How Public Relations Firms Can Handle the Oars While Rowing a Company through Recession Waters

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The US Department of Labor recently provided stark evidence of just how much the job market has buckled under the weight of the housing, credit, and financial crises. Jittery employers have slashed 80,000 jobs of late, the most in five years, and the national unemployment rate has climbed to 5.1%, the department said. Job losses are nearing the staggering level of a quarter million for 2008 in just three months, while the jobless rate has risen three-tenths of a percentage point. The million-dollar question for PR professionals, of course, is whether or not the PR industry is suffering, too.

According to various recent surveys and reports, the PR industry is one of those few industries which has not been hit particularly hard by the recent economic downturn; rather, PR professionals have been “hit” more by increasing workloads and overtime schedules. Surprised? Well, the fact is that industries related to all sectors need public relations professionals even more during a recession, and hence PR careers and public relations jobs are actually continuing on a slow but steady rise. This is a time when all firms, including public relations firms, should communicate with investors and customers intensely and try to maintain their trust rather than letting those relationships go cold as so many firms have during past recessions.

The Role of Public Relations Management



Those firms who try to save money rather than maintaining their customers through public relations might actually lose money in the long run. It’s fairly indisputable nowadays that advertising and marketing campaigns are not as cost-effective as PR efforts. Metrica, a global media analysis and evaluation company, recently released a new report on the effectiveness of PR. According to the analysis, public relations strategies are typically ten times more cost-effective than advertising and 300 times more cost-effective than direct marketing. Emmy Award winner David Henderson, the author of The Media Savvy Leader, has noted that “Public relations today achieves influence, more meaningful results, and greater credibility than any other tool available in a company’s marketing arsenal.”

The Public Relations Strategy

Here are some tips from experts that firms can incorporate into their plans in times of economic trouble:
  • The most important thing? Do not hit the panic button and succumb to the perceptions created by the media’s sensational coverage, alarmist talks, and other fears and emotions. As Henderson has said, “Our perceptions may be real when we see different things in a cloud, but could it just be our imagination running away with us?”

  • Identify target audiences while keeping in view the immediate problems faced by the firm, and then formulate public relations campaigns according to the findings.

  • Positivity is the key to navigating through troubled waters. Never underestimate it. You might even lose your public relations job, but chances are more than likely that you will find another one very easily if you are competent enough.

  • Redirect business strategies to win over lower-tier clients from big firms and towards stable firms which are doing fairly well in the midst of the recession.

  • Try to connect marketing efforts and PR in terms of profitability and credibility, the latter being a primary benefit of PR. What is critical is that PR professionals prove the effectiveness of their efforts and demonstrate true ROI to those that hold the purse strings.

  • Both traditional media hits and public relations media, if targeted with the right sense of precision and vision, can inspire social engagements, leads, search engine optimization (SEO), and greater faith from customers.

  • Also, be more creative in engineering PR events for your company shareholders, as these can result in outstanding value for your firm and generate much-needed leads.
Conclusion

Companies hit hard by the current economic blight should actually increase their PR efforts in a bid to solidify their relationships with existing customers and gain new ones. If looked at from the right perspective, the current recession could prove to be a boon rather than a bane. Adversity can be used in a positive way to nurture new hope, to develop new relations, and to reach new heights.
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