Most people confuse PR with advertising, so I've come up with a stereotypical marketing metaphor to help explain what sets them apart and why public relations (including digital/social media) is an invaluable and cost effective aspect of any good marketing strategy.
If advertising is the tip of the iceberg, which is obvious and there to avoid if you choose, then PR is the submerged glacier which will hit you without you knowing it...
With advertising you pay for a small space in a publication, or on a website, to place a carefully designed advert which will promote a product or service. You are in control of your messaging and can include whatever you like on it-sales messages, offers, branding, etc.
PR gives you the potential to reach a much larger audience through story-telling but as you're not paying for the space, you have to be much more subtle with your messages. The two should complement each other but have very different agendas... Some campaigns will lean towards a heavier PR angle to raise awareness and create conversation, whereas others will base themselves on hard advertising and product placement through sponsored ads or blogs to generate direct sales.
When putting together a strategy, A PR will look at several aspects to help them to create the right campaign: audience, messaging and reputation to name but a few.
They’ll then work it into a plan using media relations, press releases, digital content and social media to make it stand out and capture the attention of the identified audience.
In theory, they have two clients: the business they’re trying to promote working and the journalist. They have to find a happy medium between the two that will work well for both parties.
If you use blatant sales messages in your press release or make your campaign too commercial then journalists will pass it straight onto advertising. The trick with PR is to give writers a great story that will appeal to, or inform, their readers.
Advertisers will do the same thing but they have to create a visual impact that will capture our compulsive nature.
If you're still unsure of the benefits of PR and the best approach, I offer one-to-one PR training and full PR strategies for rural tourism businesses. Please get in touch.