Ohio University ImPRessions

Ohio University ImPRessions

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The Difference Between Advertising and PR – A Simplified Version

July 25, 2014 1 Comment

By: Kate Schroeder @kschroeds7

PRI’ll admit it. Even as a strategic communications student, I’ve had difficulty explaining to people who ask about my major what the difference is between public relations and advertising. Going into my senior year as a strategic communications student, I have a good deal of knowledge of each industry. However, when asked this simple question I end up rambling on all the differences between PR and advertising pros,– usually leaving my non-journalist counterpart thoroughly confused and in need of an aspirin.

Looking back I wish someone had given me a simple, cut-and-dry answer to this not so simple question my freshman year at OU. I knew plenty about the world of news, but no one could seem to give me a simple answer to, “what the heck is this PR and advertising stuff I keep hearing about?”. Even though both careers are in the Scripps School of Journalism, transferring from news and information to strategic communication was like learning a new language. So for all you strategic communication newbies, let’s take it one step at a time and finally get this question straightened out!

“Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”

Advertising

The main goal of advertising is to create ads and campaigns and place those in appropriate outlets to allow their message to build exposure. Advertisers want to impact as many people as many times as possible or specifically impact their target market depending on the product. Unlike public relations, advertising has complete creative control of the message it is promoting, but can be extremely expensive.

What advertising is trying to say: “Buy this product”.

Public Relations

Where advertising is paid media, public relations is earned media. A public relations specialist will take the brand and works to build the brand credibility. This is mostly done through media relations, which is working with reporters and editors to write positively about your client or brand. This can also be done through social media! Work done through public relations tends to have more credibility than advertisements, because the content was not paid for. This builds trust between your brand and the public

What public relations is trying to say: “This is important”.

What makes them similar?

The reason it is sometimes hard to explain how advertising and public relations differ is because they both share a main goal. Both help a company or product gain exposure in a positive way. Also, both avenues target a specific audience, also called a target audience with their message.

 

 

What a Service Industry Job Taught Me About PR

April 7, 2014 2 Comments

Server-Job-DescriptionLike many teenagers trying to earn a little money, I spent quite a bit of time working a service industry job. My senior year of high school, I got a job as a dining room server at a local retirement home, and I genuinely loved working there. The facility where I worked was brand new (I was hired within a month of its opening) and seemed more like a cheerful, upscale hotel than a stereotypical depressing old folks’ home. More than that, though, I enjoyed getting to know the residents and bonding with my coworkers. For a 17-year-old working her first non-babysitting job, I’d been pretty lucky.

One thing that never really entered my mind while I was working there was the fact that I was, in a way, promoting our business and selling our services. And while working at a public relations agency hardly seems comparable to serving food to old people, many of the core qualities of a great PR professional can be gained through service industry jobs, from waiting tables to working in retail. I didn’t know it at the time, but that service job was giving me some of the key skills I’ll need in my future PR career.

  • Have a positive attitude. Those who have worked service jobs have probably heard it a million times: smile and act like there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. A disgruntled server or store clerk who clearly doesn’t enjoy his or her job isn’t going to make anyone want to return to that place of business. Even if you’re having the worst day ever, don’t let it show – especially when you’re interacting with customers. Your attitude says a lot, and if you’re not enthusiastic about the company, then why should they be?
  • Stay calm and professional in a crisis. Everyone who’s worked in the service industry has had at least one (and probably more) experience with an unsatisfied customer. Even though you probably wouldn’t realize it, you’re gaining valuable crisis communications skills while dealing with customers who want their food sent back to the kitchen because it wasn’t prepared to their liking. Getting angry and overly defensive isn’t going to solve anything – instead, keep your head on straight and do what you can to fix the situation.
  • Know your product. This might seem like a no-brainer to seasoned PR professionals, but it’s absolutely important to know everything possible about what you’re promoting or selling. We had to memorize the specials for each meal as well as the soups of the day, and there was nothing more embarrassing than when a resident or guest had a question about a menu item that I couldn’t answer. If you’re working with a client or doing in-house work for a company, make sure you stay in the loop about new product and service updates so you can adjust your promotion strategy accordingly.
  • Listen to your customers. Great PR, marketing and advertising campaigns typically come as a result of tailoring the promotional approach to customers’ specific needs, rather than blindly mass-promoting something. If customers in a restaurant or store speak up with a question, problem or even a compliment, take it seriously and keep what they said in mind for the future. When residents at my workplace raved about a certain dish, we made sure to offer it more often; likewise, we did away with unpopular entrees that not as many people enjoyed. If lots of customers like or need a certain product, it makes sense to promote that, as opposed to wasting time and money promoting something that they find unappealing or useless.

While not always easy, working in the service industry is a great way to learn how to deal with people. There will be customers who seem to have no intention beyond making your life miserable, but it’s important to learn how to deal with them in a professional manner. However, there will be others who absolutely make your day and remind you why you do what you do. No two days are the same in either a service or PR setting, and you never know what you’re going to get.

Lindsey Zimmerman is a sophomore studying Strategic Communications and specializing in Spanish. You can follow her on Twitter at @lindseyzim716.

Think Big, Get Results

March 21, 2014 1 Comment

It’s hard to stand out in the competitive world of PR and advertising. Yes, there are certainly safe, go-to marketing strategies that have stood the test of time. But to get real results, you have to get a little crazy. Throw caution to the wind! Color outside the lines! Think outside the box! Whichever cliché saying you prefer, the point is that the best PR practitioners don’t rely on tradition and the molds of conventional campaigns. Here are examples (in no particular order) of some adventurous campaigns, stunts, and ads.

