Real PRogress

      29 Comments on Real PRogress

“Public relations has always played its part in the marketing mix, even if it was added to plans late and rarely recognized like other disciplines. But the emergence of skippable, blockable, opt-out-able advertising, not to mention ever-more integrated campaigns, means PR can suddenly demand more than a supporting role—and maybe even take center stage.”


Lindsey Stein

Tired of defending public relations? The above quote in a January Advertising Age article by Lindsay Stein is more proof that other professionals are finally recognizing PR’s place in the world of communication. That’s real progress. For too long and too often our profession has been disparaged by marketers, journalists and the public who see PR as spin–the purposeful altering of truth to achieve a desired outcome.

Stein’s article quoted Harris Diamond, CEO of McCann Worldwide, one of the world’s largest PR firms. “Clients increasingly understand that marketing is multichannel, and that the digital and experiential spaces lend themselves to magnification by PR,” he said. “More and more CMOs (chief marketing officers) are recognizing the power and importance of PR, and I’m seeing more practitioners in the field being involved in integrated campaigns, and that’s dramatically accelerated PR’s pace.”

Another example was noted by Stein: “‘At Chobani, where PR has always been a weapon to battle bigger-spending rivals, the discipline is becoming increasingly vital,’ according to Peter McGuinness, CMO for the Greek yogurt brand. The growing importance of PR is…a ‘macro-category trend’ because of highly curious consumers and the increasing need to reach them with brand information. Edelman, the largest independent PR agency, is ‘getting not just a seat at the table, we’re getting half the table,’ said Jackie Cooper, global chair-creative strategy at the firm.”

It’s not only because advertising will be “skippable and blockable” that makes PR more vital. A 2014 study from Nielsen found that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising. “With advertising, you tell people how great you are,” wrote Robert Wynne in Forbes. “With publicity, others sing your praises. Which do you think is more effective?”

Public relations students and professionals know the answer to that question. Your thoughts?

29 thoughts on “Real PRogress

  1. Vanessa

    PR is everywhere and is critical to every business/organization successfully informing its consumers/clients. There are many misconceptions about the industry and people tend to downplay the importance of the industry. PR puts a personally tailored message to advertising ads.

  2. Michael James

    Public relations is imperative to any successful business. I believe that the negative connotation associated with the practice is often out of the PR professionals hands . In major instances of disaster or highly sensitive information the words spoken come down the line from the top. The practice of PR and those who are PR professionals are rooted in the fundamental principles of PR which benefits the client and audience as a pure media. It’s great to see PR gaining some speed and recognition as it is a key component in the engine of business.

  3. Adam Engel

    PR has become much more acknowledged today then ever before. Good PR is very important for companies to have and here why. PR for an organization or individual is nothing but gaining exposure that allow to influence the audiences in creating a positive image just like advertising but in an altogether different manner and style.

  4. Josh Solomon

    Clearly going with a PR campaign over ads is much better. People don’t like it when they know you’re pushing a product in their face and trying to sell them something. Rather they hear something nice that you did to better than community than selling yourself as a commodity.

  5. Cam Keough

    I have no doubts at all that PR is more effective. A simple example of this, is when i am in class and I’m told something by a peer or professor, I am significantly more likely to believe it and adjust my life to what I was told. If i hear something in an ad on TV, I always dismiss it almost immediately. I always appreciate hearing something from a person or source that isn’t the company or source itself. I like to see and hear how something works, or doesn’t. Advertising is kind of a “look how great my product can be” and PR is a “look at how great this product has served these customers for these reasons. For that reason I believe that PR is far more effective.

  6. Brianna Beaumont

    PR is a more effective. Ads are now being overlooked and people tend to not listen to what the ads are saying, even if what they are saying is true. People want to know what the company is about, what they represent, how they treat their employees, and what their brand is. PR contributes to all of those things. Advertisements are about persuading someone to buy their product; PR is more than just persuasion. In the end, PR is just more credible than advertisements.

  7. Victoria Conway

    I am a firm believer that if someone is good at their craft, the craft speaks for them. Therefore, I don’t think singing your own praises is a good method to attract customers. I understand the importance of having self confidence and selling a product. However, I believe consumers would rather hear about your product from other people. In my opinion, if others speak highly of you, it means that they trust your product and consumers will take notice of that.

  8. Zhen Zhong

    PR is still a communications career – the world would not function without communication. I think I made my point.

