Raising the profile of an institution, a professor, a new specialist centre, or the launch of a programme? You’ve probably thought about public relations as well as advertising.
Both have their place in the marketing world, but is one better than the other?
“PR provides third-party advocacy for your product or service,” said Ian Hawkings, Head of Practice here at BlueSky Education. “It lends a credibility that advertising simply can’t.”
Essentially, this is the most important point.
Advertising is an organisation shouting about itself. Apply now! Join us! We’re the best in our field! Evidently, they’ll be biased and any potential student or customer knows this.
PR is someone else saying how great your business school or university is – someone that isn’t being paid to be positive, someone without a personal investment. There must be a genuine angle or hook for editors run an article, publish a press release or to cover an event.
It’s the goal of PRs to achieve this and get clients noticed by the media.
While today’s audiences are savvy about advertising, any positive press coverage puts the organisation in the public eye and promotes it in a more subtle way.
“Advertising doesn’t necessarily start a debate, pass interesting comment or bear great relevance to current sector issues,” said Natalie Bishop of BlueSky. “PR, on the other hand, is more three-dimensional; it doesn’t just promote a product, it uses these tools to explain why something is a sector leader.”
On this mission, PR professionals shape the messages that compel and inspire. These are woven into press releases, pitches to journalists, speeches at conferences and public forums, and even in-house materials like magazines and copy for websites.
Chris Johnson of BlueSky argues that these efforts are actually more cost effective. He says the results of PR are more likely to be read, provide content for social media, and aid internal communications.
So while both advertising and PR exist to endorse an organisation and its products, they aren’t the same thing. With this in mind, marketing budgets need to be allocated carefully. What will have the best impact?
It was Bill Gates that famously said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”
How do you view PR and advertising? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @BlueSky_Edu
Author: Stephanie Mullins