TODD SMITH’S SPIN CYCLE — The difference between PR and advertising
by Todd Smith
Published: July 25,2014
Forbes just published a piece discussing, in some detail, “the real difference between PR and advertising.” This realness in difference begins with an old saying: “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.” Or, boiled down, advertising is paid media, public relations is earned media.
It’s a simple maxim from a simpler time. But does it hold up today?
Author Robert Wynne believes that it does. Not only is PR still different from advertising — it’s still better. “With advertising, you tell people how great you are. With publicity, others sing your praises. Which do you think is more effective?” said Wynne.
The unspoken answer is supported by a 2014 Nielsen study on the role of content in the consumer decision-making process, which concluded that PR is almost 90 percent more effective than advertising: “on average, expert content lifted familiarity 88 percent more than branded content.”
Expert sources also agree.
“The idea is the believability of an article versus an advertisement,” said Michael Levine, a well-known publicist and author of the book, Guerilla P.R.
“Implied third-party endorsement by an editor can carry more credibility among potential customers,” writes Crosby Noricks at Independent Fashion Bloggers.
These trends give PR practitioners multiple feathers for their caps: PR trumps advertising in credibility, price, quality, effectiveness and usefulness — both to the consumer and the journalist, who is struggling now more than ever to churn out good stories in record time for shrinking audiences and budgets.
But that’s the easy read. Advertising in the new digital domain is much different than it used to be, and branded content has come a long way from the advertorial. One only has to look to Netflix’s incredible paid post in the New York Times for enough oohs and ahhs to give us all pause.
Five branding lessons from the World Cup social media frenzy
The social frenzy surrounding the 2014 World Cup reflects the genuine excitement felt by fans and players alike. And this is something entrepreneurs, companies and brand builders should pay attention to. This kind of chatter around a brand is valuable and can pay dividends in terms of increasing your reach, building social proof, and establishing brand advocacy.
Here are lessons you can learn from the World Cup to build frenzy around your brand
1. Brand consistency is everything
Whether on Twitter or Instagram, the World Cup was presented in a seamless way. FIFA World Cup has its own Instagram account, which helped set the tone of the event. Then there are the 33 official Twitter accounts for the participating teams that Twitter Sports has compiled into a single list. Then, there’s ESPN FC World Cup Essentials, an aggregate site which pulls content from all the social networks and a variety of news sources, acting as a World Cup social hub.
2. Each member of your team matters
Many of the FIFA players have their own social accounts and actively share their thoughts and photos from the latest events. Once again, Twitter Sports put together a list consisting of 332 soccer players participating in the World Cup so fans could keep tabs on everyone.
In business, you can leverage each member of your team in much the same way. Having just one social media account for your company won’t necessarily cut it if you want to convey authenticity. What better way to accomplish that than by having your team members speak for themselves in their own, authentic voices?
3. The more content you create, the better
The majority of the teams participating in the World Cup this year were on Twitter. That’s a lot of engagement! And many of these teams pulled out all the stops to keep their accounts fresh and interesting. This means creating new content, very frequently. From Instagram photos to clever tweets to compelling videos, they kicked it all in to advance the World Cup brand.
4. Don’t spread yourself too thin
The World Cup was the most socially-engaged sporting event in all of history, according to Adobe Digital Index projections. And yet, FIFA isn’t on every single social network there is. They have a presence of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube — and that’s it. This means FIFA is able to focus its messaging around these main platforms and really make full use of them.
Company owners could suffer major missteps if they spread themselves too thin. While it might seem like a good idea to be active on every social network, it’s a much better strategy to be active on a few and really score a winning goal!
5. Engage your customers
The World Cup brand was reinforced on Twitter thanks to hashflags. Basically, if you type in “#” plus a country’s three-letter abbreviation, a flag showed up in your tweet.
As a company, the more you can engage your followers and really connect with them as people, the greater likelihood you have of building brand advocates and repeat customers. Recognizing that your customer base consists of real people (and showing that your company is made up of the same) is the key to better relationship building.
Summer TV surge
The era of the broadcast TV networks putting up a “gone fishing” sign for the summer is over, reports the New York Times. Between broadcast and cable channels, 88 shows are being introduced from late May, when the 2013-14 season ended, through late September. And if you paid attention to the broadcast upfronts this spring, you heard again and again the message from the big network bosses: We program all year nowadays. But if you really pay attention, that sure feels like lip service. It is still pretty hard to take seriously these declarations that broadcasters are year-round programmers.
Golden Mic | McAllen Texas community puts politics aside in immigration crisis
The communities on the front lines of the border crisis have certainly put politics aside in the simmering immigration crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. With the flood of mothers and their young children across the border, cities like McAllen, Texas, knew the situation was growing into a massive humanitarian emergency long before the Feds arrived. Before politicians began issuing news releases, residents were already gathering baby formula, diapers and toys. What started out of the trunk of a car, in a church basement and over parking lot chatter has become the collective outpouring of an entire community. Pop-up shelters in McAllen, run by community groups and faith-based organizations, now fill a crucial void in services for migrant mothers and children as the government struggles to keep up with the demand. While the Obama administration scrambles to deal with the humanitarian crisis at hand, faith-based and community organizations are filling a crucial gap in care for the thousands of migrant families who braved a treacherous journey north. These organizations are not just providing care for those in need, but are helping save lives. For that, McAllen gets this week’s Golden Mic.
Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!
» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him @spinsurgeon.
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