  9. Katie Spoleti

    It’s frustrating to know that a lot of PR practitioners are constantly trying to defend themselves to combat against their “spin-the-truth” reputation. Every public figure and company, big or small, needs a solid public relations strategy to keep themselves or business in a positive light. I think that PR is more effective than advertising because it keeps you invested in the person or product. Advertising provides the initial intrigue but PR practitioners are the ones who keep consumers loyal to the brand.

  10. Tai Davis

    I am glad to read that there is an increasing need and respect for PR practitioners. This also means that there will be an increase in PR jobs and hopefully an increase in salary pay based on rankings. Public Relations not only helps gain positive publicity for a product or good but also makes sure the organization or company behind that product is in good standings with its consumers. I enjoy learning that PR is a field where all practitioners should try to be honest and ethical. With the increase in need for PR practitioners, hopefully this value is upheld.

  11. Jennifer OMalley

    I do find myself defending PR when I discuss my job or grad school major. Working in nonprofit, I feel that I see the field from such a different perspective than much of the public does. I only decided to return to school and get a higher degree because of how passionate I became about the cause-driven PR work that I ended up becoming a part of through the organization I work for. Unfortunately, public relations can and has been used unethically and for “spin” purposes. But, I have also seen the positive power of good public relations and it has inspired me to pursue this career. I understand why people are very skeptical and critical. I think that as PR continues to differentiate itself from advertising, the term “public relations” will further establish a credible image. PR is not just about making a sale, it can also be about changing hearts and minds and inspiring the public to act. That’s what I love about the field.

  12. stacyann nathan

    This is so true. Most people do Not realize the importance of PR. They think it’s only for celebrities and skewing the truth. But PR professionals do more than that. They can change, create and get conversations going about various topics. I’m glad people are now seeing the light.

  13. TheRianReport

    With the disastrous handling of the Wells Fargo scandal, there is no better way to see how important PR is to businesses. After WF released a full page “apology” in the Wall Street Journal, that visually looked more like an ad, and put forth a CEO to be questioned who decided not to answer any questions, it was clear that crisis PR was missing from their strategy. The apology ad was not from anyone and the CEO refused to accept accountability for wrongdoing by repeatedly denying he had any awareness of the issue. In the end, he was asked to step down and confidence, trust and public opinion of the bank is at an all time low. Hopefully bank officials will get the memo and hire a PR team instead of a law firm to get them back in public favor.

  14. Jordyn Miller

    As we all know, singing our own praises is very difficult, because we are all worried that we will seem conceited or untruthful because we cannot see ourselves the way others see us. The same applies for companies and corporations. While singing our own praises is important because we seem confident, we need others to validate what we are saying so our thoughts do not seem to be in vain. That is why public relations is important. Others need to hear good news from people they trust, rather than just from the source.

  15. Marielle McCartin

    I agree that PR is much more efficient than advertising. It is important to have advertisements to show the public what the brand is, but it is more important to show the public the credibility and popularity of the brand. The public will be much more inclined to purchase something if there is positive talk of the product amongst the community rather than reading an advertisement from the company trying to convince someone that this is the best product without any real life reviews.

  16. SShak

    It’s always great to hear that PR is taking a larger seat at the table in the industry. There has always seemed to be a fine line between ads and PR because some feel they coinside with one another. The fact is, PR is about the reputation you build, not only selling products. When other people advocate for your company, that is the biggest compliment and the best form of PR. In the reverse, the moment people begin to speak negatively about your organization, that is when a crisis is forming.

    All in all, PR is important whether or not people realize it yet.

  17. Anna Baxter

    As a PR student, of course I think that PR is very important in the modern market. While advertising and marketing may gain some publicity and positive responses, if the company has a bad image or needs more positive responses from its audience, then PR comes into action. I am happy that PR is finally starting to gain the recognition it deserves. i think that it is easy for other people to disregard Public Relations because they don’t truly understand it. If people actually understood everything that went into the work, then they may appreciate it more and PR would continue to gain recognition.

  18. Emily DiLaura

    As someone who appreciates both advertising and PR, I have found that both can be effective if they are used together, instead of against. Both are definitely something company needs, but as more people realize what advertising is, the more they hate it. Something I have found in my every day life is that when people ask me about my studies and what my major is, after explaining what PR is, most people go towards spin and advertising and bash on the career choice I’ve made. I then spend a good ten minutes explaining the differences and saying that not all PR and advertising is bad.
    Not too long ago, journalism and PR battled each other; it now seems that advertising and PR are doing the same thing almost.
    PR is the world of publicity and getting your brand’s name out there. There is a good chance paid advertising, some day, could become obsolete as social media and PR take over. I guess we’ll see what happens…

  19. Michael Esposito

    I believe that PR is so important to any organization/individual. Public Relations comes from a more honest place than marketing and I feel that the public knows when they’re being targeted for money and when the company actually cares about them.

