Sponsorships are something you hear more and more about as a marketing tool, regardless of the industry.  The sponsoring of an event or activity with a particular audience is widely recognized as an effective way to make that audience aware of the sponsor’s capabilities, products, or services. But when and why is sponsoring worth it?  When it makes strategic sense, sponsoring events and trade shows can be a powerful marketing tool, allowing for business-to-business outreach.  Many clients are using the sponsorship of trade organizations to establish both credibility and presence in an industry.

Sponsorships can financially support member organizations as well, which allow organizations to put on events for affordable prices, bring technology to members and run the day-to-day operations of an organization.  In return, the sponsor benefits by being linked to the content of the event and the credibility of the organization.

At News Generation, we use strategic sponsorships with groups like PRSA, on the national (www.prsa.org) and local level in our home markets of Washington, D.C. (www.prsa-ncc.org) and Atlanta (www.prsageorgia.org).  However, we understand, as our clients do, that this does not help us in the public relations aspect of our business, but rather, assists in further positioning our company within the industry.

Also in the mix, somewhere between advertising and true public relations, is co-op advertising/marketing.  While many in the PR industry may use co-ops to gain presence for an organization, this method groups many organizations together, whether or not the organizations like being linked.  And, smart consumers are able to see through such co-ops and know they are a form of advertising instead of earned media time.

In order of editorial control, advertising has the most, followed by co-ops and sponsorships, and then media relations, which allows for the least amount of control. While media relations provides the least amount of editorial direction, this method of outreach does provide the greatest amount of credibility for an organization, as the organization “earns” its airtime by having a compelling story to tell.

The bottom line for organizations: be aware of what you will get with each method of outreach and plan accordingly to maximize impact in all areas of the public relations and marketing mix.