Why PR is Not a Luxury


PR isn't a luxury, it's a necessity

We’ve heard it many times before: When the economy is in a downturn, businesses will cut their PR program first.

“We can’t afford it.”

“We’re taking a pause.” 

“Now is not the time.” 

While PR may seem like the right choice for a first reduction, it is crucial for companies to understand why they need to keep their PR program running—especially in a downturn.

In 2010, Harvard Business Review reached out to 4,700 companies across different industries and concluded, “Among the 200 largest companies that tackled the 2000 recession, promotion-focused enterprises grew sales by $15 billion and profits by $1.5 billion.” 

Public relations can help build your company’s reputation and brand credibility, gain market visibility, navigate a crisis, communicate with your customers, and earn media attention. In a competitive market, these PR attributes are a necessity.

B2B PR is earned media, which differs from paid media in that it is written or published by a third party, such as an online news page or broadcast clip. This gives more credibility and weight to a company’s claims over a paid advertisement or even just a blog post on a company’s site. 

So why is it imperative that PR efforts remain a priority—even during a recession? 

  • Establish Reputation and Market Visibility 

Continuing to engage in thought leadership activities, such as providing insight in an industry article or writing contributed bylines, demonstrates to your customers that your company is stable. A steady cadence of media coverage helps you maintain your company’s reputation as well as gain visibility in your market. If your competitors have cut their PR activities, it may help you stand above the crowd as your company or products continue to appear in articles that your potential customers read. 

  • Understand Crisis Communication

A PR crisis can happen at any time. In fact, with economically motivated business decisions leading to layoffs or untrained employees suddenly doing multiple jobs, the risk of a crisis in a recession may even increase! The time to plan for a crisis is before the crisis happens. Having a trained PR team ready and able to help manage messaging and media outreach can help companies weather even the most serious crisis. If you call a new PR team at the 11th hour to help you after the crisis happens, it can significantly slow down response time and escalate the crisis. 

  • Build Media Relationships

PR isn’t just about who you know. It takes time to build trusted relationships with the media and to gain brand recognition. If you pause or stop your PR activities during an economic downturn, you will be starting from scratch when the market shifts again. And remember, sometimes articles take two or three months to publish, so you may have a long lead time before your proactive earned media coverage appears.  

  • Leverage Social Media

Social media is an inexpensive way to reach your prospects and customers. While social media can sometimes operate independently of PR activities, the best companies coordinate their social programs within their PR programs. PR practitioners can use social media to amplify their PR campaigns to reach new and current audiences. If your social media team falls within your PR team, think twice before you cut them so that your social media doesn’t suddenly go inactive, causing your customers to wonder if the company is still in business.

  • Communicate with Stakeholders

A vibrant PR program can help companies communicate with customers, prospects, and funders. A downturn is a perfect time to highlight successful customer case studies, share product updates, and increase newsletter and customer communications. You can share differentiators about your company, such as lower prices or better products or services. This helps you deliver a consistent message and keeps your company and message at the forefront of your stakeholders’ minds.   

Related post: The SVB Collapse: How to Communicate with Stakeholders in Times of Crisis

During an economic slowdown, companies should not reduce their PR efforts. Instead, companies can use this as an opportunity to build and maintain a brand reputation, connect with their audience, gain traction against competitors, and create relationships with industry experts. These activities ultimately position the company for success post-recession. 

Interested in growing your market and getting ahead of your competition? Contact Zen Media today, and our public relations team can get you started!


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