  20. Justin Chupungco

    When friends, family, and co-workers ask me what my major is, I tell them PR. Many of them fail to know what public relations is or only have a vague understanding of it, and cannot even distinguish it from advertising. In advertising, things are exaggerated and blown up to gain attention. Companies, or advertisers say their product is great. But in PR, trust and relationships are built, and a third party says the party is great. This has a much stronger impact than someone saying their own product is great. When I look to buy something I always ask my friends who have the product how it is rather than believe an advertisement. PR is much more credible, and reliable over advertising. In the coming years it’s importance should only take center stage even more, and people may finally see the value of PR, and that it isn’t at all “spinning”, but something credible, valuable, and imperative.

  21. khaleik

    PR has always been the bridge between journalism and marketing for the simple fact that PR does both. Unfortunately the major rarely get the recognition it deserves. I feel like PR is underrated because most PR work is done in the background. The purpose of PR is to cater to others. Without PR’s , many businesses would not be as successful as they are now.

  22. dopabajo

    When I tell family members that I am going to school for PR, they always get this confused look on their face. Many people do not understand the importance of the PR field. PR is different than marketing or advertising because its purpose is to gain credibility. PR people build trust between the business and the consumer, which is essential to the longevity of any companies reputations. Advertisers usually involve paying for an opportunity. Many people see advertisers constantly over exaggerating their product. In addition, most advertisements are seen as misleading. But I believe that PR people can pride themselves on being honest with their audience to gain a true relationship with the consumer, I think that speaks volume.

  23. Diana Ziskin

    I don’t trust advertising. You can say anything you want about your own firm, and put it in print, that doesn’t make it reliable. Public Relations to an extent has more truth behind it, because the person reporting on the product, client or company is a third party. The words they publish to their audience is not paid for by the company and usually are sincere. Just because the publicist for the company pitched the story to the writer, doesn’t mean it can’t be reported on negatively if the client didn’t like the product. I had an ordeal where my pitch was spun by writer of the outlet, to portray my client, my email pitch and even myself in a very negative light. It even resulted in a social media video on a very popular website reading my pitch and mocking me and my client.

  24. Justin McCue

    Advertising is only half of the process of attracting and retaining customers. As Robert Wynne from Forbes said in the quote used in the blog post, “With advertising, you tell people how great you are, with publicity, others sing your praises.” Advertising serves the function of attracting the interest of customers. Public relations, however, is what gains trust from the customers to keep them from going elsewhere. Someone can be attracted to an advertisement, but that does not mean they trust the product offered or the company offering the product. Trust and honesty is key, and that is the main goal of public relations.

  25. hautehabibi

    When I told my friends I was going to purse my masters in PR, they thought I was insane. They kept telling me to purse a MBA or a degree in finance. But as time goes on PR has become a necessity to successful businesses especially because the use of social media has become more and more popular. PR creates happy customers and happy customers equates to more money and more business for a company.

  26. ariaishaokonofua

    In short, PR is CRITICAL to all outreach programs and campaigns. Once you put yourself in the face of public visibility, it is necessary that you do everything you can to engage and build a healthy relationship.

  27. Anthony Pugliese

    Overall, people do not like being lied to or mislead. Public relations thrives off of being honest and credible. When it boils down to it the public are not going to want to see an advertisement or a positive publicity stunt, the people want the pure truth. Obvious to say, people want PR. However, public relations benefits the companies/brands as much as the people. This is because public relations takes a stand to deliver what the people want without a cookie cutting process as advertisements tend to do. If the public is happy to depend and seek what public relations offer, so are the brands. Nevertheless, happy customer equals happy business. Public relations plays an admirable role under the marketing umbrella, because it reaches all goals of communication.

  28. Arianna du Manoir

    PR in this day and age has become much more effective than advertising. Nowadays people are able to avoid looking at ads through all forms of media. Netflix and Hulu for example offer memberships that allow viewers to watch their shows without any interruptions, and with DVR’s viewers can fast forward past advertisements.

    It is hard to look at an advertisement now without assuming that the message is lying to you or that there is more than what meets the eye. Through PR, the messages sent out too the public feel more personal and more intimate than a basic ad, naturally making one more willing to look further into the client they are representing.

    1. sadomablog

      It’s wonderful that PR is becoming more accepted and that its value is being recognized. Paid media, such as advertising, is much less trusted than a strategically placed article or quote that you can secure for a client. As time goes on I think the profession will be seen in an even more positive light.


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