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Wildfire labs: Experiment 1 — proving the value of PR

Posted by Ben Smith on 26th September 2016

Does PR work?

Granted, it’s a fairly fundamental question, but measuring the impact of PR is creating a lot of head scratching at the moment. So what better place for our labs team to start!

We wanted to test the influence of PR versus advertising on consumers so we created a little ruse. The expert labs team recorded a fake tech podcast discussing headphone audio quality. In the podcast we snuck in an audio expert discussing what features he would look for in a pair of headphones, while in an ad break there was a promotion for a set of headphones that did not have any of these features.

We then asked 100 people to review the podcast and to choose a pair of headphones from a selection at the end — one of which matched the specs detailed by the expert and one that matched the advertised pair. Choosing the former scored a ‘point’ for PR, the latter a point for advertising.

After totting up the results, more people selected the headphones endorsed by the expert than those promoted in the advert. Score one for PR right!

Of course we know there’s no one definitive measure for PR impact, especially in an increasingly complex digital environment, but this small experiment highlights the influence PR can have. PR is not unmeasurable ‘black magic’, but a provable method for communicating a brand’s message credibly to its audiences while cutting through people’s natural cynicism towards advertising.

Check out our full experiment video to see the results.

Ben Smith

Ben’s deep knowledge of sectors as diverse as electronics and IT, cleantech and medtech means he has a wide range of experience to draw on for his clients – ensuring that no two campaigns are the same. Ben’s expertise lies in helping his clients to raise their profiles beyond trade media and he has a proven track record in running campaigns that deliver coverage in national, business and consumer publications.