at the media (print, radio, TV, web) that is considering accepting your release.

Here is a real life example. One of our clients, Schwank infra-red heaters, came up with a new product design that was scheduled for release next summer. The client wanted to get this news out and, in the process, get some feel for market interest. We prepared a release and were careful to include a photo because we know editors are more likely to use a release with a graphic. Result: the release was picked up by all the primary trade media (our key target). Better still, the release generated a fist-full of responses from interested buyers. We could have done the same with paid ads, but in this case the better and much cheaper route was PR.

In short, if you have real news, there is an opportunity to use PR, but forget do-it-yourself PR. Give the job to the pros and reap the benefits.

PS: Want to ensure your PR is picked up by trade media? Buy some space first. It is no coincidence that advertisers get more PR space than non advertisers.

Read Wolfgang's latest marketing blog.

Wolfgang Franke is President & Creative Director of Words at Work Advertising & Marketing, a full service communications company established in 1988. Our growing list of valued clients are found throughout our local market, Markham and the Greater Toronto area, across Canada in cities such as London, Ontario, and Edmonton, Alberta, and an expanding list of international locations ranging from The Big Apple in New York to Kanturk, Ireland.

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