“We have a Director of PR as well as myself (Director of Marketing), and we constantly struggle with how the two best work together. For example, if I buy advertising for an event, she says it lessens her ability to get PR for it – but advertising is guaranteed and the PR isn’t. Advertising works to attract attendees ahead of time; PR is good for organizational exposure.
Fundamentally, we understand these things, but in practice it’s a daily struggle and in the end, PR “wins” because it is free. We end up hoping the PR will bring people through the doors and everything ends up being a nail-biter. I need some help to advocate for true marketing. I’m sure we aren’t the first nonprofit to struggle about these inter-dependent capacities.”
My reply was that I don’t see a conflict between buying ads and pursuing coverage with PR strategies. If the PR does work, you never know what angle they will actually cover anyway, and the timing is often last-minute. Most event coverage in traditional media happens right before the event. In trade publications or blogs, you can often get them to cover it earlier, but it’s still never guaranteed.
Ads allow you to get the message delivered how you want it, when you want it. If anything buying advertising can sometimes help you get coverage. While most publications deny this, experience says otherwise, especially with smaller publications.
What do you think about this question? What’s your advice or experience?
P.S. We would love to hear your thoughts on the question from earlier this week on how to measure the success of communications with chapters, etc.