Lena Ahad, Director of Technology PR says: “In an economic downturn, some businesses panic and switch off their marketing spend. This is completely counter productive.
Salespeople are still expected to close deals and hit quarterly targets – yet this process is made more difficult if the market requires education about your product or service and there’s no communication support to get your key messages across.”
Ahad, who has successfully run campaigns for leading technology firms such as IBM, Cisco, BT and supported start-ups in the UK, Europe and Northern America, adds: “PR drives business value – at a lower cost than any other marketing function. For existing and potential customers, editorial coverage still confers independent validation of the company’s offering and so can help influence purchasing decisions, deliver great results and help maintain a level of stability whilst the business rides out the recession. The question isn’t should we have a PR programme – but what PR firm should we partner with to get the best results.”
Guidelines for businesses to secure communications success:
- Get your messages right: If your target market doesn’t understand your proposition they won’t buy your service or product. Review your website and collateral and get rid of jargon. Sounds simple – but so many companies get this basic step wrong.
- Spend smart: Think carefully about where you are spending your communications budget and prioritise what you want to achieve. Be realistic about what it will cost to fund activities and bring in specialists to augment your own resources in order to ensure success. The old motto – “you get what you pay for” – is still true, even in this economic climate.
- Continue to educate your audiences: Develop a regular stream of compelling news stories and by-line articles demonstrating thought leadership which will help to ensure that you have continued mindshare – and differentiate your offerings against the undifferentiated ‘noise’ from your competitors. Remember: “out of sight is out of mind”.
- Demonstrate your successes: Organisations prefer to buy from companies that can prove their success in the market. So encourage customer case studies and testimonials at the outset (this shouldn’t be an afterthought). Have open discussions with your customers and invite your communications team to be part of the process early on.
- Partner with an expert that shares your passion and understands your goals: All PR agencies are not the same and nor are the consultants who work in them. So find a team that has the breadth and depth of experience to support your business goals – and the passion to get you meaningful results. Understand what success looks like – don’t be tempted to judge on tactical criteria such as the number of press clips that have been generated, but measure whether the campaign has improved your market awareness. Look to your agency to guide you – and be prepared to take their advice.