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Communication Tools: Advertising
There is an old saying in public relations: “If you really want good press
coverage, buy an ad in the newspaper.” And there’s some truth to that.
Using paid advertising is an effective way to deliver your message in the exact manner,
time, tone, and place that you desire.
Out-of-pocket costs are highest for paid advertising, but can be very effective for
reaching specific audiences with targeted messages. In general, TV is the most
expensive and newspaper the least with radio in the middle. Magazine or special
publication ads may be effective if well targeted to your audience. As part of a
comprehensive campaign, these advertising strategies can be very effective. Most
importantly, match your ads to your audience to ensure best use of your advertising
Take time to plan the placement and distribution to meet the demographics of your
The Two R’s of Advertising
For advertising to be effective, you need to have the two
Rs—reach and repetition.
Reach refers to how many people will see an ad. Advertising rates
are based on circulation, viewership, or number of listeners. Super Bowl ads, for
instance, are incredibly costly because of the high viewership.
Repetition is the number of times the same ad is repeated. People
need to hear that message several times before it resonates.
Dotting the I’s and Crossing the T’s
Issue: Is the issue of interest to all readers, listeners, or
viewers of the intended media? Developing an ad with too narrow a focus will
confuse more than enlighten.
Imagination: Does the subject matter have the ability to capture
the imagination of the intended audience? Make the issue personal as well as
societal. This will be essential for an ad to capture people’s imaginations.
Impact: Will the ad make a difference? Ads are designed to matter.
They should bolster the enthusiasm of supporters and help advance a product, cause
Topic: Have we selected the right topic for an ad? Advertising is
not something you will do every day. The right topic should relate to the key
message you want to convey. The topic must be focused for an ad to make sense. Take
oral health for instance. Availability of providers, access to care, cost, quality,
and insurance are just some of the many issues around oral health.
Timing: An ad can be placed in conjunction with an event or other
activity to boost the event or attention given to a topic. Ads can be follow-ups to
planned releases from other organizations. Similarly, an ad can be used to boost an
upcoming event and convey an important message at the same time. As an example, a
series of ads appearing in Lansing, Michigan newspapers and radio stations helped
to increase awareness around minority health and to boost attendance at the
first-ever local forum on the topic.