White_Square_PillowA friend of mine bought a new pillow.

That he bought a new pillow isn’t all that interesting

But why he bought the pillow is

He was watching a TV news show and for some reason the pundits started talking about sleep, which led the conversation to a particular brand of pillow.  One of the guests mentioned that he’d been using it and was now a convert and would use no other pillow.

My friend watched the program and that conversation convinced him to buy the pillow.

As he explained, the interesting thing was that he’d seen commercials on that same pillow for years. He had viewed them repeatedly, but he figured they were commercials paid for by the company, so of course they’d say how wonderful the pillow is; the purpose of a commercial is to sell a product.  But my friend didn’t want to be sold, so there was no impetus to take that next step and actually buy the pillow.

But, when he heard the pillow being talked about on the TV segment, he figured he was watching news.  No one was selling, they were giving information.  The guest who talked about the great experience he had with the pillow had no incentive to do so, he was relating a personal experience. 

And that’s what piqued my friend’s interest.  He wasn’t being sold, he was being told a story which hit a chord.

And, as soon as the program was over, he went on line, found the pillow in question and bought it. 

I don’t think any story can better illustrate the difference between advertising and public relations as well as how people react to the two approaches.  I am not dismissing the power of, or need for, advertising, but illustrating how different messages are perceived.

When you or your product or service are presented in an ad or commercial, you reach your target market but in a very specific context.  That can be a powerful marketing tool, particularly when targeting a market who has a specific perceived need. 

But, when you reach your marked through PR or media relations, your message is conveyed not as an ad, or a commercial, but as a news story.  You are part of the news and with that comes the validity, legitimacy and trustworthiness that comes from that form of presentation.

It is that credibility factor that makes PR a uniquely powerful marketing tool.  If we perceive a story as part of the editorial side of a print publication, or TV segment, chances are much greater we’re going have a strong emotional reaction.  Our defenses are down.  We don’t feel we’re being sold.

And when we’re not being sold –  we buy.

Which is why my friend has a new pillow. 

Copyright © Mora Communications Inc.  2016

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