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Knee-jerk budget cuts will hurt your PR in the long run

Covid cuts started in March 2020 and saw many businesses making some difficult decisions. This is not the first time that my business has endured such cuts over the past 18 years, but it never gets easier. This week I experienced another cost-cutting decision, but instead of an outright cancellation of his PR retainer, this insightful client asked to reduce it slightly to ease the burden of a slowing pipeline because of Covid.

It is often just simpler to look at a retainer cost and just cut it outright, without any regard for the consequences for the business and its brand. It’s easy to assume there are no serious consequences but there are. And while on a superficial level it seems like a good savings decision, it inadvertently creates a loss.

Using my current client as an example, we have been building his brand for a few months now and are finally getting some traction. In PR, I believe that you need a minimum of six months to make any impact, anything shorter does PR no favours.  When asked why, I often explain that when you are in the business of shaping perceptions, it will take more than one interaction, one conversation, or one thought leadership piece to be noticed. Then you need to start working on changing perceptions or establishing them, neither of which is a quick process. So, when you decide to cut the entire retainer, you not only stop progress, but you have also wasted all the effort made leading up to that point, resulting in a negative PR outcome.

“In PR, I believe that you need a minimum of six months to make any impact”

My client decided to not undo all the hard work done and opted to rather cut the level of activity to create some breathing room for his startup. It is honestly such a wise decision, and I am so impressed with his lateral thinking, especially for a CA. Joking.

I know things are tough, we all feel it in one way or another, but rather than knee-jerk your budget free, consider alternative approaches, speak to your consultants and appeal to them too. You never know what solution they can come up with that will help you get some much-needed wiggle room in a tight spot.

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