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PR more effective than advertising on the net

Good article by Sean Carton at ClickZ on how information is pass around the web now that we have blogs and rss feeds.

The article focused on a recent experiment by

First, they sent a series of press releases on different topics through various wire services. Then, they measured the traffic and links back to their site generated by the press releases. Next, they purchased a series of Google PPC (define) ads using keywords that correlated to the press releases’ content. Once the ads were in the hopper, they sat back and tracked the traffic generated by those ads.

What they found was startling. The press releases’ ROI (define) was significantly better than the ads’ ROI. In some cases, the press releases’ actual CPC (cost per click) was zero (not accounting for the time spent writing the releases), while the ads’ CPC for a first-place Google position was as high as $12.25! Looking at all the data, the bottom line is generating traffic with PR was 21.4 to 56.3 percent cheaper than PPC advertising.

Carlton nails the essence of Internet marketing – viral marketing and how it works so well through blogs and RSS.

One of the most important things about news (which most advertising can’t match) is it gets passed around. I’ve written before about viral marketing in the context of actual ads that are passed around(as have plenty of other people). There’s no doubt creating buzz through viral objects works when done correctly. But the thing many often forget (and the MarketingExperiments study touches on) is news is itself a virus and can be created for far less money than high production value viral ads.

In the past, no one but PR professionals and journalists had access to newswires. That’s changed. Anyone with an RSS (define) reader can tap into hundreds of newswire releases straight from the source. In addition, many news aggregator and industry information sites ‘feed’ press releases directly to the public, often intermingled with news written by reporters. Bloggers, ever eager to get the next scoop on their competition, obsessively troll the wires looking for new things to write about. A story pops up that interests them and — boom! It’s blogged. Other bloggers see the new post, pick up on it, and the chain continues. If you doubt this works, track a few hot topics on BlogPulse.

The marketing departments of law firms and other organizations should take notice. Getting the word out through professional marketing blogs costs peanuts, it’s far more cost effective than other Internet marketing.