The best marketers will be upping, not cutting, budgets, and we're hearing from people who are regretting decisions they made back in March.

 
 

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone

To crib from the legend that is Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ is a line that has rarely been more poignant than it is right now.

So many of us are currently fully appreciating things which before the Covid-19 outbreak we had taken for granted - freedom, family, socialising, human contact…or creature comforts, such as a favourite coffee shop. Many businesses are also taking stock and appreciating now what they no longer have - the face to face meetings, the office camaraderie or – in some cases – the services they have cancelled.

The effects of Covid-19 plunged many businesses into survival mode, almost overnight. Times are tough for many, who are doing whatever they can to weather the storm by battening down the hatches and cutting costs whilst making the most of arising opportunities and government interventions.

Some, as soon as they began to get a whiff of how the crisis might affect their business, terminated contracts as quickly as they furloughed staff, in order to give their business a fighting chance of survival.

Can you afford to lose ground to your competitors?

Now, weeks on from the beginning of the lockdown, remote working and social distancing period, we are hearing from business owners who are regretting decisions they made back in March. One of those decisions is cutting PR spend. Now of course we would say that’s a bad idea, wouldn’t we? Except this isn’t us saying it. This is a company director:

“I’m seeing our biggest competitor everywhere. They’re in the media, commenting on the market and current situation; they’re sharing advice on LinkedIn that people are engaging with. I feel we are losing ground and our decision to cut our PR spend is now feeling a little hasty.”

And he’s not the only one. The fear of missing out is creeping in for some businesses, weeks after making cuts. They’re missing their slice of the action, seeing competitors being active and useful on social media, watching their profile increase as they share successes with regional business news outlets, and wishing they’d been there first - or at least alongside them.

The best marketers will be upping, not cutting, budgets

It may seem paradoxical, but economic dowturns actually provide opportunities for marketers to grow their brand’s market share if they’re prepared to think long-term. It’s well-documented that companies that increased advertising budgets during the last recession grew sales much more quickly than their rivals, not only during the downturn but also beyond it.

While some businesses have completely cut PR, marketing, advertising and digital spend in recent months, others have taken a longer-term view and have secured budgets, albeit reduced in some cases, as essential spend. One of the reasons we’re hearing for that is that furloughing sales teams has cut off a big chunk of their market visibility, and they see PR as key to helping them maintain presence and profile.

Communication during this time of change is key to reassuring employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders that you are still operating, albeit perhaps a little differently. Staying visible now puts your business in a stronger position for the future. Switch off communication completely and you risk losing goodwill, losing ground to your competitors, missing out on business opportunities – the list goes on.

One thing is certain, we will all take much less for granted when this is over. We’ll appreciate what we do have so much more in the future. So, our closing piece of advice to you is don’t just think about the here and now. Think about what you want to go back to and appreciate the small stuff as well as the big. Take it from those in the know and don’t rush to cut PR; you’ll miss it sooner than you think.


The Partners team is working hard to support our clients and help them review communications plans, keep customers, teams and stakeholders informed and updated, and make sure their businesses are best placed to bounce back when this storm has passed. If you have questions about how best to communicate in the current situation, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.


    
 
The Partners Group

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