The importance of communication studies to PR lies in its ability to add credibility to its brand. Though advertising has its place, PR functions to establish credibility outside of itself. Steve Cody of Inc. magazine writes, “Advertising continues to embrace an antiquated, top-down, inside-out way of communicating. It reflects senior management’s view on what a consumer or business-to-business buyer should think is important” (as cited in Wynne, 2014). PR, on the other hand, is earned media. Because it has been verified by a third party, it is perceived as more believable. In fact, a Nielsen study commissioned by InPowered in March 2014 examined the role expert content played on purchase decision. The purpose of this research was to “understand how consumers use different sources of information and how the sources impact them across a variety of product categories at each stage of the purchase process” (“The role of content”, 2014).
It found that expert content had more impact on consumer familiarity, affinity and purchase decision than user reviews and branded content. Recommendations at the conclusion of the study were clear- “advertisers may want to consider increasing consumer exposure to expert content to build greater trust while also supplementing with branded content and users reviews
to build familiarity and influence opinions about the product” (“The role of content, 2014).
Brisson, H. & Hay, M. (2014, March). The role of content in the consumer decision making process. Nielsen: US.
Impact of Content types across purchase decision. (2014, March). [Online image]. Retrieved from https://www.inpwrd.com/the_role_of_content_inpowered.pdf
Wynne, Robert. (2014, July 8). The real difference between PR and advertising. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2014/07/08/the-real-difference-between-pr-and-advertising-credibility/2/