Effective Frequency/Presence and Recency: Measuring the ROI of public relations using applied advertising theories

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Reed College of Media


Reed College of Media


Although strategic and integrated communication is the mantra of today’s communication firms, advertising and public relations research have been slow to mix. Perhaps the fields’ historically separate development and existence in discrete firms and their continuing competition for resources have contributed to the lack of theoretical integration. Or perhaps many academicians have been slow to respond to our multidisciplinary communications world. This study attempted to help bridge the divide between advertising and public relations scholarship by applying advertising theories to a media relations campaign. With the support of a well-known public relations firm, Chandler Chicco Associates, the researchers explored the effectiveness of two promotional models, drawing from the advertising theories of frequency/presence and recency. Two demographically and psychographically similar markets were identified for the study, and a product, Botox Therapeutic, was selected for promotion. Pre- and postmedia placement surveys were conducted in each of the selected markets to gauge public knowledge, attitudes, and projected behaviors toward the product and its “sister” product, Botox Cosmetic, as well as other common medicines. Although the results were not statistically significant in terms of market differences, there were some notable findings, especially in the frequency/presence market. However, complications to the study included the variability of media placement between markets, the lack of available data from other sources, and the type of media placements in comparison to the randomly selected survey participants and their expressed media preferences. The uncontrolled nature of public relations messages and placements, in contrast to the controlled nature of advertising messages and placements, makes this type of research especially challenging.

Source Citation

Knott, Diana L. and Slater, Jan. (2005). “Effective Frequency/Presence and Recency: Measuring the ROI of public relations using applied advertising theories,” in T. Carroll (Ed.). Proceedings of the 8th International Public Relations Research Conference, South Miami, Florida, March 12, 2005, 210–226.