When most people hear the terms public relations and advertising, they assume they mean the same thing, or at least assume there is a degree of interoperability between the two. In reality, there is a significant difference between them. The erroneous perception may stem from the fact that they both deal with information found in the media about a person or brand, making them both essentially “profile marketing”. The similarity, however, ends there.

The most significant distinction is that advertising is a regulated medium and also a direct medium. You may hear agencies refer to this as being “above the line”. Before paying the media to share the campaign, the corporation produces a campaign and the materials for it.

Because it creates a campaign and exchanges material with media sources, PR is significantly less restricted and you can pretty much say what you want. You’re paying, so it’s up to you.

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Advertising costs more than PR

When it comes to public relations, journalists, bloggers, and influencers are the field of influence we are seeking to access and influence. The recipient must determine what to do with the information provided by the public relations firm. The cost of public relations is a fraction of the expense of advertising – or so it is generally assumed (this can be true and untrue, depending on your approach, expectations, need and exact specified deliverables).

The ability of public relations to participate in new ways of media consumption, such as in social media and the newer and more recently emerged social channels like TikTok and Clubhouse, in a more fluid and adaptable manner has contributed to this expansion – and the Thai market is no exception. That seems encouraging until you consider ad spending in the United States, which is currently at $210.5 billion per year, despite recent annual drops. Thailand follows similar patterns, with more businesses relying on direct digital sell even post pandemic.

When compared to advertising, the PR industry is a small slice of the pie; but, there’s no reason why it can’t continue to grow and capitalise on its market agility. Agencies in Bangkok are uniquely placed to support clients through communications endeavours which are proven to be effective in capturing interest, growing audience reach and in building brand credibility.

Importance of content in the consumer decision

According to a Nielsen study commissioned by inPowered on the role of content in the customer decision making process, public relations is around 90% more effective than advertising. Compared to sponsored content, expert content boosted familiarity by 88 percent. This survey considered its metrics to be both qualitative and quantitative, and are subject to personal interpretation based on past experiences, of course.

According to Poper Public Fairs, 80 percent of company decision-makers prefer articles delivered in a series of articles against and to advertising. The Holmes World Report revealed that the Top 250 PR firms had earned more than $10 billion in fee revenues for the first time, totalling $10.4 billion, indicating the industry’s development.

Furthermore, the Holmes Report reveals that independent businesses are on the upswing, whilst publicly traded businesses have had significantly less growth. The expansion of independent firms is astounding, and it begs the question of whether their worth will eclipse that of publicly traded companies, according to its own findings. The report noted that, “It’s interesting to see that publicly-held companies account for around 42% of the overall market, down from 45% last year – this could be a reflection of the fact that profit targets may have limited their ability to invest as freely in those all-important ‘non-traditional services’ as independents.”

Budget increases are occurring in Thailand nationwide too, and across the myriad of sectors, with social media offering a substantially higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional media, up to 15% more in some cases. This is largely due in the main part of accessibility costs.

Mobile advertising

According to Statista, mobile advertising, which has already experienced tremendous growth, is predicted to top $250 billion in 2022. Other forms of advertising do not appear to be experiencing such a significant increase.

The Guardian reported on YouGov and Deloitte research that once again emphasised the importance of public relations above advertising. According to the report, more than half of those polled claimed they recall television commercials the best. When watching recorded television, by way of comparison, however, 86 percent of the same respondents indicated they fast-forward through them. Indeed, TV advertising is considered very “last-gen”, and is too expensive for most companies to consider anyway.

Even as the media landscape shifts irreversibly, the old adage that advertising is what you pay for and publicity is what you hope for still holds true. Getting professional assistance is one method to ensure that your prayers are answered.

While both advertising and public relations can raise favourable exposure for a company, public relations is defined as a purposeful communication strategy that fosters mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and the general public.

PR powerful connection instead of advertising

The purpose of public relations is to benefit both the organisation and its stakeholders. The purpose of public relations is also to build and maintain positive connections with a company’s stakeholders, which can range from consumers and investors to employees, suppliers, community members, and the media. Organizations can communicate with their audiences in a variety of ways, and public relations is only one of them. In practise, public relations can encompass a wide range of tasks, including:

Media relations (communicating with journalists and other members of the media)

Crisis management (anticipating and minimising negative publicity)

PR strategy and brand campaign (promotions, advertising, sales presentations)

Social media management (listening to online conversations about your brand)

• Management of problems (responding to political controversies or activist campaigns)

• Internal communication is important (communicating with employees)

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