Tuesday, November 11, 2008

PR vs. Advertising

In smart promotion, one does not say “the public,” referring to all of humanity en masse, one says, “my public,” talking about his target demographic. It would be as ridiculous for the Leer Jet salesman to promote to the lowest income bracket as it would be to try and sell tractors to a stock-broker.

PR, or public relations, could be summed up as the perception one’s public has of one.

In the case of an individual, this would be as simple as the way he was dressed, his manners, his mannerisms and methods of speech, his aura of competence or lack thereof.

For instance, if someone walked into your place of business looking for a job, their public would be you, as they are actually selling themselves to you. What would happen if they arrived hungover, unwashed and with horrendous body odor? Even if they have a Harvard MBA, their impression on you is not going to be positive.

On the other hand, let’s say someone walks into the same business and is well groomed and dressed, is sharp and sincere in their communication and is passionate about doing a great job. Which person is getting hired?

The second applicant may be seemingly less qualified on paper, but he gets a job because his relations with the people around him are so well managed that the perception of him by them is excellent.

For a business, PR follows through as the same concept, but becomes even more important. Why? Imagine if your business produced high-quality tractors and it’s solvency depended on selling them, but the local farmers all agreed that your tractors were poorly made, because the exterior of your sales-yard is in disrepair and your employees are slobs.

All of the above are extreme examples, but I mean only to point out one thing. It is imperative to have an excellent public image. As further proof, think about how much money presidential candidates spend on their public relations!

Can you imagine what would happen if Obama or McCain wore jeans and a t-shirt during the conventions? It would near-on crash their campaign, because who wants a president that doesn’t even care enough to handle his appearance? It’s all PR.

Also, all examples so far have applied to the real world, what about in cyberspace? At first glance, this may seem like less of a factor, but is as much, if not more important to not just advertise, but have great PR online.

Advertising is just getting the word out. Great, let’s say you advertise and in the sea of other ads, you get someone interested. Then he clicks on your webpage and it is dinky, or nonexistent! You lose money, right there.

Or, here is the more likely scenario. Potential customer sees your advertisement. He then does his homework, by looking you up on a search engine. What does he see when he gets there?

Is your company’s PR good?

In most cases, he sees the competition and they have a nicer webpage and it ranks higher, so they obviously know what they’re doing. Or, your webpage reads first, but right underneath you have a blog post by the one disgruntled customer in the history of your company saying he got ripped-off. Or a thousand other bad PR scenarios that could happen.

What happened in that short space of time? You lost the customer. Frankly, if you show mediocrity in this crucial moment when someone is interested, you will hemorrhage business.

So in this we see that the effectiveness of advertising rests upon public image of your company. We can also see that nowadays, this public image is more important on the internet than just about anywhere else, as there is no salvaging an unimpressed potential customer when competition is just a click away.

Perhaps now it is easier to see the value of PR against advertising; with bad PR, advertising has no foundation on which to work. Plus, a lot of business will come through word of mouth and good PR in general.

Spencer Barnes
Director of Delivery
Richter10.2 Media Group

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