The Value of Publicity: 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign. Bought Advertising versus Free Media Coverage

One question that we often hear at Woewoda Communications is why hire a PR company that specializes in media relations and publicity? Isn't is cheaper to go out and pay for advertising instead? 

To answer that question one just has to look at the statistical data at the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign (see chart below).

In that campaign GOP candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton spent 10 million and 28 million dollars on advertising but received almost 2 billion and 3/4 of a billion dollars in FREE media coverage respectively. Other candidates such as O’Malley and Santorum spent zero dollars on advertising but received 15 and 12 million dollars respectively in FREE media coverage 
In that same campaign, when  the advertising  expenditures of all the 17 candidates were taken into account, the total amount spent on paid advertising totaled 276 million dollars; a much smaller number than the 4.139 billion dollars that the entire group received in FREE publicity as a whole.

4.139 billion > 276 million
For this entire group of 2016 U.S. presidential candidates FREE media coverage outpaced paid advertising by a ratio of 15:1.
15:1
So to answer the question "Why hire a publicist to help generate FREE media coverage?" the answer comes down to two words "value" and "leverage". 
(Chart)

2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Advertising cost versus free media coverage/publicity (millions of dollars US)

Candidate Bought Advertising Free Media Coverage
Bush 82 214
Rubio 55 204
Sanders 28 321
Clinton 28 746
Cruz 22 313
Christie 17 90
Kasich 14 38
Trump 10 1,898
Carson 5 112
Jinal 3 7
Fiorina 3 45
Huckabee 3 22
Graham 3 15
Paul 2 57
Walker 1 30
O'Malley 0 15
Santorum 0 12
Source
New York Times 2016

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