I have been hearing a few comments that 2009 will be a good time for public relations because companies will be looking to save money and PR is a better way to reach people for less than advertising.
I disagree strongly. For sure companies will be reducing budgets in 2009, although I believe there are enough people out there that understand slashing A&P to zero is not a smart reaction to a bear market. But this is a time of unparalleled opportunity, a time where brands will be made or broken. And the differentiator, IMHO, will be how cleverly companies communicate – how they explore new ideas and approaches, integrating social media and other innovative ways of reacting to customers and communicating with customers. The winners will be the companies that communicate more effectively with their customers and stakeholders throughout times of uncertainty.
You might think that a recession is a time to be conservative and play it safe. You know, do the things that you know work, perhaps just less of them. But 2009 is going to be an amazing time for those who are brave enough to try new approaches and bring innovation to play, to invest in building their brands while competitors are trying to just protect their brands using old tools and scant resources.
The need to bring a new intelligence into play means challenging existing strategies, tools and relationships. It’s going to mean re-examining the company and its communications needs, adapting processes and strategies to meet the demands of a fast-moving market and embracing fast changes in media and other channels to reach customers and the people that influence them.
This is a good time to bring in experienced communicators to work alongside your own teams, to start challenging the business from C-level down, reworking the way that the organisation talks to its audiences to drive more value into the company’s communications using smarter, technology-led direct communications and online communications tools in particular.
Advertising has its role to play, so does PR. But the opportunity is for smart communicators – whatever their discipline, client-side and agency-side. It's not just about 'this way is cheaper', because it really needs to be about 'this way is smarter'...
This piece originally appeared as one of the chucklesomely named 'A Moment with McNabb' colums in Campaign Middle East magazine.