Are PR budgets under attack?

Survey responses from the PR and Measurement Survey.

Last week Wallop! OnDemand released a survey report containing information about current PR budget trends. One of the things the report revealed was that for most PR professionals, budgets have either shrunk recently, or they’ve remained static. Very few agencies or businesses have had the luxury of seeing their PR budgets grow. In fact, according to the report, 42 percent of PR pros have recently experienced a budget cut, while another 46 percent are stuck with static budgets. Only 12 percent of PR professionals have experienced budget growth in the last 12 months.   

So, what do these numbers mean? Are PR budgets under attack? Are companies losing faith and pulling their money out of PR? Should industry professionals be worried that 38 percent of communications professionals saw a company cut PR entirely in 2010?

Not necessarily. Here’s my take on these numbers…

When you pair these budget trends with the rising expectations clients have for their PR programs, it seems likely that what businesses actually want is for PR to optimize programs and produce more with less. Agencies and PR departments that can find a way to do this will be able to deliver what their clients and executives want: great results and great value.

When your clients expect bigger and better results without a bigger investment, you have your work cut out for you. In this case, you need to seriously evaluate your campaign and identify what is working and what is not. By doing so you’ll be able to capitalize on the areas of your campaign that are producing the best results. Then you can adjust or eliminate PR efforts that aren’t delivering.

Take a look at the business outcomes your execs expect PR to accomplish, and revisit the PR goals your team has set. Ask yourself how successful you’ve been at reaching those goals, and determine if there are ways to streamline efforts and make the program more efficient. Be sure to use actual data to help you evaluate and improve your strategy. When budget dollars are on the line, you want to be making informed decisions and not just guessing. The unfortunate truth is that when PR teams don’t deliver what clients and executives want, their budgets are in jeopardy, and they may even run the risk of being replaced.

Continuing to measure results and evaluate your program will allow you to make better decisions and fine tune your strategy so that your campaign will be in top working order. That way you’ll be in a position to impress clients and executives by giving them what they truly want – a PR program that can achieve more with less.

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