PR vs. Content Marketing: Which is More Effective for Brands?


More and more businesses today are focusing on content marketing to expand their targeted market, engage customers and increase sales. But is branded content so essential for a successful marketing campaign? A new study shows that expert content or in other words, public relations, is 88 percent more effective than content marketing.

The latest Nielsen study, commissioned by inPowered, shows that brands that actively engage in media presence will see greater customer response in all stages of the purchase process. The researchers exposed 900 customers to three different types of content:

  • Earned media/PR – expert content from credible sources
  • Owned media/Branded content, or content marketing strategy
  • User-generated content – reviews by customers on different websites

According to the results, brands depending on expert content – credible, third-party articles (defined as earned media or PR) have the greatest influence on their audience, because they provide trusted, effective source of information. And compared to content marketing, PR turns out to be 88 percent more effective. The key to attracting customers’ attention is credibility – while PR publishes trusted information by third-party experts, content published by brands has always underlying agenda, which is often too easy to see. Earned media is believed to be authentic and more credible and PR experts know how to influence the masses.

When considering a purchase, 85% of consumers are searching for expert content, articles and reviews, while 69% of consumers prefer reading to product reviews, written by trusted experts. And 67% of the people say that endorsement by third-party journalists has the greatest impact on their decision for purchasing. Of course, the researchers admit that there are different tactics used by PR and branded content that prove effective. They recommend a combined approach in businesses’ content strategy:

  • Businesses should begin with trusted content from unbiased, third-party experts and journalists to establish their brands as credible and trustworthy.
  • Once customers know they can trust you, continue with branded content to engage them and maintain interest.
  • The next step is encouraging your existing audience to share the experience. Your customers will start writing product reviews, which will be perceived as trusted content and will attract new customers.

A good example of how successful PR is practically every blockbuster headline, viral video and even simple social media status that pops up on our news feed.


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