‘Special Offer. Huge reduction. Once in a lifetime chance. Act Now!’ We have seen it a thousand times in all areas of our business and personal lives, but are ‘sales’ all they are cracked up to be? Could agreeing to buy a discounted product or service do more harm than good for your business profile?
The question I am most often asked is this:
‘A publication (insert name) has contacted me offering this great advertising deal, 50% off their rate card but they need an answer urgently. What do you think?’
In a word the answer is, NO.
My perspective is this: if you are going to consider advertising as part of your PR strategy, you should:
- carefully consider all the publications of interest and benefit to your organisation
- produce a target list, usually around 3-6 top publications where the target audience closely aligns with your own target audience
- research your chosen top publications and then make contact and introduce yourself and your organisation to them
I generally find that those publications on a client’s target list are so good (why would you want them to be anything less?) that they do not need to incentivise advertising rates. Unless, of course, it’s as a result of the excellent relationship you have built with them.
A general rule is to be proactive when paying for advertising. Pick your target publications well and spend the money wisely, perhaps with a series of adverts, and negotiate the inclusion of some editorial too. Assess how your advertising plan will work within your main PR strategy and fit with your business objectives.
Responding to requests to buy discounted advertising is a reactive course of action, prompted by an outside party having their own best interests at heart. So, unless the publication already featured on my target list, I would say ‘no’ and spend the money elsewhere. Just because it’s ‘cheap’ and a ‘good offer’ does not make it value for money or for a strong PR strategy; if it reaches the wrong audience in small numbers it will be a waste of time, money and effort. Worse still, it could be detrimental to your PR profile.
Any advertising offer, therefore, should be referred to your PR team. A good PR consultant will undertake advertising on your behalf: producing target media lists; establishing and building relationships with both advertising and editorial teams for each publication; and carefully negotiating deals as part of an overall advertising plan that fits into and supports an agreed, considered PR strategy.
Don’t be caught out.