In The Conversational Marketplace PR Gains Momentum

The Economist: “News is what someone wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising,” said Reuven Frank, a former head of NBC news. So what sort of business is public relations (PR), which spends half its time huffing about bad news; and the rest puffing politicians, companies and celebrities?
The answer is that, for business, PR is an increasingly vital marketing tool—especially as traditional forms of advertising struggle to catch consumers’ attention. The goal of PR is usually to secure positive coverage in the media, and the well-worn tactics include calling a press conference, pitching stories directly to journalists, arranging eye-catching events, setting up interviews and handing out free samples. But as PR profits from advertising’s difficulties, it is taking up a host of new stratagems—and seeking to move up the corporate pecking order.
Some journalists regard PR people as a nuisance, or worse. Even so, PR is surprisingly effective, at least according to a recent study by Procter & Gamble, the world’s biggest consumer-products group. P&G is a firm that marketers pay a lot of attention to, not least because of its advertising budget of some $4 billion. It has always been at the cutting-edge of marketing—P&G is credited with inventing the television soap opera as a new way to sell goods. But with fewer people watching television and the circulation of many papers and magazines declining, the firm has become pickier about where it spends its advertising budget. Increasingly, it wants a measurable return on investment from its campaigns.
In a recent internal study, P&G concluded that the return was often better from a PR campaign than from traditional forms of advertising, according to Hans Bender, the firm’s manager of external relations. One reason is that in comparison with many other types of marketing, PR is cheap. In P&G’s case, it can represent as little as 1% of a brand’s marketing budget.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. This quote/maxim originates in 1914 England with Lord Northcliff, Press Baron, NOT Reuven Frank. Obviously Frank is PR and not the press else he would have accurately and honestly attributed.