Discover your free Construction Marketing Ideas Email Newsletter

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Publicity and Advertising -- Which works best?

Here is a blunt statement.

"Media publicity works. Advertising doesn't."

Is it true? Partly. Say your wigdet achieves positive attention on Oprah, or on page 1 of the Globe and Mail or the New York Times. You'll attain far more business than any amount of advertising you could even think of buying, and you won't pay a cent for the publicity. (In fact, if you are doing something so newsworthy that it rates attention with the superstars of the media world, you may well be paid for your publicity seeking skills. See our story on Donald Trump).

Obviously, publicity even on lower levels is very useful. It has credibility, impact, marketing clout, and can be transferred into a solid and effective image for your business. Advertising, conversely, can be expensive and utterly ineffective. In traditional media, you pay regardless of whether or not the ad 'works'.

But the overall picture is never as simple as it seems on the surface.

First, in some cases, especially in the new world of pay-per-click or (even better) pay-per-order on the Internet, you have much more control over your advertising; you can track results, measure success, and make money. Control is the key word. Advertisers always have had control over when and where their ad is placed -- unlike media publicity, where the control rests with the writers, videographers, assignment editors, and the like, and you can be blown off course by forces totally outside your control (like another story that bumps you off page 1 or the lead news item).

Second, in many cases, advertising can defend and protect your brand and image. When your product or service is no longer 'new', you need to remind your clients and potential clients about who you are and what you do. Sure, you can still work for media publicity, but the danger is when you are 'too' successful the media will turn against you -- advertising then is a great defence. (And in local media, can actually protect you somewhat from bad publicity. Do you notice how rarely local newspapers and television stations investigate car dealers or other retailers that advertise heavily. Editorial integrity is a great concept, but strains when the hard realities of the chequebook enter the picture.)

Third, advertising is valid if it cements and supports your relationships with existing and potential clients. That is the type of advertising we mostly sell in our publications. It is effective and meaningful. We also realize, as a business that we need to respect the value we provide our advertisers and ensure they are treated fairly.

And that is where we come to this post's irony.

If someone advertises with us, we'll go out of our way to provide them with support, guidance, and consulting on how to get editorial publicity in other media outlets and (in a controlled way, without sacrificing our independence or fundamental editorial integrity) in our own publications. We come full circle.

And so the phrase should be:

Advertising (the right kind) works. So does media publicity.

For some more specific advice on how you can manage your media publicity -- I won't rush to sell you any advertising -- call me at 888-432-3555 ext 224 or email

No comments: