Public relations (earned media) rules over other forms of marketing communications. At least in the credibility category.
Not exactly breaking news, but a recent Nielsen study reaffirms that despite the global marketing trend toward branded content, it’s tough – if not impossible — to trump the credibility and perceived objectiveness of third-party experts.
This is why PR agencies encourage clients, and have been for eons, to replace salesy company executives with happy customers on video, to broadly invest in customer success/user review programs, to engage with market research firms and to continue to invest in their relationships with journalists, bloggers and other key influencers.
Sounds old school. But study after study attesting to the same can’t all be wrong.
Earned media is more difficult to achieve than other media forms, such as paid or owned. It’s less predictable, less frequent and can be a labor of love to do it well. But the pay off is invaluable. The Nielsen study reports, for example, that content marketing is nearly 90 percent less effective than PR.
“Overall, our research suggests that there is a higher degree of trust from consumers when they are reading content from credible, third-party experts,” reads the Nielsen report. “…This level of trust further suggests that expert content is more efficient at pushing consumers along the consumer decision-making process because it is more effective at consistently lifting these measures across each phase of the purchase process.”
In the end, the impact of expert content on consumer decision-making demonstrates the important role that objective and credible information from trusted sources play in the purchase process.”
The Nielsen report isn’t suggesting companies scrap all of their marketing communications efforts save for PR. Instead, they’re suggesting, in light of the research, that marketers take a closer look at their expert content efforts with an eye toward increasing it “while also supplementing with branded content and users reviews to build familiarity and influence opinions about the product.”
Sounds like good advice even if the survey’s 900 respondents were coaxed away from Black Jack and roulette tables in Las Vegas casinos (can’t make this stuff up). Thankfully for the rest of us, as it pertains to this report, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay there.