PR Should Always Be the Viable Choice

Gladys Edmunds writes the Entrepreneurial Tightrope column for USA Today. Yesterday, responding to a query from a business owner looking to slash operating costs by trimming their public relations and marketing budget, she posted the following response on the need for companies to think twice before slashing their budgets for public relations, marketing and advertising.  In the piece, she cited McDonald’s as an example. 

There is seemingly a McDonald’s drive through on nearly every corner around the globe. Each month you can peruse magazine racks at book stores and find at least a dozen ads for McDonald’s. You can also find a McDonald’s television commercial every day. And I would imagine the same is true of radio. And their community involvement with the Ronald McDonald charities also gives them high visibility.

 I doubt that there’s a human on earth that hasn’t either eaten at McDonald’s or at least seen one while driving or walking. So, if everybody knows that these restaurants exist — and, for sure, McDonald’s success is real — why does the company bother to keep such a highly visible marketing, advertising and public relations campaign?

 The answer is simple — executives know that without that consistent visibility the company would eventually become just another restaurant chain.

 If reducing your budget is necessary for the life of your business, that’s understandable. However, you must continue to be as visible to the public as possible.

 Sometimes when we are short on money we have to make good use of creativity.

 You didn’t say what kind of business you have, but let’s take a look at a few cost-effective things that you might consider.

 Find a charity to support. Sponsor a food drive for your local food bank. Send a press release to the local media to get exposure for your event.

Edmund’s response is right on the money. This economy has affected us all, from small business owners, corporations to public relations agencies.  It is very easy to take money allocated for public relations and marketing off the table when times get tough.  Sadly, for many companies,  it’s the first thing dropped.

What decision-makers and business owners need to realize is that the communications process is totally integrated.  Running an ad is fine, but integrating it with community outreach, promotion and a personal connection to your customer base is what maintains brand loyalty, especially in tough times.

When you eliminate any approach from a public relations standpoint, you are essentially cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Clients need to realize that agency partners are there to help foster such relationships by creating opportunities to keep a brand or company visible.  Whether it’s creating a giveaway promotion,  making a charitable donation in your local community or issuing a regular series of informational news releases, being proactive and engaged with the media and your customers is vital.

Eliminating a major way of communicating to these customers, by slashing your public relations and marketing budgets, lessens your visibility, gives your competitors an edge, and makes it harder to regain awareness with the public, once the economy rebounds. 

An ongoing, well-structured public relations campaign can maintain awareness for a company through good times and bad.

Doing nothing  should not be a choice.  

Tom Cosentino


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