PR in a Recession

Those of you that have attended our PR workshop or WPE seminar will be familiar with Paula from Do your own PR. She provides honest & sensible advice for small businesses empowering them to do their own PR. After all – no one has the passion or knowledge for a business like an owner. Paula will be providing advice for us on a monthly basis; she starts with PR in a recession.

It’s easy to comprehend that PR offers fantastic bang for the buck in a recession. Indeed, if you are doing your own PR your main outlay is time. But PR during a recession is not the same animal as it is during a boom time. Publications will close and there is severe competition for existing coverage. What’s more, fear and short-term survival tactics can prompt businesses to conduct their marketing and PR in a way that might even damage their reputation in the long term. Read on for Do Your Own PR’s guide to surviving PR during the credit crunch.

1. Don’t Be Tempted to Over-Use The Recession

As editor of I get sent a lot of press releases, and at the moment every second release features the credit crunch or recession in one form or other. And imagine what the big publications must be getting. Using the same old hook as everyone else (unless it really is your main story) means that your releases won’t stand out, and that you will look like another copycat. Instead, think about trying to come up with a fresh and unusual approach that will ensure you stand out amongst all the others.

2. Beware Price Cutting

Whilst more buying decisions are being made on a value for money basis, don’t think that slashing prices and running offers your customers can’t refuse is going to be the answer to all your problems. Consider your brand identity – if it starts to be associated with discounting that will that have repercussions in the long term. Of course, we all want value – but what extras can you add that will make your offering so attractive that people will want to buy it regardless?

3. Position Yourself or Your Business as The Market Leader

Recessions do have casualties. Fact. And your competitors might well be amongst them. This is an ideal time to position yourself to move to the forefront. Check out your competitors’ weak points and move accordingly. If your competitors have a bad name in customer service, make that your strength and build a campaign around it. If you’re an information service business, show your clients and customers that you’ve plenty of advice and ideas for them – and give away copious amounts of it as a taster to walk your talk. It may sound a lot of effort, but it’s this effort that will ensure you stay in for the long haul.

4. Your Existing Customers are Your Best Ambassadors

How can you get your existing customers and clients to be become your very own sales force? Some ideas might be to set up a forum where they can interact and attract website traffic, or create an affiliate scheme so that they can incur a financial benefit from mentioning your products and services, or just merely encourage them to pass on your name to friends and colleagues.

5. They Are Also Your Best Source of Income

We all know that it’s more profitable to sell to existing and past clients than spend time and money trying to find new ones. On that premise what can you offer your clients to strengthen that bond between you? Last year I created in a newsletter just for clients. Called Building the Buzz, it contains more nitty gritty and how-to advice than Get Noticed, and it’s my thank you for being a client of Do Your Own PR. And do you know, it’s worked extremely well and all I have to do is write it – which is enjoyable in itself. What can you do for your clients and customers? An open evening? A card saying thank you for working with us? Come on, use your imagination…

6. Don’t Be Tempted To Go Cheap

If running events is part of your thing, then suddenly swapping the Champagne and canapés for ham sarnies and coffees is not going to help engender confidence. Of course, now is not the time to be be flash, even if you’ve got the cash, but you do have to help keep up the impression that you’re not about to fold any moment. So, with that goes other cost cutting exercises as moving to poor quality stationery, flimsy business cards and cheap and rubbish answering services. By all means, phone before sending out samples to check that they are wanted, and bring in a borrow and photo policy, rather than just giving them out for free, but consider every cost cutting exercise and the impression it can give off.

7. Think About The Press

There’s no doubt that, just like everyone else, journalists will be under job pressure.  They’ll be expected to do more in less time to keep their jobs, so presenting them with stories that are effectively already researched and written will often be pleasantly welcomed. The amount of freelancers out there will rise, so using time wisely to grow your list of freelancers is vital. Human-interest stories are always important in dark times, so pulling together your case stories is a priority. Target well – a morning on the phone talking to five journalists from publications you know are great for you, might be much more profitable than a morning spent sending one release out to 500 people you’ll never get to speak to.

Finally, don’t panic. Think things through and ask yourself, would I do this under other circumstances. If the answer is no, take a second look before taking any action.

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