If you are in a business that has already felt the chill winds of recession and spending cuts, you should be devoting time to reshaping your PR and marketing plans to maintain a toehold in customers’ minds – and to take advantage of the upturn, whenever it happens.
You can always cut down on the numbers of ‘free’ lunches you dish out, the advertisements you place or the media releases you issue, but you cannot eliminate communication totally from your budget. If you are selling product or service, you must be able to communicate with existing and potential customers.
Right now, I am talking to current – and also, I hope, future – clients about communicating into the next upturn.
One sector of industry I’ve been looking at, for example, has a dozen or so main players offering similar products. All the companies have websites, which reveal significant differences in the underlying quality of their B2B PR material – leaving me wondering what drives traffic to some of the sites in the first place.
In this example, there is huge opportunity for one of the players to claim the PR high ground, building top-of-mind awareness among specifiers and users through a forward-thinking campaign that focuses on what the company offers, the projects with which it has been involved, and the thought leadership it provides. It needs to address the content of its website, and it needs to encourage more visitors.
A campaign like this does not have to be expensive, and the business benefits will certainly outweigh the initial costs. The potential advantage for the company is that it can take the lead while competitors are still sleeping in depression. If the company does not take this advice, it may find itself struggling to play catch-up when the economy revives.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.