PR vs. Advertising — And the Winner is?


Well, it’s probably a little early to declare a “winner” between PR and Advertising — maybe there never will be one clear champion. I was always under the impression these two fields were supposed to be complimentary. Maybe it was just me. Out of a deep desire not to look like a fourth grader copying his homework, I have to throw out a little credit for the initial thoughts on this topic to The Flack and others, but I swear I thought about this in the car on the way home tonight.

To the point: I came across this Economist article at work today, which I suppose signifiesEconomist Graph my tardiness in commenting on it since it was published on Jan. 19. Despite that fact, I wanted to at least mention it. It’s a nice balanced view of our industry and really displays the shift in value that is taking place within the various types of companies that hire us PR folks. One part got me thinking though:

“It forecasts PR spending will grow by almost 9% a year. This is faster than the overall market for advertising and marketing, now worth a colossal $475 billion and growing at 6.7% a year.”

“It” being Proctor & Gamble which conducted a study on PR and advertising spending in relation to effectiveness, found that money directed toward PR will grow in the coming years, but what does that mean for PR — besides a little bit more dough in the company pocket? To me, this only indicates an even greater importance placed upon reporting and measurement. It has been a constant battle for PR — how do we justify our existence?

I liken PR to a pit bull, at least in spirit. Proving our services valuable has never been easy because measuring the impact of our work has always been difficult. There has been the old standby, clips, but that’s so … not getting it done anymore. The value of PR isn’t always in how many mentions or articles we’ve placed, but also in the strategic component we are able to bring to the corporate table, when we’re invited. But, more and more, as the Economist indicates, PR people are being welcomed into the inner circle of the corporate structure. It is this invitation, in my mind, that only increases the pressure to justify why we belong in the room.

Having a good relationship with our clients is vastly important, but measurement is the key to maintaining and ultimately proving why we deserve a chance. I’m sure anyone who reads this will want to know how I would suggest measuring effectiveness, or lack there of, but really, we all know there are a number of ways. So, I’m open to hearing what people think on this one, if anyone cares to comment.

And one more thing — I know I talk/write a lot, but bare with me, I’m working on fixing that. I blame my long-winded father.

3 Responses to “PR vs. Advertising — And the Winner is?”

  1. Ryan – You’re right on a lot of points, and I hope you’ll take a minute to check out my blog. Do a search on “measurement” and you’ll get an earfull (eyefull?)
    Keep up the good work. – Todd

  2. Ryan – You’re right on a lot of points, and I hope you’ll take a minute to check out my blog. Do a search on “measurement” and you’ll get an earfull (eyefull?)
    Keep up the good work. – Todd

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