By Jennifer Goddard Combs

Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.

And why do we pay for publicity? Because it is far more effective than advertising. The implied third party validation by an editor or newscaster is far more persuasive than a one-sided commercial. Additionally, while advertising builds exposure, Public Relations builds trust.

 Jean-Louis Gassée is best known as the former executive of Apple Computers from 1981-1990.

Jean-Louis Gassée is best known as the former executive of Apple Computers from 1981-1990.

First, a quick review. Advertising is paid media. You spend a specified amount of money for a specific product, e.g. a full-page ad in the Sunday newspaper supplement or a one-minute commercial on the local news. You dictate and approve the content of the advertisement. Public Relations, or publicity, is earned media. Editors and reporters are convinced to place your story in the media, e.g. magazine feature, spot on the evening news, or a post on blog that’s gone viral. You don’t have control over the message, why it’s imperative to have a seasoned PR professional working for you.

Advertising certainly has its place, and my intention is not to bad-mouth it. The purpose of this post is to highlight the effectiveness of Public Relations.

In the article “The Real Difference Between PR and Advertising” in Forbes.com, contributor Robert Wynne writes “Almost every article you read or see in the media is ‘gift-wrapped’ or originates from a public relations agency. Think about it:  A new smart phone. An attack from a Congressman criticizing the President. The latest report on glaciers melting in Antarctica. None of these stories appear out of nowhere and end up in front you of and millions of other consumers. All of these stories were written, tested, practiced and formulated by publicists, staffers, speechwriters or corporate experts before being sent to reporters who processed the information, rejected some assertions, accepted others, then decided to produce a news product.”

Need further convincing on the benefits of Public Relations? Below I give my top three reason to hire a Public Relations professional.

1. Build Your Bottom Line through Exposure (while Saving Money)

PR exposes you to a variety of media. With the right match of a publicist, you are able to tell the world what you think they should know in the most efficient manner. An attorney specializing in Trusts & Estates is interviewed on a local newscast as an expert. A CPA is the featured speaker at an industry/trade awards ceremony. A financial planner’s OpEd is featured in Sunday’s business section. Try figuring out how much that kind of exposure would cost in advertising dollars.   

2. You only have 24 hours a day (like the rest of us)

How much time are you able to devote to actually making money with your business? You know, billable hours? Payroll, facilities management, human resources … all very time consuming. And you want to add Public Relations on top of all that? Remember, the best PR professionals have relationships (years and years of history) with the media. That’s part of what your are paying for – the inside track on getting your name and your company’s name in front of as many people as possible.

3. The Credibility Factor (every business needs it)

Having a PR team shows you are serious about your business and its reputation. Also, a PR professional will guide and groom you and your business, which bumps up confidence, which bumps up success.

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