A Damn Good Content Marketing Concoction

How Advertising, Influencer Marketing, and Public Relations Contrast With and Complement Each Other

In recent months, Ethos has worked with many industries that couldn’t have been more different from one another. The subject matter of our writing has varied from real estate and law, to art and influencer marketing, all the way to manufacturing and technology. While the subject of this writing has varied drastically, our objective has remained the same: to boost our clients' credibility through valuable content.

Because consumers are constantly bombarded by advertisements, they’ve learned to tune out most of them. For this reason, creating content is arguably one of the most critical elements of marketing. In order to gain an audience’s attention and trust, businesses need to provide valuable material in the form of blogs, vlogs, newsletters, eBooks, and the like—but that’s nothing you don’t know.

What is interesting is how all the subsets of marketing differ so much from one another, yet work together so seamlessly. For example, Ethos Copywriting is a content creation business. Some of the content we create for businesses is straight up advertising like brochures, Adwords ads, sponsored posts, and/or flyers. Alternately, we often craft content marketing for companies in the form of blogs, vlog scripts, and web pages.

However, we’re also frequently called upon to write press releases and newsletters, which is much more akin to public relations (PR). Despite the common thread of content, these three kinds of marketing are quite different from one another.

Bare Bones Advertising

In its most basic form, an advert is promotional information that’s created to increase conversions and/or brand awareness. While the term “advert” may evoke images of tawdry car commercials on the radio, lousy television commercial breaks, and snail mail flyers, a good ad tells a story, connects with its audience, and calls the viewer or listener to action.

When creating a visual advertisement, a great advertiser knows how to blend provocative imagery, design, and copy. Likewise, when the ad is only in an audio format, advertisers focus not only on what is being said, but how it’s being said. The right voice, tone, and cadence is what makes a radio advertisement memorable.

A main component of memorability is originality. If you’re not standing out, you’ll be the first to be overlooked. When creating an ad, ensure that it contains:

 This is a classic hard copy advert for Chevrolet.

This is a classic hard copy advert for Chevrolet.

  • A killer headline
  • Provocative visuals
  • A personality that fits the brand
  • A clear call to action
  • The differences, advantages, and benefits
  • That certain je ne sais quoi

Influencer Marketing

Celebrity endorsements have been a popular form of advertising since the late 1800’s, and they haven’t always been limited to pop icons and reality stars. According to Tintup.com, back in the late 19th century, political and religious figures were “sponsoring” products and services as well.

Fast forward to 2017, and now you have brand journalists, analysts, thought leaders, fashion and style bloggers, photographers, vloggers, and a multitude of other individuals with niche titles that distinguish them from other content creators. While all influencers have a different set of strengths, various numbers of followers, and subject matter that is particular to them, they all share two common characteristics:

  1. They create content
  2. They share what they produce

Today, the influencer marketing industry is booming. In fact, since 2012 to 2017, the percent increase in Google search interest was around 2900%. Marketers love this means of marketing because it’s a cost effective way to:

  • Build your brand’s authority to their brands
  • Earn third-party recommendation
  • Boost credibility
  • Improve search engine optimization (SEO)
 Influencer Marketers use many different social media platforms.  Photo Attribution: HowToStartABlogOnline.net

Influencer Marketers use many different social media platforms.

Photo Attribution: HowToStartABlogOnline.net

One of the biggest benefits of influencer marketing compared to billboards, brochures, and business cards is that its success is easily measured. Solid marketing agencies will provide brands with substantial return on investments (about $6.50 for every dollar spent) and valuable insight into their target market.

Interestingly, many micro-influencers actually work for product compensation rather than cold hard cash. Thousands of fashion, style, and tech bloggers write solely for the perk of getting complimentary products and services.

You may be asking yourself, if this content is free, it builds credibility, and gives my brand authority, how is it different than PR? While influencer marketing is definitely more similar to PR than straight-up advertising, there are a few key elements that separate the two.

 Public relations stories can be significantly more effective than advertisments.

Public relations stories can be significantly more effective than advertisments.

Public Relations

As the old maxim goes: “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”

PR is free, whereas advertising is purchased; adverts are paid media and publicity is earned. Businesses have to do something truly special to earn the attention of the media, but how? Ken Makovsky, “PR All-Star,” Forbes contributor, and founder of Makovsky, an Integrated Communications and Marketing agency, lends seven great insights into increasing your brand’s public image:

  1. Identify the topics on which you wish to speak and showcase your expertise
  2. Find and target your audience
  3. Practice your public persona
  4. Develop media interviews
  5. Identify all the outlets that are most interested in your issue
  6. Develop a rapport with other content providers
  7. Speak before your target audience

Makovsky finished his advice by writing:

“Trust is one of the most critical “must-haves” when it comes to building and preserving the reputation of a company’s leadership. Building that trust is virtually impossible without a thoughtful, coherent and proactive public relations campaign.”

While trust is more difficult to achieve, the payout is better. A solid public image boosts your authority and credibility by having a third party acknowledge your achievements. Michael Levine, author of Guerilla P.R. said, “depending on how you measure and monitor, an article is between 10 times and 100 times more valuable than an advertisement.” While that may seem impossible, Levine statements rang true in a study commissioned by inPowered, who found that PR lifted brand awareness by nearly 90%.

How Should Brands Market Themselves?

 This venn diagram highlights the differences and similarities between advertising, influencer marketing, and public relations.

This venn diagram highlights the differences and similarities between advertising, influencer marketing, and public relations.


There is no golden ratio that can tell us which elements of marketing to focus on more than others. What is important to remember is that fresh, valuable, entertaining content is king. Advertisements can be new and fun, but they’re generally not very useful to the viewer.  On the other hand, influencer marketing and PR can be valuable and entertaining, but are more difficult to keep consistent and interesting.

The biggest sticking point of PR (and sometimes influencer marketing) is that your business has to earn that media. And, when you think about it, this a good thing. While businesses should always pride themselves on their quality products and services, the PR earning potential can serve as additional motivation to become an even better company.

Have a thought, comment, or something to add? Drop us a line in the comment section.

Looking to improve your content marketing and public relations efforts? Contact Ethos Copywriting by clicking the button below.