Entrepreneurs dream of having their company appear on the front page of a major publication or doing an interview on a major network.
Public relations can certainly create breakthrough moments, but in most cases it is simply an important part of an overall marketing strategy. Public relations offers several advantages not found with other promotional options.
Advantages of Public Relations
- Exposure. A well-structured PR campaign can result in the target market being exposed to more detailed information than they receive with other forms of promotion. That is, media sources often provide more space and time for explanation of a product.
- Distribution. Depending on the media outlet, a story mentioning a company may be picked up by a large number of additional media, thus, spreading a single story to many locations.
- Cost Effective. In many cases public relations objectives can be achieved at very low cost when compared to other promotional efforts. This is not to suggest public relations is not costly, it may be, especially when a marketer hires PR professionals to handle the work. But when compared to the direct cost of other promotions, in particular advertising, the return on promotional expense can be quite high.
Disadvantages of Public Relations
While public relations holds many advantages for marketers, there are also concerns when using this promotional technique.
- Lack of Content Control. First, while public relations uses many of the same channels as advertising, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and Internet, it differs significantly from advertising in that marketers do not have direct control over whether a message is delivered and where it is placed for delivery.
- ROI Risk. While a PR campaign has the potential to yield a high return on promotional expense, it also has the potential to produce the opposite if the news media feels there is little value in running a story pitched (i.e., suggested via communication with the news outlet) by the marketer.
- Getting Bumped. There is always a chance that a well devised news event or release will get “bumped” from planned media coverage because of a more critical breaking news story, such as wars, severe weather or serious crime.