When most people think of public relations, they think of events, fliers, and press releases. Direct mail does not usually come to mind. These letters and/or material are mailed to large groups of people as a form of marketing. Another form of marketing public relations practitioners use is advertising.
Direct mail is used as a tool by politicians to inform voters about issues and voting. It is also used by non-profit organizations to inform the public about an array of social issues and diseases. The three major advantages of direct mail are:
Target audience: This can not be stressed enough. By communicating with them, you will not waste time and effort on those who are not part of targeted audience.
Personalization: Very personalized. At time, it is more personal and specialized if the signatures are handwritten.
Cost: Very inexpensive.
Two major disadvantages are that it is many times seen as “junk mail” and people are bombarded by information overload.
When people see advertisements they know a company is trying to sell them something. Firms should start realizing that people do not rely on advertisements alone to make a purchase decision. In today’s world, consumers are relying on blogs and people they trust to decide what brands they want to buy from. Long gone are the days when people stick to one brand all their lives. PR professionals realize that advertisements can be used to build trust, educate, and inform. They do not have to be necessarily used to increase sales.
Some advantages of advertising are that they can be targeted to a specific audience and messages can be powerful and timely. The disadvantages include the high costs and lower credibility.