For years, there’s been a myth out there that there is some sort of multiplier for PR that assumes that PR is x times more effective than advertising. The most frequent number used was three, but for years organizations and their agencies have been multiplying their PR “impressions” by whatever number they chose to indicate how much more effective PR is than Advertising. The only problem is that there has never been or will never be any statistical evidence to support this assumption.
So just to set the record straight: THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN IMPACT BETWEEN PR AND ADVERTIISNG. But this is not necessarily bad news.
The study was conducted in shopping malls in five suburban locations around the US. A total of 351 people participated. I won't go into the research methodology but it was unbelievabley rigorous, and the confidence level is 95%. To eliminate existing bias, participants were presented information about a totally fictious new product – ZipChips. – a new potato chip that contains no fat, no salt and no calories.
For those of us who
have been dissing the multiplier factor for decades, the results were hardly
surprising, but for a ton of PR practitioners who have been foisting this myth
on their clients for years, this is the PR equivalent of Hurricane Katrina. The landscape will never be the same.