Of all the venerable questions (Paper or plastic? The chicken or the egg? Ginger or Mary Ann?) the one that marketers struggle with most is whether to invest marketing dollars in advertising or public relations.
Not all that long ago, the answer was clear-cut. If you needed a campaign to drive awareness by hitting target audiences with a sustained frequency, then advertising was the way to go. Your only limit to reaching your prospective buyers was the depth of your pockets, and if they were deep enough, you could carpet bomb the airwaves about your grand opening or fill pages in print and online with ads touting your new product.
On the other hand, if your marketing challenge was one of credibility—say your new product is revolutionary or needs some hand-holding to explain just how it works—then public relations was likely a better fit. Story placements in key outlets not only gave you the space to go into granular detail about the magic of your product or service, including some hosannas from happy clients, but they also provided that third-party validation that can give you instant legitimacy.