Chapter 16: Direct Mail & Advertising

In the book, Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, chapter 16 discusses the importance of utilizing direct mail and advertising. I found this chapter to be extremely interesting since I am a mass communications minor and in one of my classes we have been working with direct mail pieces for projects as well as advertising materials.

The difference that is important to remember as a PR professional when utilizing these tools is advertising used by public relations professionals should not be aimed to sell a product or service to consumers. Instead public relations professionals should utilize advertising and direct mail to build further trust, create favorable opinions or attitudes and motivate audience to support. When talking about advertising in my mass communication courses the objective to sell the product or service so PR objectives differ greatly and it is important to remember the differences.

The book discusses  some advantages of using direct mail. One main advantage is it is a controlled communication medium. You are in charge of who receives the direct mail and who doesn’t. I think this is an advantage over some technological communication advantages we have now because if you are posting something online somewhere there is no control of who sees it and who doesn’t. Another advantage is the personalization factor. There are so many emails and things sent via web these days and while that is good the materials tend to lose the personality factor.

Another reason direct mail has an advantage is because of its cost effectiveness. Direct mail is cost effective in the sense that it costs much less than a radio or TV spot. It’s also less than a print advertisement in a magazine.

Direct mail has some package components the book lists that are important to know. The mailing envelope should be attractive to the eye because it is what the reader or intended audience sees first. The envelope should make the audience want to open it. Some direct mail pieces used for advertising purposes include teasers on the envelope such as telling the consumer they won a cruise or money. These should be avoided by PR professionals.

Another component of the direct mail package is the letter. It should use a personalized greeting and the headline or opening paragraph should attract the readers interest. The book also lists brochures as a component in the direct mail package. Brochures should be brief but also provide useful information. Some elements that can increase a brochures interest are testimonials, questions and answers, benefits tables, comparisons, and guarantees. Other components of direct mail packaging are reply cards, return envelops and gifts.

Advertising is a controlled medium like direct mail. There are different types of public relations advertising. These include image building, investor and financial relations, public service, advocacy/issues, and announcements. I think the most important type for PR professionals is image building. Since PR is all about building and maintaining relationships with publics and maintaining an image, image building should be considered extremely important when it comes to advertising. This will strengthen an organization’s image or reputation and that is what PR is all about.

Chapter 16 was a good read for public relations students. I really enjoyed reading about how public relations utilizes advertising because since I am a mass communications minor advertising is an interest of mine. I think that now I know there are differences between the type of advertising we talk about in our PR classes and the type we talk about in my mass communication classes I will be a well rounded PR professional. Since I work with both kinds of advertising I can understand the difference to a further extent now that I read the chapter.

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