Thursday, September 28, 2006

Study Finds PR Is as Valuable as Advertising

I'm up at the Institute for Public Relations annual summit on measurement in New Hampshire. First up: we're listening to the findings of a study which compared the relative impact of the results of PR (i.e. a well-placed item in a newspaper) and advertising on the public. The study showed that after being exposed to one instance, there is no real difference between advertising and PR. (Huh.)

The study's co-authors (David Michaelson, principal of his New York PR firm, and Don Stacks, of the University of Miami) conclude that in the instance of introducing a new product, PR appears to be on equal footing with advertising in terms of impact. The study found that:
○ There is no difference on a person's intent to purchase after being exposed to one instance of advertising and one instance of a well-placed news story.
○ There is no statistically significant difference on "believability" between advertising and editorial
○ Increased information does not translated into increased believability

Not surprisingly the study's authors seemed pleased with the findings, which they say is one of the first to so strongly justify what they do. (Though some in the crowd of about 100 felt this was similar to other studies.)

Questions came up with how this can be carried over to an online or broadcast studies. Discussion also talked to whether the idealized parameters of the study (point-for-point placement of the advertising claims in the fictional NY Times article) would have meaning in the real world. The authors admitted this was a best-case scenario.

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