Mixing up the Marketing Mix
5th January 2018
In our final part of a three-part series, Bannerton Managing Director, Sharon Bannerton, discusses specific PR initiatives including sponsorship and how to maximise the business return.
Advertising and public relations generally complement each other, and each has specific attributes the other cannot deliver. Media control is generally better with advertising as you’re paying for a specific message in a specific space, whether that’s a billboard in Skerries or Castlebar or the inside cover of a magazine. PR can deliver profile and coverage in the desired media too, but controlling when and how it will appear is less certain.
Credibility is the area where PR always wins out! Written and published by an independent media source, editorial or feature material on your company, opinion or initiative will be seen as impartial, and will hold more sway with readers or listeners than a pure advertisement, which is viewed as ‘paid-for’ and therefore biased.
Cost-wise, a PR agency charges for their time, creativity, and media liaison alone. So, depending on their effectiveness in securing the coverage you want, especially with national media, PR will generally eat into less marketing spend than the advertising rate for the same media exposure.
Whether you opt for PR, advertising or direct promotions, or ideally a mix of all three, it all depends largely on who you want to influence, how time crucial the messaging is, how newsworthy it is and the extent of control needed in conveying the message.
There is no right or wrong answer, and there can be an element of trial and error, as with most business decisions.
One piece of advice though is to talk to companies in a similar position whose PR or advertising you admire. Ask how they came to their marketing choices, and how effective they are. Any marketing manager, unless your direct competitor, will be flattered you admire their work and happy to share their experience.
Ireland’s marketing agencies too are among the best on a world stage – in fact many are affiliated with major global groups – and will happily talk to you about options and investment and likely return, on a no obligation basis!
If you come to us in Bannerton, we’ll even throw in a free cup of coffee!! Now that’s good PR!
Sponsorship is an advanced PR tool, mainly for brand-building, corporate profile and awareness. It provides news, promotion, branding, events, speaking and merchandising opportunity.
Important to note – sponsorship is a commercial agreement, and not altruism, and you should agree terms that provide commercial or other business advantage!
Select your sponsorship according to the interests of the specific markets you want to reach, or something that is in line with attributes you associate your company with; community, sporting, young, eco-aware, upmarket, social conscience etc.
Although perceived as expensive there are sponsorships for all budgets; from the local tennis club to the TV weather forecast, and many sponsorships have longevity, where a year-long PR programme can be built around them.
Remember your ‘activation’ budget should at least match the sponsorship fee – ideally double it. If it’s costing €1,000, be prepared to spend at least €2k to profile your support.
Do not just pay for a sponsorship and walk away, expecting the recipients to generate a return for you. Plan and manage all the ways to promote it, from a release announcing the deal, to prize presentations, signage or branding, social media shout-outs and competitions, a web-link, or a display on your premises.
Why use a PR Agency?
Savvy business people will have a fair idea of how to craft and present their PR message, but it is a specialist area, using an independent consultant has advantages.
An agency will give honest, independent advice, not constrained by ‘being a company employee’.
They have frequent media contact, credibility and influence, and the creativity and media awareness to come up with the unusual angles and news hooks that will appeal to editors and producers.
Available at short notice and out-of-hours, using a consultant is also cheaper and more efficient than an in-house PR for small companies.
If working with a PR agency, however, someone in-house and ideally a senior figure must ‘own’ PR, and commit to planning and contributing to campaigns.
As well as monthly fees, which can vary as much as €5,000, depending on the workload, you also should budget for third party expenses like photography, print, sampling, hospitality, events etc.
Most PR consultants will also offer once-off project work at a fixed fee, anything from €500 for a single press release and media follow-up, so don’t be afraid to ask what is possible based on your budget and objectives.
If using a consultant is beyond the budget, do still aim to get some independent input on your marketing communications plans.
Business owners can be too close to their business to clearly see what is most newsworthy or interesting to the general public, and especially to their customer base. So, talk to family, friends, staff and business associates, ask them what your key selling points are and the topics about which they would be interested in hearing more.
Sharon Bannerton heads up an award-winning Dublin based PR agency, with extensive experience in PR, marketing and social media campaigns for financial services businesses. You can connect with them here>>