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Analyzing Competitive Ad vs PR Spending

Measuring the effectiveness of your PR process is not a simple task, especially if you don’t have the budget for PR-coverage subscriptions. Just as challenging is demonstrating that your organization is better than the competition with leveraging PR to save on ad spending. Following is real-world method to handle these chores. Use Demand Metric’s Competitive Ad vs. PR Analysis Tool to start tracking your media coverage and benchmark your ad/PR-spending ratio against your competitors.

Benefits of Analyzing Competitive Ad vs. PR Spending:

  • Competitive Insight – tracking ad placements and PR coverage provides a framework for discovering ad spending benchmarks within your competitive environment, and allows you to examine how PR is being leveraged. You may discover that one competitor is heavily pushing a certain message, or that another is deploying a pull strategy based on product-feature benefits.
  • Save Money – organizations that effectively use public relations can save volumes of money that would otherwise be spent on advertisements.
  • Better Leverage Public Relations – by determining how your competitors are leveraging public relations in their media mix, you can learn how to become more proficient in this area of demand generation.
  • Measure Ad/PR Effectiveness – the first step in measuring a marketing program is to document the activities that are involved. Proactively monitoring your most important industry publications will provide a basis for tracking leads and sales that results from advertisements and press releases.

Action Plan:

  1. Assess Value – consider the value that a focused advertising/PR tracking initiative would provide your organization. If you are being asked to conduct competitive analysis, this is one section not to be missed.
  2. Assign a Task Leader – it will become someone’s job to flip through each trade publication upon delivery to identify which competitors are placing ads or generating solid PR. Try to leverage an inexpensive resource for this task.
  3. Customize a Reporting Tool – use our downloadable Competitive Ad vs. PR Analysis Tool to kick-start this process internally.
  4. Select Relevant Publications – narrow the scope on your measurement process to only those publications considered core to your industry. Add your list of publications to the ‘Instructions’ tab of the analysis tool.
  5. Determine Starting Point – you may wish to backdate your analysis to previous issues, especially if you are trying to assess competitive ad spending benchmarks. Use the same start date for each ‘Competitor’ tab to ensure you are comparing apples to apples.
  6. Document, Document, Document – list the publication, page reference, ad or article size (pages), article/ad topic area, journalist, Ad or PR, and estimated value of the piece. Use standard pricing for PR mentions, and discounted pricing for ads, if and only if, you identify a repeated pattern.
  7. Analyze the Data – visit this analysis tool on a quarterly basis and total up the estimated value (or spending) that is being done industry-wide, and determine the ratio of ad spending to PR for you and your competitors.
  8. Discuss with Senior Management – share your insights in a management meeting and discuss strategies that you can use to improve your ad/PR spend ratio. Focus on ad/PR content to get a gut-feel for competitive strategies.


Not all organizations are effectively using PR to save money on advertising costs. Start tracking your ad/PR spending in relation to your competitors to demonstrate the effectiveness of your PR capabilities. If you aren’t using PR at all, strongly consider reading our report Building Successful PR Campaigns to get started.

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