Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ituloy AngSulong: Public Relations 101 for the IT Sector Lesson 1 of 4: Advertising vs. Public Relations

I'm currently working on e-mail learning series on public relations. As the materials are still under development, I decided to post it here to finetune it further and get reaction from readers like you on its content.

Special thanks to Mel Dominguez of Dominguez Marketing Communications for becoming my resource person for this 4 lessons e-learning series.


Public Relations 101 for the Information Technology Sector
Lesson 1: Advertising vs. Public Relations

When do you need public relations? What is it really all about? When do I need it?

This is a common question I receive whenever I encounter a new company wanting their product or service be promoted. Although getting your news across can be done that way, among others, I often suggest to companies to explore getting a public relations (PR) consultant as getting much needed exposure does not come too easily to everyone. It also requires a lot of effort that instead of focusing in the business, it can take your time away as well.

Public relation is not advertising or free publicity, although a lot of people confused such with it.

It is not free publicity because nobody's time is free. As a company, you will need to invest in planning it, allotting time, and build relationship. You aim to disseminate information in an objective manner that aims to educate and create understanding to your specific target market.

According to Mel Dominguez, CEO of Dominguez Marketing Communications, "Although PR and advertising are similar forms of communication, there are major differences between the two. For one, PR has wider scope than advertising, although advertising is more costly; PR encompasses everyone and everything in an organization while advertising is limited to special selling and buying tasks."

Dominguez Marketing Communications is one of the well-known public relations firm in the information technology industry where it specializes. It handles prominent clients like Avaya Philippines, HP Philippines, Juniper Networks, IP Ventures Group, IP E-Games, among others.

"In advertising, you can use the most imaginative and creative means to communicate. Thus superlative claims are acceptable. In contrast, a press release has to sound like NEWS. Therefore you cannot use words as "The ultimate, etc." as a PR goal is to impart knowledge. Good public relations should be factual, unbiased, and free of self-compliment."

A full page advertisement in newspapers would normally cost no less than one hundred thousand (P100,000). Even if a little costly, it gives the company more control on the content, schedule, and location of the publicity.

On the other hand, when a company generates publicity through PR, it doesn't pay for the space its story occupies. One PR disadvantage would be that you have very little control over when your publicity will see print. It could be anywhere from the following day, the following week, month, or not at all. The schedule, size and location will solely be dependent on the editor's discretion.

As an analogy, advertising is similar to an actor on stage where one can be flamboyant, can wear many roles or hats or can dress in the most colorful costumes. Creativity and imagination is limitless.

PR is like your man on the street but it is more than just publicity. Company history, financial success and stability, quality of products or services, industrial relations and reputation, employer image, social responsibility, and research inclination

If you have a bad product or service, no advertising can achieve lasting results. "PR is not image-making, rather, image-building. First of all, we cannot manufacture an image for you. Whatever strength that your company has is what we will highlight to your market. It is important that a company has a positive desired image. Then, communicate it to your audience or market," Mel explained.

Thoughts to ponder:

1. Cite an example of a company whom you find its public relations campaign to be noteworthy and fairly consistent.

2. What impression did the company impart through its public relations campaign to readers or industry observers like you?

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