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No, PR Does Not Look More Like Advertising

PR does not look like advertising

Photo credit: Flickr

by Frank Strong

PR Daily ran an oped earlier this week:  The PR industry today looks an awful lot like advertising.

Why does it look like this, according to the author?

Because, he says, with social media, blogs and even press releases, PR is going straight to the audience and bypassing the traditional media.

According to the post, “It doesn’t matter whether they’re selling information, clothes, or coupons—they are selling it direct to the audience. So are they advertising or PR-ing?”

No, PR does not look like advertising

What the author is getting after is third-party validation: by skipping the media and publishing to reach audiences directly, PR is missing the credibility that is earned through the media.

But he’s wrong. Sometimes the press release is the story.

Indeed, PR is defined by third-party party validation, but the media is not the only source of credibility.  Every link, tweet, like, +1, stumble, bookmark — any web connection that shares information — is a form of validation.  Individually, these may not make an enormous difference, but over time the aggregate of voices definitely matter.

This is why Yelp reviews rank so well in local search. This is why content marketing is the new branding. It is good old fashioned word of mouth marketing, done online and that answers that important question:  I’m thinking about buying X, do you have any recommendations?

Advertising today is engineered to look, feel and function more like PR than advertising.

To the contrary, marketing looks more like PR

Marketing looks more like PR — and that includes advertising.

Did you hear about that stunt Oreo did during the Superbowl?  Sure, everybody did.  Was it a paid placement?  Nope.

The Oreo social media plug was the brainchild of 360i, a digital marketing firm, that features the fact it made AdAge’s 2013 “Agency A-List” and was also named as a best place to work by AdAge in 2011 and 2012 on its website.

Remember the Old Spice campaign?  That work of genius blended advertising, PR and social media and drove sales, was created by Wieden + Kennedy, which by its own description is a “creatively driven advertising agency.”

Native advertising, the latest new hot thing in advertising is pointedly designed to disguise advertisements as news stories.

Advertising today is engineered to look, feel and function more like PR than advertising…because PR works.  Talking to people, engaging people, and reaching out works.  Fostering trust, forming relationships and building brands moves content and sells things.

Image Credit:  Flickr

Image Credit: Flickr


Why is this happening?

Marketing has to shift to function more like PR because consumers tired of interruption marketing — and technology has given us the means to do that — DVRs, pop-up blockers, email spam filters to name a few.  For many, advertising on the web is like swatting flies — we bat down the advertisements to get to the good stuff, while marketers continuously try to force feed us paid promotions.

Promoted posts, click through news stories, and those annoying mini-pop ups that follow you as you scroll a page are among the latest interruptions. People hate this stuff — they don’t hate marketing — they hate the interruption because these are obstacles that are intentionally placed between us and the information we are seeking.

On the web, attention is a form of currency — and I contend it is better to earn it than try to buy it — which is what PR has always done.  This is why marketing, and indeed advertising, looks a lot more like PR.  It is a change I embrace, and I’d recommend other PR pros do as well.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Why PR Should Embrace Content Marketing

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