Posts in Advertising

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Teresa Todd
Point of View Communications
August 12, 2014

Advertising vs. Public Relations: Is there a difference?

The difference between advertising and public relations has been debated and disputed as long as each practice has been, well, practiced. There are explicit black-and-white differences, striking similarities and an emerging gray area, confusing everyone from industry experts to clients to consumers. A recent Forbes piece by public relations professional Robert Wynne explains the real difference between PR and advertising.

The first line alone makes this a great read: There’s an old saying: "Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for." In the simplest of terms, advertising is paid for, and therefore owned. Public relations is unpaid, and therefore earned.

Advertising is a direct “buy” a company creates and pays for to position itself in the media. Public relations earns media placements through relationships with the media. As Wynne states, “This means you convince reporters or editors to write a positive story about you or your client, your candidate, brand or issue.  It appears in the editorial section of the magazine, newspaper, TV station or website, rather than the paid media section where advertising messages appear.”

Public relations has the advantage of credibility. A third-party endorsement from an independent, trusted source earns the trust of the public the same way a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or family member would.

Advertising has the advantage of control. Public relations does not have a guarantee over what, if anything, will be covered. Advertising controls every aspect of a message: content, creation, delivery, medium and audience. With public relations, the media has the inherent right to say whatever it wants about an organization, no matter what the PR practitioner says. Another age-old saying, “All publicity is good publicity” has proven to be anything but true. Just ask Donald Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers.

In addition to paid vs. unpaid and credibility vs. control, the final outcome in the advertising vs. PR debate lies in just that: outcomes. Wynne explains the managing and measuring of outcomes with this anecdote: “A former client purchased one full-page ad in a popular weekly newsmagazine that cost him $125,000.  He expected a wave of phone calls, viral media and multiple conversations about the ad.  Instead, he got zero.  In contrast, getting quoted in the New York Times, Forbes and Reuters resulted in national speaking invitations, calls from new and existing clients, and solid credibility.”

As different as advertising and public relations may have been in the past, the convergence of media and the emergence of social media has blurred the black-and-white lines between the two into a veritable gray area. While some of these age-old differences still hold true in some instances, a rapidly evolving modern media landscape has narrowed the tangible distinctions between the disciplines. Integrated communications has become the new norm, combining campaigns that used to be solely advertising or strictly public relations into something else entirely. Campaigns now consist of a combination of traditional and digital advertising, social media, earned media coverage, special events, and endorsements - any way to spread a message across multiple platforms. While public relations and advertising will still have philosophical differences, evolving media platforms will continue to stimulate convergence. 

Teresa Todd
Point of View Communications
February 27, 2013

Marketing Trends for 2013

First the good news: budgets, particularly public relations budgets, are projected to increase for 2013, mobile social media will continue to rise as consumers’ vehicle of choice, strategic focus on content marketing will continue to build, and unprecedented volumes of data on client profiles and buying habits will continue to build challenging even the most experienced marketer. The bad news: how to use all this newfound knowledge to your advantage.

The fields of advertising, public relations and integrated marketing are always changing and evolving, and year 2013 will be no exception. There are numerous trends that may completely change the face of what we know.

In 2012 we witnessed more social media integration and visual storytelling, fewer product stories and plenty of hyper-local marketing. Pinterest emerged as the newcomer social media site for communicating visually. Marketers adapted by increasing the number of graphics, images, and videos used to communicate a message and visually tell their story. Trending upward, the two highest growth areas in public relations budgets in 2013 will be for social media and video production. Conference travel and event participation will take a significant nosedive in budget importance.

Another facet of social media and marketing in general showing growth for 2013 is the mobile marketing scene. Finding new ways to be relevant and advertise through these devices with their small-sized screens will be important. Promoted tweets and posts, and sponsored stories will replace traditional banner ads. Intrusive or not, these native ads let brands reach clients directly on their home streams and read like user-generated content, giving them the glow of credibility.

Many companies are focusing on hyper-local targeting. The explosion of mobile device usage commands more mobile-centric strategies and content. These should be designed to meet individualized needs for geographic locations.

Among projected trends in B2C and B2B marketing for 2013 is a need for corporate storytelling. Essentially these are stories within larger stories, or micro stories. They help connect individuals with companies and products, driving interaction.

Another major focus for 2013 will be strategic communication and content marketing. This requires a look at what information is being marketed, revisiting strategic communication objectives, and making sure there are accurate metrics in place for reporting results. Many B2C organizations rely heavily on marketing content on popular platforms, such as Facebook, mobile content, mobile apps, and print assets.

In a world that is being constantly inundated with data, professionals are looking into revising strategies to manage this transformation. Measurement and benchmarking are a major issue facing professionals in 2013.  At the beginning of last year, the challenge was to have more data to drive decision making processes. By the end of 2012, analytics prevailed and a pivotal game changer emerged. Look no further than 29-year-old Daniel Wagner, chief analytics officer for President Obama’s reelection campaign, who rose to superstar status in the course of one election cycle as his data-crunching team plowed through mountains of data to create voter behavior models that key decisions were based upon.

Applying what was learned in a highly contested political campaign and moving forward into 2013, marketers will need to embrace metrics. Keeping track of everything from likes, re-tweets, page views, brand awareness and sentiment analysis is now part of the business model.

This year collaboration remains key for large organizations. Many companies have had success by combining their brand management functions of marketing departments with their reputation management functions of PR departments. Market values built on teamwork will reach audiences and inspire emotion. This aids in the ever-daunting task of maintaining brand relevancy.   

