Some of the most successful brands have been built without spending much on advertising. A strategic public relations campaign is one of the most cost-effective and credible ways to create demand and awareness in the marketplace. The power of this approach is most powerfully applied when launching an innovative and unique new product or service or when your product is entering a new market; gaining strategic story placement and generating buzz are easiest when you are first to offer something new, exciting and differentiated. And although “first” gets big results, PR should be an on-going element of any marketing plan.
One of the greatest assets of PR is the value of trusted, 3rd party endorsements. The credibility factor is high when your brand is perceived to have “objective” 3rd parties talking about your great new product or service. When you pay to place an ad, the market assumes your claims are exaggerated. However, when an industry or consumer media source prints a story as an objective 3rd party, your brand’s honest association with the media endorsement is more believable.
A second reason to consider the advantages of PR over advertising is as a cost effective method of reaching your consumer. A single full-page ad in People® or Time® Magazine costs about $250,000 – for just one issue. It’s not hard to imagine why most startup companies don’t have the capital to invest for a full-blown ad campaign. However, the good news is that as long as you create value and differentiate your product, service and brand, there are ways to leverage interest and generate sales through PR placement. For example, IBM®, Intel® and Microsoft® are all industry giants not created through large media buys, but rather through PR spots and articles in Forbes®, the Wall Street Journal® and Business Week®. Starbucks® grew to the $6 billion plus powerhouse brand they are through PR and grass roots efforts – do you recall seeing a lot of ad campaigns for Starbucks?
Rise Above the Noise
The reason why the companies listed above are so successful is they create powerful brand strategies first – they generate something distinguished, valuable and new and pitch it to the media where well-planned stories, events and testimonials can quickly spread across a wide variety of publications and saturate the market for a much more limited investment of time and money than traditional media buys.
Another effective way to connect directly with your market in a believable, and interactive way is to create grass roots promotional events. Like a successful public relations approach, promotional event marketing also can be accomplished for less investment than traditional advertising campaigns. This year Hansens® Natural Beverages is cutting back on their colossal ad campaigns to reduce investments and grab a higher ROI with grass roots marketing. Increasingly, many major brands have followed suit: from Miss Tecate® talent contests, to celebrity signings, to Red Bull® branded vehicles showing up at sports events and passing out free caffeine buzzes, promo events can take any shape and target any group or market in a naturally interactive way. A nice side benefit is the ability to leverage PR spots for local media to run, increasing the value for your limited investment.
Plan to launch your company, product or service with a PR and promotional blast. Be innovative – do something unique and newsworthy, and connect with your market in a high-value, low-investment way. Then let that be the first step, never stop giving the media and your market new reasons to buy your product or service!
Kevin Daniels is a Principle rabble-rouser at Ruckus Creative, llc, with 20 years in advertising and marketing.
Ruckus Creative is a results-driven, full-service creative and branding agency
“Business results through strategic creative.”
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