I never get tired, when I’m being interviewed about my book BITE THE DOG: Build a PR Strategy to Make News That Matters, of dropping a fact that surprised even me when I ran across it doing my research. As I wrote in Chapter 1:
A 2014 study by Nielsen on the role of content in the consumer decision-making process concluded that PR is almost 90 percent more effective than advertising. “On average, expert content lifted familiarity 88 percent more than branded content,” the report concluded. Robert Wynn, a contributor to Forbes magazine, which published the study’s findings, added that he thought Nielsen’s number was low.
“With advertising, you tell people how great you are,” he said. “With publicity, others sing your praises. Which do you think is more effective?”
I point out, pretty much immediately afterward, that this doesn’t mean advertising (paid media) is never a good bet, only that PR (earned media) is usually a better one. “Advertising builds awareness; PR builds affinity,” I concluded. “Both are megaphones that can amplify your message, and there are compelling arguments to be made that pairing them helps your voice carry farther, but only one makes you sound sweeter to the folks who are listening.”
Every time you commit news, you are being affirmed by an authority other than yourself as an author, expert, speaker, coach or consultant. Implied by the headline and the story under which it falls is that you possess some insight, or sell a product, or offer a service, deemed sufficiently worthy to be shared with that authority’s audience. Anybody with enough money can pay for an ad, but not everybody gets stories done on them, right?
That’s why it’s called earned media. And it doesn’t just feel good when you bring home that bacon. It does your profile and your bottom line good, as well.