Advertising vs. PR
Advertising and Public Relations are completely different animals. Advertising is media that is scheduled and contracted. A print ad, for example, is controlled and is consumed as such. Readers of that advertising know it is a paid commercial message. Public relations, on the other hand, is not paid media. Public Relations puts its attention on the editorial side of media. Editors are busy people. They are often short staff. They need help. They want to create an editorial environment that will attract readers. They work for publishers who want to attract advertisers as well.
Public Relations Results
You can generate real value if you leverage your ability to work with select media (editors) in providing content - content that is not blatantly promotional or commercial. The shared goal is to produce copy that is of interest to readers as well as distribution and end-user prospects. If you can interest editors in case study examples, expertise or news about your brands, your stories will will rise to the top. They will be featured in a favorable light. There is no real fair comparison of advertising versus PR placements but if you use a relative measurement process it may help you evaluate how you are doing each quarter, each year and as time passes. It won't be perfect but at least you will have a measure of relative success. To accomplish this system you will need to score placements based on your goals. You may decide to use qualitative scores, circulation and a relative assessment of value.
The weighted system accounts for the fact that all PR is not created equal. You can continue to pursue the low hanging fruit (placements of personnel releases and product launch copy) but focus efforts on bigger successes.(Like placements that tell your brand and/or company story.) I call this a “greatest hits” approach. By weighting the value or score assigned to better quality placements your team will celebrate a more important communication and messaging effort as they appear in your targeted media.
Focus going forward
Public relations focused on the brands, success stories and expertise can be packaged and offered to editors and publishers of industry publications. They can and will challenge you and they should as journalists. But you can help by reviewing editorial calendars and by strengthening relationships with editors. Remember it is critical to provide value: It could be in the form of end-user success stories; expertise in sales, brand, engineering: or in unbiased scientific comparisons. Above all you need qualified review of all copy prior to submission to assure accuracy. Your credibility is at stake with each and every submission.