In survey after survey that Unity Marketing conducts with brands and retailers, word-of-mouth marketing inevitably rises to the top as both their most used and most effective marketing medium. Word-of-mouth has credibility unmatched by any other.
Unlike paid advertising and marketing messages pushed out by brands and retailers, word-of-mouth communicates authentic news that the one sharing the news believes is important for other people to hear.
Many marketers confuse word-of-mouth marketing with social media. Social media is but one medium that can carry word-of-mouth messages, but hardly the only one, or the best.
The Word-of-Mouth Association finds that two-thirds of WOM’s impact is from offline communications, and only one-third from online. That means the money, time and resources brands invest in social media marketing is simply not having the impact that other ways to spread the word about their brand can have. It is money wasted.
The key to success in word-of-mouth marketing, indeed any marketing communications, is to create messages that are interesting, valuable and shareable. That is the unique role of public relations where spreadable, shareable stories are crafted, which are then communicated to editors, publishers and writers who have the ear and eyes of engaged audiences.
“Countless studies report that, next to word-of-mouth advice from friends and family, editorial commentary (usually generated by your friendly, behind-the-scenes PR practitioner) carries far more weight than advertising,” writes Steve Cody of Inc. magazine.
The essential difference between ads and PR is public relations is earned media, whereas advertising is paid media. PR messages appear in the editorial sections of magazines, newspapers and websites. They have earned an endorsement from an editor, writer or blogger who believes the message is important and valuable to their audience.
In other words, it is vetted and validated by a third party. As a result, it carries more credibility than paid advertising which people are increasingly skeptical of. Advertising sends the message “Buy this product”, while PR communicates “This is important.”
A study by Nielsen on how content influences consumer decision-making found that PR is 90% more effective than advertising. Michael Levine, author of the book Guerilla P.R., says, “Depending on how you measure and monitor it, an article is between 10 times and 100 more valuable than an advertisement.”
What’s even more important about PR is that it has an afterlife. Paid advertising is here today, gone tomorrow. An article in a magazine, newspaper, newsletter or blog or on television lives on forever on the internet and is discoverable through Google searches. For example, the most visited page on Unity Marketing’s website this year is a story that was published nearly a year ago.
Because I believe in the power of public relations, I am pleased to announce that I have recently joined Jill Schmidt PR. Jill Schmidt PR is a full-service public relations firm with over 50 years of experience in a wide range of industries, including high-tech and consumer electronics, foods and consumer goods. I work on the editorial side of the agency, while other members of the team disseminate stories to the press, including TV, magazines, newspapers, radio, top Internet sites and bloggers.
I have been impressed with the excellence and professionalism of the Jill Schmidt PR team and am thrilled to be working with them to help craft brand stories that spark the interest of editors, producers and bloggers to report to their audiences.
Contact Jill Schmidt here to learn more about her agency and how you can work with it to get your message out.
Important note: My work with Jill Schmidt PR is focused on business-to-consumer (B2C) communication and not business-to-business (B2B) media. As an author and contributor on Forbes.com, The Robin Report and other publications that target B2B audiences, I maintain strict separation – a “Chinese wall” – between my B2B reporting and my public relations work. I do not and never will accept money for reporting on my B2B channels, such as Forbes.com.