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Cloughie’s Conundrum: PR vs. Advertising

Posted on 25-01-16 by Andy Morley

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As brand awareness becomes increasingly important for business growth and development, Tina Clough, managing director at Derby based Poppy-PR offers her take on why businesses should seek to employ a PR professional, before engaging in a targeted advertising strategy.

Historically, PR has been akin to a cartel style system, with many businesses assuming that advertising is the only marketing tool within their reach due to status and budget restrictions.

In recent years, the more progressive PR agencies have started offering PR packages which aim to boost the SME, opening up the PR pool to those previously excluded.  Sure, many agencies will still adopt a ‘survival of the richest’ approach to client retention, charging fees that only the larger business enterprise can even consider, but the new generation of PR firm is giving the SME a plethora of options within the PR sphere.

As the director of Derby based Poppy-PR, I am often asked the same questions from those seeking to use a PR for the very first time.  These questions include ‘Why should I use PR over advertising?’, ‘How much coverage can I expect from the average PR campaign?’ and ‘How much could PR save me if I scrap my current advertising budget?’.

This was a conversation that I recently had with a new client of ours, before he brought his successful lettings agency into the Poppy-PR family. His business was very successful, paid the bills and gave his family a good life.  Despite this, he wanted to push the boundaries of his business. He wanted to challenge not only himself, but his staff, create new lead generation channels and position himself as a thought leader within his field.

Poppy-PR discouraged him to plough money into an advertising budget and offered him a starter PR package aimed at raising his profile locally.

Akin to advertising, PR can help to generate sales. The main difference is the fact that PR focuses on creating positive publicity, whilst working towards generating a good reputation about a business, organisation or individual.

Customers or future clients are more likely to pay for services or products from a business that it has a high opinion of. Editorial is an easier way of conveying a message than advertising, because more can be said in an article than in a printed advertisement. Good PR helps a business to say more, whilst paying less.

Readers, viewers and listeners all know when they are being sold to and all three will react differently to a positive news story, than to an advert. Inevitably, reading or listening to an advert will generate a certain level of scepticism as it has been paid for. A positive view from a third party, such as a newspaper or story online, will be perceived as more worthy of your attention.

In one of our starter packages, clients can expect to receive between 6-10 pieces of coverage per story written, and with our average packages including two releases a month, at a cost of £950-£1500, the cost savings can easily be seen.

With a single quarter page advert in The Nottingham Post setting you back around £445, and a monthly PR package with us costing £950, our packages can offer you up to 20 pieces of coverage a month, forward features research, social media management, transparent reporting, and even event organisation to boot!

No matter how much you pay for an advert, you will never secure a big front page placement or coverage in the main run of the publication. These spaces are reserved for news. Offering the editors with great PR is the only way of securing this space.

In month one of his campaign, the Poppy-PR team have generated around 15 pieces of coverage for the lettings agency in question and it has resulted in a sparkling review for our team.

The average PR campaign is historically valued at three times that of advertising, something that is fuelling the decision and buying process. As 2016 gets into its stride, I would advise any business seeking to raise its profile, to try PR as a means of achieving those business objectives.

There are many reasons to choose PR over advertising, please call Tina directly on 07581015325.