Many people confuse public relations with advertising, believing they are one and the same. Others don’t see the need for PR, thinking that all they require is a good advertising campaign.
In fact, PR is an essential arm of marketing that should be employed by any company looking to establish a strong presence.
Just as you might do for print media marketing, you should have a strategy in place to leverage the benefits of public relations in online marketing.
The Difference Between PR and Advertising
Publicity plants the seed, advertising reaps the harvest. Done properly, PR will reap benefits for your business way beyond advertising. A PR article can be many times more valuable than an advertisement.
- Paid versus earned publicity. You pay for ad space, whether it’s for print media, TV, online or billboard advertising. PR is free publicity and is generated by word of mouth discussion or by a reporter/editor writing a post about your brand or product. Positive PR can also be generated by having press releases published in various media.
- Credibility. Consumers immediately associate advertising with a sales pitch and some view that information guardedly. An article written about your company or product by a respected third party has more credibility and constitutes an endorsement.
- Shelf life. Advertisements can have a long shelf life, but you need the budget to be able to run them time and again. PR in the form of an article or press release can sometimes have much greater impact. This is especially true in this digital age, where posts that add value can be shared via social media or email and go viral.
- Creative control. With advertising you have creative control over content. While this is not always the case with PR, often you can negotiate with a publisher to have control over content before publication.
Social Media Strategies for PR
As much as social media can enable good online PR to go viral, “black” PR can have a damaging effect if not countered. Black PR includes negative comments or posts about your company or product, which can originate from a competitor, disgruntled customer, former employee, or even just an online troll. White PR is used to counter this action and to reinforce the credibility and value of your brand.
- Include social sharing with press releases. Journalists always include “Share” buttons to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media when they publish. You should, too.
- Offer expert opinion. Social media provide the opportunity to offer immediate expert opinion when stories related to your industry break. Not only can you position your team as experts in your field, you can attract attention to your brand.
- Encourage your executives to publish on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the leading social platform for professional and business networking. This gives top executives an ideal opportunity to engage with industry colleagues and build trust with customers and key stakeholders.
- Create social campaigns around business successes. Your PR team can use customer feedback and case studies to showcase your products/services and build credibility.
A strong public relations campaign supporting online marketing can greatly increase the response from advertising, especially when used effectively in social media. But understanding your public image is not always easy from “the inside”. So, consider discussing your PR and advertising with third-party online marketing consultants. The investment can be worth big revenue bucks.
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