Advantages of Public Relations
Public relations offers several advantages not found with other promotional options. These advantages include:
Considered a Credible Form of Promotion – A key part of a PR promotion is to obtain mentions of an organization in independent media outlets (e.g., television, online) as the target market generally views the mention as being more credible since it is not based on payment (i.e., advertisement) but on the media outlet’s judgment of what is newsworthy.
Can Offer More Detail – A well-structured public relations campaign can provide the target market with more detailed information than they receive with other forms of marketing promotion (e.g., details on a special event).
Information May Spread Quickly – A story mentioning an organization may be quickly picked up by a large number of additional media outlets (e.g., spread rapidly by bloggers and social media).
May Be Lower Cost Than Other Methods – When compared to the direct cost of other promotions, in particular advertising, the return on promotional expense for well-executed PR can be quite high.
Disadvantages of Public Relations
While public relations holds many advantages for marketers, there are also concerns when using this promotional technique. These disadvantages include:
Lack of Control Over Message Release – While public relations often uses the same print, digital and broadcast media outlets as advertising, it differs significantly from advertising in that marketers do not have direct control over whether a message is delivered.
Lack of Control Over Message Content – When public relations conveys information to a member of the media (e.g., reporter), the message may be “re-crafted” to fit within media’s content (e.g., news story) with the final message not being precisely what the marketer planned.
May Be Higher Cost Than Other Methods – While a PR campaign has the potential to yield a high return on promotional expense, it also can have the opposite effect (e.g., few attend a presentation by a company-paid spokesperson).
Message May Not Appear at All – When dealing with the media, there is always a chance a PR content item (e.g., TV interview with the company president) will get “bumped” from planned media coverage because of a more critical breaking news story (e.g., earthquake).
Special Skills May be Needed to Do PR Effectively – Marketers, accustomed to handling many of their own promotional tasks, may find that public relations requires a different skill set than other types of promotion (e.g., skills in dealing with the media), thus requiring the marketer to spend on a PR professional.