As CEOs and decision makers begin to rebuild their businesses post-COVID, decisions will need to be made on the best way to build their brands in the context of a changed operating environment.
The challenge is you only have a limited budget and want to extract as much value as you can. The question is ‘what represents the best value for money?’
Whether you choose PR, marketing, or some combination will depend on your budget, as well as your objectives.
But before we can consider what’s best for you, let’s understand in broad outline the function of each discipline.
What is marketing?
Marketing is a method of getting your brand or product known in the marketplace through saturation, heavy bombardment, and usually by placement. Airwaves, bus stops, newspapers, Facebook; marketing helps you segment and find the target market for your product, and then to wrap on their skulls relentlessly with simple, pithy, value-laden propositions.
Whether you’re selling a new soft drink, a holiday experience, or mental health messaging, the aim of the game is reach and messaging: content not so much.
It’s a highly effective method of reaching people, or it wouldn’t be used.
The problem for many smaller businesses and organisations is not only the scale and resources you need to make it effective, but the way in which more sophisticated, content rich, and credible messaging can be lost in the process of boiling it all down to a soundbite or slug-line.
Today of course there is digital marketing which can be much more targeted. Spend $10K on Google Ads, and you’ll hopefully get $20,000 or greater worth of Return on Investment. There are plenty of digital services out there promising page one, first fold Google results, but getting your keywords to the top of Google rankings and rebuilding your webpage to maximise SEO can be a very expensive process.
What is PR?
As the name suggests, PR, or Public Relations, is about helping the public to become aware of your existence, to raise public awareness around an issue or campaign, to frame public debates, and to shape opinions. That’s why PR has wide application across the business, not-for-profit, and political worlds.
With a much smaller budget than one required for marketing, a good PR Agency can build your brand profile for a fraction of the cost. Once reserved for the top end of town, PR is now more affordable and accessible than ever, and is increasingly being used by smaller businesses and not-for-profits that want to get found, raise debate, or make a call-to-action around funding or policy.
The world has become a lot more wary of marketing and are limiting their exposure to it; whether that be through the use of subscription, video on demand services, or using ad-blocker extensions on websites. To get in the news and traditional media that people choose to tune in to is much more impactful and credible than pushing your service or good through paid marketing channels.
PR certainly uses trade media to channel products and services on behalf of clients, but do so by hiding the argument and value proposition inside the content, but guess what? That piece of content is not an ad, it’s an article.
And not only is an article more credible than a full page ad, because it is not considered an ad by the publisher, there’s no $3,000-$50,000 fee to place it in there. All you pay is the PR Agency fee.
Now if a PR Agency gets you that same story, or iteration of it, into multiple publications, you can start to see the way in which PR not only begins to position you as a much more credible player and brand, it can save you significant amounts of money in the marketing budget.
And if we go further still, and look at the benefits of a PR Agency pitching you into the media, with whom they already have strong relationships, you can very quickly end up being on speed dial for editors, producers, and journalists who want a quick quote or take from you on an issue currently washing through the news cycle.
Organic media, whether it’s placed on social, digital or traditional platforms, is exponentially richer in value than sponsored content. It is more respected and more consumed.
According to recent studies, a staggering 90% of humans would trust a recommendation from a family member or friend over a paid advertisement. PR is a way of reaching those influencers and convincing them in a very cost-effective manner.
At a fraction of the cost of marketing, you need to consider how much money can be saved by using a PR Agency, but also how much more credible you’ll be in your industry by appearing in the news, rather than the advertising section of the media.