the boom years, high-level public relations representation was highly
sought after by companies of all sizes. When the economic downturn hit and
executives toiled with last-straw strategies and tactics for identifying
hidden profit opportunities, public relations professionals saw their
share of pink slips. Now, as the economy continues to rebound, PR is once
again in favor.
Many people do not realize that practices that maximize profitability
during good economic times are the very same practices that help maximize
profits or minimize losses during downturns. A strategic public relations
campaign can strengthen a company's position and competitive edge during a
weak economy and support sales initiatives during a strong economy.
In an economic downturn, people still conduct business; there is just less
of it. Positioning a company as a market leader and measurably
increasing media visibility is what successful PR is all about. And
businesses that survive will be those with the shrewdest PR strategies,
the most creative approach to customers, the highest perceived value, the
greatest service during and after the sale, and the fiercest sales force.
When the economy is enjoying a rebound, public relations can support
well-established organizations while enhancing the reputations of smaller,
growing companies through public education. When the economy is up, so
follows the public's spirits. And when spirits are up minds tend to be
more open to new ideas. This is a breeding ground for innovative and
lively discussions designed to catapult one company over another. A robust
economy, by nature, sparks interest in new products and services while
offering opportunities for companies to provide thought-provoking and
Among the most effective public relations practices used by successful
companies is thought leadership. Thought leadership is the art of
communicating a strategic vision to others in an informative and
convincing way. Masters of thought leadership will not speak above or
below their audience, but directly to them. Understanding their public
enables thought leaders to position themselves as experts in their given
field while crafting their message in a way that influences their audience
in a positive manner.
For many companies, PR is an afterthought to strategic planning and can
appear to be out of sync with business objectives. PR should tie into
sales, desired results, and should speak directly to the company's
mission. It works best (in any economy) when tightly integrated with
marketing. And since one person cannot carry out an effective PR strategy,
the success of a campaign depends on the support, commitment and
involvement of the highest levels within the organization.
Today, the PR industry is under more scrutiny than ever before. The days
of building a company on hype and rumor are long gone - as are robust
retainers for lackluster returns. In any economy, smart companies
scrutinize their budgets. Regardless of the price paid, executives seek
quality and return on investment. This puts the PR industry under pressure
to show value for every hour worked and every dollar spent.
Tactical public relations should be quick, flexible, and cost effective.
Competitive and economic environments can change rapidly and lightening
fast response to these changing environments is crucial to the success of
any PR campaign. Long-term programs planned a year in advance with
exorbitant budgets are a thing of the past. Pretending to know what will
happen over the next 12 to 14 months is an unaffordable luxury.
By switching gears and returning to basics, public relations can be part
reconnaissance and part sales support. Whatever the economy, PR is a
worthwhile tool that can be used to add value to any organization.
Miller is Executive Director of BlabberMouth PR. Blake is a widely known
and respected professional in the hospitality and logistics industries.
With more than 20 years of sales, marketing and coaching experience,
Blake brings an insider's perspective to his role as Executive Director
of BlabberMouth PR.
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