ANALYSIS: BIG QUESTION; Is advertising a PR tool?

Martin Thomas Cohn and Wolfe

Martin Thomas Cohn and Wolfe

Advertising is a tool which PR agencies should control and are beginning

to do so. It is fundamental to integrate advertising with PR as it has

the ability to build a brand fast to a large target group. Where new or

specialist brands may not have the budget to compete with a large ad

campaign, PR can create a central core concept, promotable through other


Martin Loat, Propeller Marketing Communications

‘Sex, controversy and celebrities continue to be the favourite

ingredients to get editorial exposure for an ad. PR people must push

beyond simply making the best of the newsworthy advertising produced by

ad agencies and get in at the planning stages to ensure that PR

potential is factored into an ad’s creation. To make this work, the PR

and ad agency sides need the right attitude and a client committed to


Jo Tanner, Saatchi and Saatchi

‘The most effective way to reach people is still through TV advertising, but if you become mainstream you can lose your audience. When the client needes high awareness with a limited amount of money you can make a story out of the advert. It is becoming a trend with ad agencies, but journalists are wising up and want more than shock in ads.’

David McLaren, Hill and Knowlton

‘It is not a PR tool in the sense that it means PR agencies should be in the business of producing adverts for clients or establishing subsidiaries. This will be at the expense of advertising quality as good ad people want to work for good ad agencies. PR is taking on wider responsibility, but is better for strategic roles, not implementation.’

Paul Lockstone, NatWest UK

‘Advertising is not a PR tool, but it has PR value. High profile ad campaigns like Benneton are generating noise over the noise from the ad itself. The important issue in PR and advertising is integration and consistency of message. If you have this, boundaries will blur and the two will support each other.’

Caroline Crawford, Advertising Standards Authority

‘Advertising is increasingly crossing over into public relations. PR companies are pitching against ad agencies with great success in areas like direct marketing, sales promotion and other creative communications divisions such as new media. Advertising is becoming one of PR’s tools due to the needs of clients for more creative methods of communications to reach audiences.’

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