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The Power Debate Between Advertising and PR Continues. (Bookmark).

Al and Laura Ries, HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2002, 295 pages

"Advertising is the wind; PR is the sun," claim father-and-daughter duo Al and Laura Ries in their newest book, "The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR." The Rieses explain that in Aesop's fable, the sun wins a dispute over which is the stronger of the two--but frankly, the fable doesn't work with advertising and PR. Advertising vs. PR is a debate that remains difficult to navigate, despite the Rieses' bold assertions.

The Rieses, authors of the highly acclaimed 1998 book "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding," find themselves drifting into no man's land with their latest title. Their analyses, based on many case studies, don't provide enough steam for their arguments. Broken into five sections, "The Fall of Advertising," "The Rise of PR," "A New Role for Advertising," "The Difference between Advertising and PR" and "Postscripts," their argument appears sound enough in theory--until you consider how it works in practice. Advertising is as much a part of our daily lives as breathing, and despite the Rieses' pleas for greater focus on PR for brand building, it's not likely that ubiquitous advertising will suddenly disappear. PR practitioners will have to continue to fight for parity.

The book is packed with interesting case studies and examples, but they are poorly analyzed and leave the reader questioning the conclusions drawn. From this book, the reader might infer that the only factors that have impact on business are brand advertising and PR campaigns. But price and product also factor into the success of a marketing strategy, not just positioning and promotion. The Rieses do not thoroughly examine how all of these "4Ps" affect unit volume sales, or which company in comparison enjoys greater margins and profit. Too many variables that might influence the outcome of a case study are left out, or not discussed in enough detail.

The Rieses make intriguing claims that test one's navigational skills as a PR practitioner. PR may be the sun of the future and advertising the winds of change, but this book only skims the surface of the debate, and it's still too soon to rest assured that PR will indeed prevail.
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Title Annotation:public relations
Publication:Communication World
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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