Broadcast PR and Advertising are two effective and often used forms of product and service promotion. They share some similarities. Both have the objective of promoting a product or service, can appear live on air and can even share a similar purpose to a brand ambassador.
However, it is important to understand some fundamental differences when planning a marketing strategy with broadcast PR and advertising in mind. A broadcast PR campaign will involve several approaches to achieve its objectives. An experienced broadcast PR consultancy such as Broadcast Reach can help to ensure the best routes to the target audience are used, at the right time.
So what are the key differences between broadcast PR and advertising?
Broadcast PR is about having a compelling story that your target audience will engage with. Typically, a pitch will be made to a radio or television editor or producer. If the editor or producer deems the story noteworthy and of interest to their audience, they will invite someone from the organisation or a brand ambassador to discuss the topic on air.
Crucially, the company doesn’t pay for that airtime. Typically, a brand ambassador or spokesperson that is representing the product or service will be interviewed and will talk about the story in a way that will live on in the target audience’s consciousness.
The advantage of broadcast PR is that it feels more natural than advertising. With radio, TV and other advertising, the brand or organisation has complete control over the content and messaging. The audience isn’t being encouraged to go out and purchase something. Instead, the audience is being attracted by a story that an editor or producer has decided is newsworthy or interesting in some way for its audience.
One advantage of advertising is a strong focus on the call to action. The advert will be very direct in its aim of prompting the audience to buy something.
The real power of broadcast PR is in a story that is interesting enough for media editors and producers, that the client still has control of. The aim of a broadcast PR campaign is to deliver key messages to a target audience.
Part of the challenge in broadcast PR is that level of control compared to an advert. For example, whilst some influence on when a story appears on air can be exerted, ultimately, it will be the editor or producer of the programme who has control over what occurs before and after a broadcast. Also, the nature of broadcast PR is that there is an on-air conversation taking place. In some instances, the conversation may not be entirely focused on the key messages that the client wants to send out to its target audience.
With a TV or radio advert, there is more control. Organisations will request specific time slots and will sometimes pay a premium in pursuit of the more favourable ones, where more of their target audience will be present.
Adverts are not recorded live on air and therefore can be produced with more polish. The challenge in adverts is in conveying sincerity. The audience is aware that an advert is designed to promote a product or service and so they will be more guarded. An editorial interview is taking place because of the strength of the story and/or the credibility and relevance of the spokesperson or brand ambassador.
Adverts are often considered to be a necessary ‘burden’ of watching live radio or television. Nobody switches on their TV specifically to watch adverts. The show or programme that the audience is watching is being interrupted by adverts, which also puts the audience in a different frame of mind. Having said that, adverts will often have a relevance to the programme being shown. For example, travel-related adverts often appear in the ad breaks of travel programmes.
Typically, an advert will be in circulation for a defined period where it will appear regularly to reinforce a message. In a broadcast PR situation, the interview or story being told is part of the programme itself, which means the audience is more receptive to the story.
Ultimately, selecting which marketing tool to use is a matter of strategy. Advertising and broadcast PR have their place within a communications strategy and companies will often use both to achieve their communications goals.
There are many instances of well-executed adverts living long in the memory. Some have even become part of a society’s culture. There are also plenty of examples of how broadcast PR has achieved a similar outcome.