FAQs and PR Tips for the Marketing Communications Consumer

What's the difference between advertising and publicity?

How can I get the best return on my investment?

What are some tips for developing effective advertising and collateral?

What should I know about working with the news media?

What services can a good Marketing/PR company provide?

How important is good writing?

What's the difference between advertising and publicity?

There's an old saying that advertising costs money and publicity is free. While there’s some truth to that, it’s not that simple — you do "get what you pay for."

By way of comparison:

  • With advertising and with sales promotion collateral:
    • You create and control the message
    • You pay to place your message where it will be seen by your target audience
    • You recommend a "call to action" and measure the results
  • With public relations initiatives:
    • You develop a "news story" with a message that presents your company and its products and services in a positive light
    • You promote the newsworthiness of your story with reporters and hope they will publish or air your story in a favorable light
    • You hope your story reaches a valued audience and encourages readers or viewers to do business with you

Some other important considerations:

  • Advertising and sales promotion deliverables may be viewed by your audience with some degree of skepticism — after all, you're paying for the message. Publicity, on the other hand, is often viewed as more honest, since it's "filtered" by a knowledgeable and objective reporter.
  • With advertising and promotion you can be sure that your message will appear the way you intended, and reach the audience you intended. There's always some risk with a news story that facts may be may be misunderstood, overlooked or misrepresented.
  • Any successful marketing promotion technique costs money. Advertising and sales promotion collateral costs are often weighted toward the expense of media placements or the printing of deliverables, while cultivating relationships with reporters and promoting news releases, special events and other PR programs can be very labor intensive.

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How can I get the best return on my investment -- whatever choices I make?

For starters, work with experienced professionals who've "been there and done that." They'll help you develop a marketing communications strategy that's tailored to your business needs and your budget. They'll work with you to fine tune your messages and present options you can select from to reach your goals. In addition to good writing, look for good advice, honest recommendations, and professional follow-through that places a high value on quality and attention to detail.

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Any tips for developing effective advertising and marketing collateral?

Here are some success tips for ads, sales promotion collateral and direct mail:

  • Boil down your key messages to a very few, easy-to-understand statements
  • Focus on customer benefits, not a laundry list of product features
  • Have a specific audience in mind — if several, prioritize them
  • Have a specific objective in mind: what you want to accomplish
  • Include a "call to action" for customers that you can respond to and measure
  • Develop a "brand image" that can be carried throughout every project
  • Focus on building economies into every project
  • Get expert advice from an experienced Marketing Communications company

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What should I know about working with publicity and the news media?

Public relations is both an art and a science. Reporters are bright people working on deadline to bring factual, interesting stories to their audience. Effective PR is built on honesty and mutual respect -- often accomplished over time. If you have a newsworthy story to tell, a good reporter will be happy to help you tell it. An experienced PR professional can help you assess the news value, develop a PR plan, and make the right approach.

Some special considerations:

  • A successful news release:
    • Must contain real news, and it must be significant enough to warrant the reporter's investing time and his or her reputation on the story.
    • The story must legitimately be of interest to the publication's readers or the broadcast station's viewers.
    • Your company and/or its products may — and should — figure in that news. How to do that while making your news release a win-win proposition for the reporter and you is part of the art and science of good PR.
  • A successful media interview:
    • Presupposes that you know something about the reporter and why he or she wants to interview you, as well as the overall story in which you'll be a part.
    • Requires preparation and practice to address issues and messages.
    • Enables you to promote your own agenda and get your messages across while acknowledging the reporter's questions.
    • Provides a good opportunity to tell your story to a broad audience.
    • Includes some risk: there's no assurance how you will be quoted or characterized in the finished article or broadcast.

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What services can a full-service Marketing/PR Company provide?

A full-service marketing communications and public relations company can provide fresh ideas and a broad range of services for your business, including:

  • Announcement packages for new products and services
  • Content for Web sites, updated and refreshed on a regular basis
  • New product brochures and flyers for trade shows and marketing staff
  • A/V presentations for sales and marketing teams
  • e-Newsletters and special reports
  • Speeches and trade conference presentations
  • White Papers describing products and customer applications
  • Customer testimonial/customer reference stories
  • News releases announcing new products, services and special offers
  • Scripts for audio/visual presentations and customer teleconferences
  • Quarterly management and business reports

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How important is good writing to the success of my project?

We think good, clear writing is the cornerstone of any successful marketing communications project — and should be for yours! Good writing crystallizes what you want to say and sets your message apart. We pride ourselves on being excellent writers first and foremost. We work hard to understand what you want to communicate, then "cut to the chase" and deliver results. You'll be impressed how quickly we get it.

We’re quick studies on a wide range of subjects: from the computer industry to small businesses to science and technology. We'll be happy to discuss your project requirements — and to prove to you that quality and creativity don't have to come with an expensive price tag.

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