PR Versus Advertising

The real choice isn't between advertising and PR — it's between what works and what doesn't.The digital age and increasing segmentation of media outlets has caused many advertisers to rethink how they spend their marketing dollars. Public relations has been by and large the beneficiary.

The value of paid advertising is knowing when and where your message will be placed. That knowledge may be reassuring at one level, but unnerving if you aren't sure the eyeballs of your target audience will see your ad. Newspapers and magazines are slimmer today because there is less advertising, not less news.

Ads give advertisers and their ad agencies more creative control of their message. But again, you can't always control what your readers or viewers watch — or how and when they will watch it. TIVO, fast-forward buttons on TV remote controls and Hulu have replaced a quick rise from the couch to get a beer during commercial breaks.

PR professionals admittedly have less control over placing stories and conveying key messages. What they do have going for them are strategies and tactics that pull people to a story, not push a message. Editorial content seems more credible.