PR Tips | Say it again, Sam

PR Tips | Say it again, Sam

People instinctively understand the importance of repetition in advertising. We need things pounded into our heads. The first time you see an advertisement for the Super Bass-o-matic ’76, you’re probably not ready to purchase it. But by the seventh time, you just pick up the phone and dial.

In advertising, this is known as “effective frequency.” Basically, it’s a measure of how many times you need to be exposed to an ad before you make a purchase decision. Some experts say you need at least three exposures. Others say you need 20. But all agree that one exposure isn’t enough.

Curiously, in public relations, effective frequency is often overlooked. If an oped just ran in the Chicago Tribune, is it really worth making the same points again in The Philadelphia Inquirer?

Yes. Absolutely.

Repetition is an essential component of any successful PR campaign. In fact, it’s even more important in public relations than it is in advertising. Why? Because persuading people to change their opinion is a lot harder than convincing them to buy a Bass-o-matic.

Think about it this way. A single op-ed in The Washington Post is unlikely to win a public opinion war over how best to regulate hedge funds. But 1,000 opeds — spread out repeatedly over every major newspaper in the country — can create a tidal wave of public opinion that’s difficult to oppose politically.

In short, when it comes to effective PR campaigns, it’s almost impossible to understate — or withstand — the power of effective frequency.

Sam Ryan