As an aside, there is much to be said about mentoring and reverse mentoring, no matter what the discipline. There is a great need for multigenerational coaching to occur. You could think of it as Baby Boomers teaching Millennials on tried-and-true methods of communication, while the Millennials help the Boomers understand up-and-coming technologies. Finding ways to continue to learn and grow from one another will be a successful combination. 

The year 2013 brings its own set of challenges, such as managing the wealth of information available on buying trends. Keeping the aforementioned trends in mind will help as you transition into 2013, providing new opportunities or, perhaps, resolutions to existing conflicts. 

Teresa Todd
Point of View Communications
February 27, 2013

To Pin or Not to Pin?

Teresa Todd
Point of View Communications
May 30, 2012

Social Media Policy Protocols: Who’s Telling Your Story?

Published in the San Fernando Valley Business Journal (April 2011)

If nothing else, the past few years will be remembered as a bonanza of social media frenzy. Facebook exploded with a vengeance, Twitter chirped its way into mainstream American business, and blogs became personal megaphones. What’s more, YouTube, Hulu and Ustream videos knocked primetime networks on to their collective backsides.

Yes, it has been a heyday for new, hip and edgy but not so good for tried, true and tested.

But even this newfound blitz of marketing in the moment with its plethora of emerging technologies couldn’t change one core principle that remains untouched: content is still king.

For any business, content is what differentiates it from competitors. It’s the connection that resonates with customers, followers, viewers and users. It is storytelling, brand differentiation and a company’s lifeblood all rolled into one. Content is the essence of the experience.

Social media engages users and builds communities giving the old adage “any friend of yours is a friend of mine” new context. Interactions are relationship-based and operate with the same third-party credibility that has long been the hallmark of public relations. It’s PR to a higher power with its ability to engage audiences and pull them into a brand’s conversation.

As with any great evolution, social media is beginning to move beyond strategy and tactics, listening and monitoring, metrics and RO. Creative content has risen to take its rightful place in the social media marketing mix.

Create relevance.

Not all online buzz is noteworthy nor does it require attention. However, social media has turned everyone even remotely associated with your brand into a potential ambassador, for better or worse. Listening and responding appropriately are key to managing your company’s reputation and fostering a relationship with current and potential customers. Understand where users are in the awareness/interest/desire/action continuum and align your strategies to drive users to take a particular action.

Build a following.

The prevalence of relevant links is important to cross-pollinating online content to rank higher in search results, and capture and keep audience attention. Social media is about cultivating relationships and building a loyal fan base of individuals interested in what you have to say and offer.

Analyze the competition.

Just as a business monitors conversations occurring with their own customers, social media offers a way to examine conversations involving competitors. What are the advantages and disadvantages of competitive product offerings as compared to your own? Where does your company fall within the industry as compared to your competition? What insight can be gleaned as to how customers make decisions regarding products or services?

React quickly.

Taking an industry-wide approach, social media provides the means to identify trends and changes as they occur. Shift happens and being among the first to spot trend changes allows a company to react quickly and maintain a competitive advantage.

Personalize the message.

Marketers have always tried to put the right message in front of the right people, but with mixed outcomes. Social media allows companies to customize their messages to reach specific target audiences through the communication channels users prefer most.

Establish policies.

Beyond the creative and engaging side of content are fundamental determinations that must be made within every organization: Who is telling your story, how is content generated, and what impact does it have on your company?

When establishing social media policy, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Every business is unique in defining the role social media plays within their organization. Example, social media policy within a law firm where client confidentiality is paramount will be vastly different than that of a technology company that encourages employees to post and tweet about their work.

With the commercialization of social media sites, it can be a powerful force in driving new business, increasing brand awareness and building relationships. But it’s also a forum that employees use for purposes outside of business.

In establishing policies and protocols, where should the line drawn between personal and professional online behaviors?  What about First Amendment rights to free speech? How do businesses protect themselves when the employee’s personal and professional lives are inextricably linked? Is it possible to separate the employee as an individual from the employee as a representative of the company?

Bottom line, engaging content and monitoring social media conversations is paramount to an online strategy. It not only enables companies to combat negative setbacks, but also identifies and develops opportunities, and solidifies relationships. Interactions become a function of the experience the audience has with a brand. Make it a good one.

Teresa Todd is president and CEO of Point of View Communications, LLC and Social Media Communications, Santa Clarita-based marketing, communications and advertising/public relations agencies located at 28422 Constellation Road in the Valencia Industrial Center. She can be reached at (661) 257-4440 or by email at | | 

Teresa Todd
Point of View Communications
April 23, 2011

Like Walls: Does it dilute your brand?

Trending in social media are Like walls, whereby a brand’s Facebook landing page requires an obligatory "Like” before access to the main page is granted. And why would someone "Like” a page if a nexus to that brand doesn’t already exist? It’s usually because the brand is offering incentives or another compelling reason.

Christopher Heine in his article "Want This Facebook Offer? Better 'Like' Us First” poses the question as to whether this tactic dilutes the brand’s fan base.

So is "fan-gating” the one-night stand equivalent of social media? It certainly could be but, then again, it might just be a way for savvy marketers to megaphone messages out to a larger public and create meaningful relationships.  

Sure, some will unlike you right away after they’ve achieved the incentive (not every one-night stand is epic) but for those who stick around to smell the morning coffee, it’s a chance to make a good second impression. In other words, you’ve got their attention so give them a reason to stay and engage with your brand.