The Chicken and the Egg of Marketing

The following guest blog was written by Colin Pennington (BA, Public Relations, 2009), a member of the St. Louis -based public relations team at Brighton.

logoWe’ve all heard the cliché “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” Well I’m going to put a little marketing spin on it. What came first, the ad or the PR story? The answers to the question can vary, but no mater what, it has impact on the marketing industry.

In today’s struggling economy, there are a lot of ideas out there about the best marketing strategies to get the highest return on your investment.

Is there one particular strategy that works best? Probably not. Different marketing strategies work for different companies in different industries. It is, however, important to keep in mind how each marketing function relies on the other to thrive and how different companies rely on those functions. This is especially true in B2B marketing where traditional media is still relied on heavily.

The first reaction for many companies when looking to cut costs might be to reduce paid advertising and focus on earned media like public relations. Of course, we know earned media isn’t free, but it does have less hard costs. This is great for us PR folks, to an extent. I’m sure many PR firms did in fact see an increase in business when the economy started to fade. Companies knew they couldn’t afford to get rid of all marketing efforts, so they needed a less costly way to get their messages to the right audiences.

As nice as it would be, as a PR pro, to convince clients that PR is the one and only marketing strategy they need to employ, the reality is many of the trade publications we regularly pitch editorial to rely on advertising revenue (print and online) to stay in business. Just ask Penton Media, the third largest U.S. B2B media company that recently filed for bankruptcy citing increasing debt and drop in advertising sales (according to Bloomberg).

Regardless of the interpreted value of advertising over PR, it is certain that each relies on the other to survive. While you may be tempted to just rely on earned media since it has less hard costs, it does have its limitations. With a well rounded marketing mix, you’re not only communicating more effectively, you’re also fueling the industry and the economy.

If no one is advertising, there isn’t any content. And without content, there are no readers.

By that way, the story came first!