  1. HBO’s True Blood: Revelation marketing campaign. This marketing campaign got True Blood’s already loyal fan base even more hyped about the show. The creative geniuses behind the campaign, Campfire (check them out!), sent vials of red liquid with labels in a “dead language” to horror bloggers. They created a “vampire-only” website called BloodCopy.com. They put up fake PSAs that promoted equal rights for vampires in major cities. This campaign piqued people’s interests and was a creative way to get people interested in the show.
    ELFYOSELF
  2. Office Max’s Elf Yourself. THESE WILL NEVER GET OLD. I’m fairly certain everyone has uploaded pictures of themselves and their friends into this 2006 interactive E-card invention. Over half a billion shares later, it’s a beloved tradition. When these start showing up on your Facebook feed, Christmas is near! Office Max found a fun way to get their name out there – over and over and over again. Creative partners: Jason Zada, EVB, and Maccabee Group.
    TACOBELL
  3. Taco Bell’s Twitter. First of all, let’s talk about Taco Bell’s Twitter.  One word: HILARIOUS! (They have an awesome presence on Instagram as well.) They know the importance of sharing pictures and interacting with their followers. They retweet and respond to their fans – sometimes celebrities, sometimes run-of-the-mill chalupa lovers – and just seem like a cool 20-something who happens to be a Mexican fast food chain. Their strongest customer demographic, the 18-34 age group, loves the casual-cool persona that Taco Bell has created. Just ask their 1.09 million followers.
  4. Taco Bell’s Mir Space Station Promotion. Ok, so Taco Bell is kind of a 2-for-1 in this list. In March 2001, Taco Bell held a promotion to coincide with the re-entry of the Mir space station. They put a huge target in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and announced that if the target was hit by a falling piece of Mir that every person in the United States would win a free Taco Bell taco. They bought a hefty insurance policy for this stunt, but alas, no piece struck the target. The point is that they got people excited! AND a lot of media attention. Good job, Taco Bell!
  5. Athens Bicycle’s Gravel Rouser. Every year since 2004,Athens Bicycle hosts the Gravel Rouser, a four-day event of races and relays. The fun is that any one can win the 4 quirky events. It’s meant to be a light-hearted way to kick off the biking season. What started off as just an “Athens thing” now brings people to Atheathensbikens from all over Ohio. It includes a ride along a wooded path – hooked up with speakers blasting classic rock, a scavenger hunt around Athens, a donut party and a lot more. Athens Bicycle found a way to get their name and logo out there, gain some fans and increase business. By the way, it started yesterday!

These are just a few examples of businesses that weren’t afraid to get a little wild. Being bold pays off! It takes a lot of planning and creativity, but the next time you have a goal, take these businesses’ lead and think BIG (in the good way). Like Dr. Seuss said:

“why blend in when you were born to stand out?”

Elaine Carey is a junior studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @snakesona_laine.

Super Bowl XLVII: The Best and Worst of 2013

February 8, 2013

Briagenn Adams

Not only is the Super Bowl the biggest night for American football fanatics, but it’s also one of the biggest events for PR superstars and advertising addicts alike. During the 2013 Super Bowl this past Sunday, one 30-second advertisement went for as much as a record $4 million. Or – in other terms – about $133,333 per second of TV time. That’s almost enough money to pay for an Ohio University education seven years over. Whoa.

So, which companies spent their money wisely, and who would have done better investing elsewhere? PR daily named three of the best and three of the words advertisements this year.  

Let’s start with the worst. Honestly, who didn’t cringe during the GoDaddy.com kiss commercial? For many, that camera angle was a bit too close for comfort. The now-notorious lip lock that lasted a whopping 10 seconds took up 1/3 of the entire commercial, and cost the company almost $1.4 million. Talk about an expensive date!

Also in the running for worst commercial of 2013 was Beck’s Beer Sapphire advertisement, singing beta fish and all. There might have been an inside joke hidden in the ad somewhere, but we’re not getting it. Beta luck next time, Beck’s!

Last but not necessarily least was the Wonderful Pistachios “Gangnam Style” ad. Although this song has had its share of international acclaim over the past year, people were not pleased by its reappearance during the Super Bowl XLVII.

On a more uplifting note, other companies spent their money very, very well.  PR Daily has praised Audi, Best Buy and Taco Bell for having the best Super Bowl commercials of 2013.

Audi immortalized the secret dream of every teenage boy – to steal the Prom Queen’s heart and impress his entire school – during their 60-second time slot. The hashtag, #BraveryWins was tweeted over 3,000 times following the memorable commercial. Viewers couldn’t help but cheer with the boy as he drove his father’s Audi off into his own sunset of eternal high school glory.

Next on the list of best Super Bowl commercials was Best Buy’s hilarious escapade with comedian Amy Poehler.  Although anything Amy does is bound to be brilliant, Best Buy’s ad provided some much-needed and appreciated comedic relief during the nail-biting Super Bowl game.

And finally, Taco Bell’s, “Viva Young” commercial was a top rated ad. We all knew this was coming! The endearing performance of senior citizens going wild and living up the night could have made even the biggest fast-food hater crave nachos.

Some other memorable ads included Budweiser’s classic reunion story of a Clydesdale horse and his loving owner, Volkswagen’s controversial “Get In, Get Happy” Jamaican ad and Doritos’ makeup-clad, “Fashionista Dad” getup.

No matter the actual outcome of Super Bowl XLVII, the advertisements were, for the most part, all winners that night. 

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