5 Ways PR Beats Paid Advertising

PR, advertising, and marketing should be working together as well-oiled gears in a powerful machine that propels a brand toward success. While it shouldn’t be a contest, it’s worth noting that in some instances, public relations can yield a greater return on investment. Especially in the B2B tech sector, PR programs are essential to gaining competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace.

PR can shine in B2B tech

PR confers third-party endorsement

Many B2B companies engage in lengthy sales cycles where customers make a large commitment of capital – and faith. Ads alone may not inspire the confidence a customer needs to make an important decision. Customers who read or hear about an amazing enterprise software company in analyst reports, recommendations from third-party influencers, white papers, executive bylines, and in tech news outlets have gain a degree of trust that an ad campaign can’t provide.


For smaller firms, PR can reduce marketing spend

If you’re a scrappy startup or an early stage tech company, you may not have the capital for massive advertising budgets. By supplementing advertising with a PR campaign, a brand can earn visibility that attracts leads. Ads pop up and disappear, while blog posts, news articles, and white papers stay searchable for months ie even years. The longer life span of PR content and the snowball effect of earned media and can lead to great ROI for smaller B2B companies.

B2B decision-makers rely on research

And that research comes from PR content. Both profitability and reputation ride on the decisions of B2B buyers. In 2017, Forbes reported: “Most B2B buyers say they rely heavily on white papers (82%), webinars (78%), and case studies (73%) to make purchasing decisions. Close behind are e-books (67%), infographics (66%), and blog posts (66%).” In a 2018 study by TrustRadius, 75% of respondents said they used info from third-party sources (analyst reports, independent media news, and consultants) to make their decisions. Business buyers prefer hard, unbiased data over sales pitches and marketing collateral. When it comes to differentiating yourself from the pack, these PR can surpass advertising.

PR offers more bang for the content buck

In many ways B2B PR is a more efficient engine of promotion. The life span and versatility of PR content allows it to do more work with less effort. For example, a research study conducted by the PR team can be used and reused in many different formats, like white papers, blog posts, and earned media coverage. An executive’s participation in a trade show panel can yield video, media coverage, blog posts, and social media engagement. Plus, earned and owned content can boost SEO over the long haul, driving more leads in your direction.

PR offers credibility

Credibility begets trust. In today’s growing atmosphere of skepticism, trust is a priceless commodity. The fundamental power of PR bears repeating: impartial third-party endorsements outshine the tooting of one’s own advertorial horn. Sound marketing and advertising can be a good start in building credibility, but a well-conceived PR plan builds the type of reputational value that lasts. And solid reputation management creates a litany of benefits. A good reputation is social currency that can diminish the effects of a crisis event, assist in attracting the finest talent, and inspire the team.

MDG Advertising reported that 70 percent of internet users want to learn about products through content versus traditional advertisements. People don’t want the hard sell. Plus, advertising is usually a one-way communication. In this era of two-way communications, public relations is a better tool for engagement with stakeholders. If you’re in it for the long haul, it is unwise to neglect the PR part of the equation. If your marketing, advertising, and PR teams are collaborating in accordance with the brand’s business goals, your company is setting itself up for sustained growth.

How Marketing And Advertising Can Inform PR

If you work in public relations, there’s a chance people outside your field have confused what you do with advertising or even marketing. The three often operate alongside one another but are distinct and separate practices. Still, when working with a company or brand, there are ways PR professionals can glean useful insights from marketing and advertising. Here are some suggestions.

Use the marketing calendar to create timely opportunities for PR. Aligning the PR calendar with your brand’s marketing calendar and product roadmap is one of the first things our team does during the onboarding process for a new client. Product or service launches, which marketing builds into the calendar long in advance, provide the framework for when to plan certain types of media outreach, and can create synergies that are ultimately more beneficial to the client’s bottom line.

Learn from best practices for creating content. The lines between PR and content marketing have blurred. These days shared content can be something original that was never meant for eyes beyond a personal network of friends (think Alex from Target), or it can be a carefully crafted ad campaign, like the latest iteration of Always’ #likeagirl campaign that went viral practically overnight. PR content creators can make their work stronger by taking best practices from advertising creative teams. For example, what’s the optimal length for video content?

Stay ahead of trends to promote at just the right moments. Knowing what’s trending in the world of advertising and marketing can yield insights that help PR pros know when to pitch certain angles. Is Facebook about to unveil auto-play for its video content? Perhaps it’s better to time that video-sharing piece until just after the launch.

Check in with sales and marketing teams for insights on what language resonates with customers. PR centers on telling stories that engage end users, and sales and marketing teams have direct access to those customers on a regular basis. It can be very useful for communications people to hear from the front lines what types of messages are really hitting home with customers. Whether it’s metrics and data from marketing, which is constantly optimizing strategy in real time, or anecdotal stories from sales people in the field, the insights can help PR use the most powerful and appropriate language possible. That makes for powerful storytelling.