In the new media era, does PR augment advertising, or vice-versa? I have partnered with Gregg Voss to exchange guest posts on our respective blogs to debate the issue in point-counterpoint format. Following is Gregg’s take on how advertising augments PR. To read my thoughts on how PR augments advertising, visit Gregg’s blog.
The global economic recession that concluded the first decade of the new millennium exposed plenty ― and not just the misdeeds of Wall Street. It showed that the traditional advertising model used for decades truly needed a massive overhaul, in light of many factors, including the growth of the Internet and especially social media channels.
The implications of the recession for print advertising in particular have been significant. For example, citing data from the Newspaper Association of America, Zacks Equity Research recently reported that the publishing industry endured 16 straight quarters of advertising revenue declines. That included a 5.6% decline in Q2 2010, and a 9.7% decline the previous quarter.
But that same report noted something interesting – publishers aren’t as concerned about total circulation of printed copies as much as making sure those copies end up in the hands of target audiences. Here is where one can make an effective case that advertising augments PR in the post-recession era.
Several authors I look up to, like David Meerman Scott, have suggested that the web has essentially outmoded traditional advertising. Getting people to stop, look and read, view or listen to an ad is simply not as effective for companies than building relationships directly with customers, through web-based channels like social media and blogs. PR plays a key role here, of course, through content development and crisis communication.
But why can’t advertising participate in that process?
Here’s what I mean. The Interactive Advertising Bureau recently reported that Internet advertising was up 17% year-over-year in Q3 2010, to $6.4 billion. That suggests target audiences are shifting online, where social media, blogs and other community-centric channels reside.
Yes, companies encourage target audiences to “Like” them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, and hope they participate in their online community – which may or not be vibrant and appropriately staffed.
Why can’t a click on an ad put a prospect in the middle of a discussion that can aid in solving problem they have, moderated (or at least attended) by a company expert? For that matter, with increasing Internet bandwidth, why can’t a prospect click on an ad and be instantly connected via video conference with that company expert?
Of course, it will take budget and infrastructure to do that, but that has to be weighed against potentially much higher advertising ROI and gathering of rich customer data.
Maybe the question isn’t whether advertising augments PR, or vice-versa, but how the two disciplines should close ranks to maximize the customer experience, solve problems and drive sales and ROI.