As Ad Budgets Die…

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People have always liked getting more for less. And, during a recession, retailers are known for pulling out all the stops.  For example, one local car dealer is offering a 2-for-1 car special – buy one used car, and get one of equal or lesser value for free!

But, having been in the PR industry for 20 years, I know public relations has always been like that 2-for-1 advertising deal.

With advertising you need a big budget because a successful ad campaign comes down to repetition, repetition, repetition.  Even with the right vehicles in place for your ad buy, as well as the best placements and a quality message, consumers still must see or hear your ad numerous times in order for it to be effective.

And spending on advertising can be hefty.  In the United States alone, from January to September of 2008 over $54 billion was spent on advertising…and that was just the amount spent by the TOP 10 ADVERTISING CATEGORIES!

So it is no surprise that in this tough economic climate that advertising would be the first to go.  A recent survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that 77% of marketers who responded are planning to cut their advertising budgets.

But, even if your ad budget isn’t being cut, one thing that advertising doesn’t deliver as well as PR is consumer trust.

TNS, a leading marketing information group, surveyed 1,000 US households regarding consumer trust late last year. In that survey, a mere 35% showed any level of trust in advertising.

As well, in a Nielsen Online Global Consumer survey, when asked what sort of advertising they trust the most, a whopping 78% said they trust referrals from customers more than any type of advertising.

And that is exactly what PR delivers: trust, credibility and word of mouth promotion.  The implicit third-party endorsement that comes with appearing as a guest on radio or TV, or to have a story written about you in newspapers and magazines is absolutely priceless.  Something you can’t put a price tag on.  This is what can be achieved with PR and at about one-half to one-fifth of the price of an ad campaign.

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