Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
Let’s start with the good news… it’s a New Year full of endless possibilities. You may have given up smoking or drinking, hit the gym, decided to go for that job babysitting an island in Australia where you can finally use that GCSE in biology and promised that this year’s resolution is for keeps (and at this point it may very well be).
Now for the bad news… the economy continues to walk a worryingly precarious line and predictions of a double dip loom over businesses nationwide.
The Christmas leftovers had barely been devoured before Nick Clegg (like the ghost of Christmas Future) warned that the coming year would be another tough one. And as the ringing of fireworks in the ears subsides, the overwhelming sound that can be heard is an intake of breath as businesses everywhere tighten their already strained belts.
What does this mean?
Businesses will look to make cuts and history has shown that PR is one of the first disciplines to go under the guillotine. But whilst this may be a temptation, hindsight teaches us that it is actually a big mistake.
The CIPR has shown that budgets were slashed in 2011 with more cuts to come in 2012. But cutting PR budgets or entirely removing PR reduces a company’s visibility within its core target audience. It eliminates conversations with customers and key media outlets that lead to people forgetting your brand. This makes the money already spent on PR wasted, as a gap in any strategy leads to a breakdown in communications, which will take additional funds to restore.
By embarking on PR during a recession a company is better placed to solidify a reputation as an expert in its field. A good PR strategy should transcend the practice of getting the word out. It can help define and develop reputations and, in tough times, protect your brand, articulating those values and practices central to your operating strategy and to your customers, and position you properly for future success.
With an industry standard ROI of 3:1, PR is one of the most measurable, cost effective and creative methods of communication and is essential to the success of any business within a recession.
As the cliché goes; the best defence is a good offense and the success of brands during difficult economic times will depend on their ability to be creative and flexible, seizing upon the opportunities that a recession presents and that companies with their heads in the sand will miss out on.
So, whilst the remains of your other resolutions may lie in tatters, make sure that your PR strategy is one resolution that goes the distance in 2012.