Too often, PR consultants are viewed as the fat in a company’s overhead: the “nice to have but not necessary” component of the balance sheet. When times are tough, public relations is often the first thing cut and that is the worst mistake any company, that wants to stay in business can make.
Speaking from experience, I worked for many years in the UK and was fortunate to be employed when the global financial crisis hit. Many clients savagely trimmed their marketing spend as they sought to reduce overheads as quickly as possible.
We found those that did this, fared significantly worse during, and after, the recession lifted.
1. They lost market share to their competitors who continued to spend marketing / PR / communication dollars. Additionally, their decision to focus cost cutting attention on the bottom line rather than the top line (ie. where revenue and income was coming from) meant that in many cases revenue dried up as well.
2. Since they lost market share, many of these companies did not weather the recession successfully. They lost clients, market share and sales, and many ended up in a significantly worse position than when the recession first started.
3. Their competitors who did spend on PR gained a larger proportion of the market. They increased their market share during the recession, which continued to hold true when the recession began to abate and non-spending companies decided to put their toe back in the PR pond, so to speak. At this point, their competitors were larger and healthier, and the increase in spending was too late as the PR spending companies had significantly larger marketing budgets to bludgeon the smaller spenders into submission.
4. Although advertising allows one to completely control the message, PR is earned and has a higher value in the eyes of consumers. By continuing to protect their PR spend, those companies that stayed true to their marketing goals added significant value to their brand when others left the market place. They also had the ability to quickly jump on any brand negativity, protecting these channels and ensuring their reputation was effectively managed.
You don’t want your customers to forget why they appreciate your brand. You want them to advocate for you, convince their friends and colleagues of your merits and stay true to you.
So stay true to them.