Which is Best for Start-Ups: PR or Advertising?

There’s a misconception held by many business owners that public relations (PR) and advertising are completely interchangeable (in terms of the benefits that they offer), but that isn’t true. While each has benefits, there are many reasons that PR is more effective for start-ups – especially for those in the hospitality industry. By Jennifer Nagy.

Here are six examples of when using PR will be more effective than advertising for hospitality start-ups:

When you need to educate your audience

One of the most exciting things about working in the hospitality industry is the innovation that you experience firsthand. The difficult thing about being the company that is selling an innovative, new product is that it is necessary to educate your potential clients on why this product is different/better than others available in the market. Because many of these products are so technologically advanced, this can be a very arduous process – and a confusing one for your audiences. That’s where PR comes in.

In conjunction with content marketing, PR is the best tactic to educate your potential customers and establish the company as an expert. It is possible to do this because hotel trade publications will publish vendor-neutral articles (articles that don’t reference/sell a specific brand/product) that will teach hoteliers how to improve their operational processes. Over time, this exposure will help your company to sell your solution more effectively and significantly shorten the sales cycle.

When you want consumers to try out your product

A good way to provide media incentives for publishing your content is to offer the publisher the opportunity to give away a free trial of your product to their readers. By allowing the publication to manage the giveaway, it helps to increase their value to their audience, which will strengthen their readership, while giving your product valuable exposure.

When you want to create a stronger relationship with your target audience(s) The public is accustomed to seeing ads everywhere – and distrusting the messaging that they see reflected in these ads. If you want your public(s) to have a positive impression of your company and/or products (and increased trust in purchasing from you), PR is a better approach; articles written about your company by a journalist – an independent third-party expert – gives your company more credibility in the mind of potential customers. The same message delivered by an advertising spokesperson may be ignored by many potential customers.

In addition, advertising is only effective at telling your audience your message, making it a one-way marketing tactic; in contrast, PR is a two-way communication tactic (communication flows from the brand to the audience and also in reverse), which makes it more appealing to potential customers and, therefore, more effective.

When you want to sell your product’s story, not just your product

The inherent nature of a start-up (it’s something new and different!) creates a story angle that will be of greater interest, and therefore, you are more likely to secure media coverage.

Especially when your product is re-thinking the industry’s standard way of executing a task, there is a really interesting story behind its development; consumers love to read these stories, so media love to publish them.

When are you are on a budget

Traditional marketing tactics (such as billboards, TV commercials and radio ads) are less cost-efficient than PR. For example, a press release only needs to be distributed to media once (if you have a strong angle) and it will be picked up in numerous publications, on- and off-line, over time. This gets your message and product/service ongoing attention without an ongoing financial investment – unlike advertising, which requires you to continue paying for the advertisement to earn ongoing exposure.

Even more importantly, the results that can be achieved using PR (if executed properly), greatly exceed the ROI that can be earned from advertising.

To create or maintain your company’s reputation, especially during a crisis

Establishing and maintaining your reputation is the essence of PR. As previously mentioned, having a journalist write about your company or product establishes a sense of credibility with readers/viewers.

In addition, during and after a corporate crisis, audiences are not as receptive to traditional advertising. By using PR to communicate with audiences (don’t forget to apologize!) during a crisis, the company can mitigate the negative effects and more effectively protect (or rebuild) their reputation.

About the author: Jennifer Nagy is the President of JLNPR Inc – a full-service public relations and marketing agency that lives and breathes all facets of the travel technology industry. To find out more about JLNPR visit or contact Jennifer at [email protected]

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