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December 1, 2010
For New Companies, PR Comes Before Advertising

What comes first for a new business: public relations or advertising? Before a start-up company starts shelling out dollars for advertising, it should consider the advice of Ashley Wirthlen on Public Relations Blogger. com. If publicity is what brings a brand to life, says Wirthlen, then advertising is what maintains it.  

This makes sense in terms of a start-up's promotional toolkit. A new company needs a certain market resonance -- the beginning of familiarity and presence -- before advertising will be of much help. This is especially the case at a time when social media is emerging as a new PR tool, one that's highly promising but which, initially at least, can be highly confusing. (The worst thing to do on Twitter, for instance, is to advertise.)

As Wirthlen puts it, "Publicity (PR's contribution) is what helps to bring a brand to life.... Building a brand is not achieved through advertising but rather publicity. A prime example of this is Starbucks, who had spent less than $10 million in advertising in its first 10 years... For older, more established companies, advertising helps to remind the world that they are still around. For a new company, it won't do much good in the way of 'reminding'. This is where publicity and PR come into play."

So before committing funds for advertising, a new entrepreneur should consider meeting with a PR person he or she trusts to get a sense of identity before seeking to reinforce something that doesn't yet exist in the public's awareness. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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