THAT SLOW-ECONOMY-PROOF BUSINESS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
As fear whips markets worldwide and the ominous R word swirls over the economy like a darkening cloud, is this the time for PR firms to batten the hatches and prepare to ride out the storm? Or maybe dive and rig for silent running?
Or could this be as good a time for PR as it is for borrowers with good credit or companies with cash?
As fear of joblessness and a stagnant economy spreads, causing companies to cut spending and trim ad budgets, this may be the perfect time to aggressively market the inherent advantages of PR over advertising. So open those hatches. Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead!
At our own firm, for example, TransMedia Group(http://www.transmediagroup.com), we just issued a highly-positive, almost enthusiastic news release on the wires reporting an upsurge in our business."
While the economy is near lifeless and housing on life support, the PR business is rumbling along briskly at many PR firms across the country. But you'd never know it. And that's news that needs to get out for our collective good. The anomaly of doing well while all else around you are sputtering and shuddering surely meets the criteria for news.
Yet PR firms tend to be reticent at precisely the time they should be making news that PR is more recession proof than most other communications channels. PR typically nets a bigger slice of the marketing pie when ad budgets are slashed during economic downturns. So it's a good time to remind the corporate world and local business community that getting a message out through PR is a lot more cost effective than advertising, not to mention far more credible and convincing.
Is that a spin on recessionary times? Probably. Still, if your PR firm is anything like ours, while the markets are fuming, business is booming.
Ad agencies that own PR firms or have a strong PR division are better off during a downturn because when the ad side reduces, the PR side gains, keeping the firm healthy and balanced as it sails through a slowdown and may even prosper if firms publicize themselves half as well as they do their clients.
We cited a recent upsurge in business at our firm as proof that companies are turning more to PR while sales revenues dip, credit is tight and fear levels rise to near panic proportions.
A couple of things can help in a downturn. One is being multi-lingual. The other is being diversified. Our firm was retained by a foreign government to promote its exports to the U.S. and we're engaged in simultaneous campaigns in Brazil and Mexico.
So it will helps mucho to be multi-lingual and global in perspective.
When the economy slacks off, you also want to be sure you're diversified as much as possible. Today it was the sub-prime mortgage bubble that burst and spooked other parts of the economy. Years ago it was the dot.com bubble that burst, catching those PR firms off guard that had specialized in high tech and had amassed mostly high-tech clients. Those firms crashed right along with their computer and Internet clients.
Today the client rosters of most firms are almost eclectic and well they should be, especially in a downturn where some parts of the economy get pummeled, while other parts get only bruised and some fortunate companies, like those in public relations, could even benefit.
Here are some things you might want to think about doing during a recession. Now might be a good time to
Consider making some capital improvements as most likely there will be tax incentives in the various stimulus proposals being considered.
- Recruit in-house PR talent at those companies who'll be cutting their staff.
- Publicize the advantages of delivering messages via news media over self-serving advertising, especially when seeking to build a brand.
- Take advantage of low interest rates and purchase new equipment that will increase efficiency and performance.
- Expand your business by buying PR firms in strategically important markets.
Right now marketing directors of companies throughout corporate America are looking harder than ever for the most cost-effective ways to communicate with their publics. So it's a perfect time to remind them what a bargain PR is compared to the higher-priced spreads.