I read an enlightening book a little while back called “The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR” by Al and Laura Ries. The book espouses the virtues of press coverage as oppose to advertising and cites examples such as Starbucks and The Body Shop as companies that successfully built their brands on media exposure, not advertising. The book’s basic argument is that word-of-media and word-of-mouth “build” brand beliefs, while advertising helps “sustain and remind” the market of those beliefs. I agree with this argument for the one simple reason: advertising is you paying to tell people how great you are, while WOMs are third-party endorsements of how great you are. In this over-commercialized world where the average consumer is completely jaded by advertising messages, they read ads with complete skepticism. Third-party endorsements are great for helping consumers to navigate through the clutter to find products and services that are truly great. The Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick would invite reporters to the deepest parts of the rain forest and other exotic parts of the world while she discovered natural beauty treatments and remedies to offer next through her stores. The press saw this as a high interest story and would report on it ritually. This type of coverage helped build The Body Shop brand and what it stands for today. Not a dollar was spent on advertising in those early days. Now, The Body Shop’s advertising is mostly used to continually remind us what The Body Shop is all about. A strong public relations component is key to a successful marketing plan and shouldn’t be overlooked so quickly. Find out what’s interesting and unique about your company and share it with the press.
Rajan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BIG Marketing for Small Business. He's an award-winning marketing strategist who is passionate about branding, digital marketing and social media. He spent nearly a decade as the marketing executive at global IT firm Peer 1 Hosting and was instrumental in their explosive growth.