At the peak of the recession the first casualties were PR and marketing budgets either through the slashing of costs or the removal of activity all together. Of course when times are tough it can be difficult to see why PR and marketing spend should be maintained; a change of perception is clearly required to see it as an investment rather than an expense.
It might be necessary to trim the fat, but too much and the business is left exposed. We maintained the majority of our client portfolio during the recession by reassessing campaign activity and suggesting leaner cost solutions.
Research has proven that companies who invest in PR and marketing during a downturn come out stronger. When the market picks up, the brand presence has been maintained allowing the customer base to return and spend. Journals including ₁‘Turing adversity into an advantage: Does proactive marketing during a recession pay off?’ cite examples such as Intel launching “Intel Inside” during the 1990–91 recession and Wal-Mart scooping the competition with “Every Day Low Prices” amidst the dot-com bust. Companies such as Dell, Microsoft, De Beers and BMW are also included examining their aggressive marketing strategies during the downturn which yielded results during the post-recession recovery.
Once set goals and revenue are achieved, relieved sales managers can pull the curtains for PR, feeling that the job is done; sit back, relax! But many recognisable brands and small businesses continue with campaigns. Coca-Cola is recognised worldwide and is another example of a brand that continues to invest in PR and marketing activity, despite global success.
Brand maintenance is a key part of PR; businesses shouldn’t just take it when sales decline or something goes wrong. PR gets your business where it should be and keeps it there. Cutting the budget might be necessary just as increasing it to stand out in the crowd to ensure success is maintained. PR isn’t just about launching a product, dealing with a crisis or increasing sales when it’s all gone to pot. The shrewd strategy is to maintain presence with the intermittent big stories for ultimate results. It’s perfectly logical.
Cutting the budget for PR and marketing can prove costly, particularly when targets are increased due to previous success...
1 Srinivasan, Raji, Arvind Rangaswamy, and Gary L. Lilien. “Turning adversity into advantage: Does proactive marketing during a recession pay off?” International Journal of Research in Marketing 22 (2005), 109–125.