The global conflicts and pandemic brought out the best and the worst of businesses, communities, and people. Without going into specifics, we will use behavior in such scenarios to examine how winners and losers look at publicity and marketing. And you can decide if you want to be in the small circle of winners, or not.
Already, we see all manners of businesses in the mainstream media, especially those irrationally exuberant tech companies, taking rather drastic steps of reducing costs by broadly laying off workers. From A to Z, tech and non-tech companies have slashed thousands to tens of thousands of workers.
Smart way of spending money
In a recession, those who are well to do will continue to be, and can indulge in whatever they want. These consumers will buy both what they need, and what they desire. However, the rest of the folks will have to determine if buying something is essential or not.
It is the same with businesses.
In a recession, businesses may watch over their costs and expenses. There is a limit to which they can reduce their spending before they are skin and bones and ineffective and unable to compete, and even collapse. They need to know how to spend, where to spend, when to spend, and who or which to spend on. The smarter businesses spend, the more they can invest in avenues which can potentially harvest the greatest returns.
Many small and medium businesses tend to cut back on what they perceive as discretionary spending, such as marketing and publicity. And when the recession hits bottom and goes on a rebound towards economic recovery, these businesses need to completely rekindle their now invisible and unknown brands compared to others, and need to spend a lot more than ever before. And some simply collapse from anonymity since consumers no longer know or never ever knew who these businesses are. No business will wait for another competitor, and time does not stop for anyone either.
Nail the recession with smart publicity
The secret to smart spending and to ride through the rough waters of a recession, is to understand history. 75% of recessions end under a year, while 30% don’t even last beyond half a year. All recessions end.
With this understanding, while most of your competition cower in irrational fear, hit the market and your competition hard.
While your competition timidly retreat by cutting workers, cutting marketing and publicity dollars, you spend, or even spend more.
In a recession, media owners very often experience a drop in advertising revenue, and are more likely to give great discounts and better packages to advertisers. At the same time, while your competition hide in the shadows, you can work with your public relations agency to seed the media and the public with more news and events of your business. The media will likely see fewer vendor submissions, and so unlike good times where you find it much harder to get in the news, a recession may likely work in your favor.
4 key steps to public relations in a recession
What are the 4 most important considerations?
Plan early, and listen in to the global situation, and park sufficient annual retainer budgets with your agency, or agencies if you operate in many countries. Project-based public relations may only work if you have something spectacular to launch that the whole world desires. But for most businesses, especially business-to-business ones, will need to think retained public relations.
Zoom in on what mainstream media you intend to target, and then work with your public relations agency to find what best platforms work for your paid media representation. Sponsored or branded content can be useful in circumstances where you need to say what you need to say, as opposed to having unbiased third parties such as editors say what matters most to the public.
Your agency, and supplemented by your team in pulsing the market, should be able to find out what the world is chatting about, and what relevance your business can play in such conversations. Rapid response and newsjacking are exceptionally important in many developed markets to get on top of earned media.
Once trending news topics are identified by your agency, are your spokespersons ready and prepared at short notice, without the need for extraneous briefings or preparation, go on air to talk at length about such topics? This is super important. If your spokespersons are seldom ever ready, they need to first be made ready, with media training, internal rehearsals, and self-preparation and familiarization of business portfolios and analyses.
Advertising campaigns may be guerrilla in nature, while public relations demand a retained program over years to keep your brand up and above your competition. Consistency and repeatability are key to your success. So continue to build your publicity efforts with your public relations agency, don’t stop!
Seamus Phan has 35 years of professional experience. Polymath Problem-Solver & Strategist – Leadership, Cybersecurity, Branding, Crisis, Scientist, Artist, Author, Aviation, and Theologian. Some articles are reproduced at McGallen & Bolden, where he is CTO and Head of Content. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2023.