While both fall under the marketing umbrella, public relations and advertising are built for very different goals, and having one does not remove the need to have the other. Advertising uses paid content to promote through different types of media, including online, TV, radio, etc. PR, on the other hand, is a communication method strategically built to develop a relationship between organizations, the media, and the public. PR allows companies to better communicate their key messages, company developments, and leadership expertise, while strengthening their position in the space.

As a result, PR’s “organic” approach to drawing media attention can be more challenging than with paid advertising; it takes more time, manpower, strategy, luck, and a superb story to draw up the kind of media storm most companies imagine for themselves when hiring a PR company. While features in the New York Times, Forbes, and Bloomberg, are not the day to day for most companies, there are other important aspects of PR that oftentimes go unnoticed. These less obvious points are why PR remains an essential part of a company’s marketing strategy.

The 8 characteristics of PR that advertising can’t buy:

  1. PR is credible – A leadership or company mention by a credible journalist tremendously boosts the credibility of the story; taking into account that the journalist has received nothing in return and the feature comes from a pure belief in the story.
  2. Word of mouth is effective – People love to share what they hear or read in a credible news source. When the story is new and in the media, they are more likely to share it with their peers.
  3. PR is news – To get into an article the content has to be new, relevant and up to date.
  4. Nothing but the truth– PR sticks to the facts; stories go through various filters and checks to ensure that they are real and factual.
  5. Good stories catch and move you – A good feature can have a strong impact on one’s subconscious. A story on sustainability with mentions of a company’s solution to climate change will be more likely to move you to take action than an online ad.
  6. The effect is long lasting – A good first impression can last forever. Reputation, status, and presence in the news are the three most important PR KPIs.
  7. Choose your audience –  Luckily, the world is made up of many different people with various different interests. PR allows companies to expand their reach and audience by building a strategy that focuses on different angles and approaches.
  8. PR gives the stage – Part of a company’s story is its leaders. Showcasing the company’s leadership and their individual accomplishments as well as their vision for the company is an important outcome of a PR strategy and a great way to gain people’s trust.

Competition in the business and consumer space is fiercer than ever, making brand awareness no easy feat. It’s difficult to analyze the success of PR, since unlike paid advertising, it cannot be measured by any direct data conversion. PR is an ongoing process of reputation building. For PR agencies, achievement is determined by the strength of the relationships built between the client and the media, and the extent of the customer’s brand positioning in the relevant industry. These KPIs require ongoing PR efforts and in turn, deliver the kind of long-lasting, positive brand awareness that advertising does not.