In Difficult Economy, PR Offers the Most Cost Effective Marketing Tool

Mt. Kisco, NY, (PRWEB) January 6, 2009 — With the country in a now-admitted recession, many companies, large and small, are being forced to tighten their purse strings and take a closer look at their budgets, including marketing.

"This presents a catch-22, however," says Robin Russo, president of Robin Leedy & Associates (RL&A), a full service public relations agency in Mount Kisco, NY. "In tough economic times as consumers cut back or make more informed decisions about how to spend their dollars, companies need to — now more than ever — continue to market themselves to their various constituents — not stop and fall off the radar altogether."

While advertising can be quite costly, public relations, she adds, is a great way to get more mileage out of reduced marketing budgets, since PR typically is one of the more cost-effective options.

"During recessionary periods, smart companies, save by tightening the reigns on higher-cost marketing tactics, such as advertising, and delegate a larger percentage of their smaller marketing budgets for PR, which delivers a better CPM and ROI," says Russo, whose 22-year old PR agency specializes in OTC healthcare, beauty products and dietary supplements for small to midsize companies. "Firms like Robin Leedy & Associates are well situated to help extend a company’s marketing budget through both traditional media relations and social media, the newest tool that is going gangbusters in the PR arena. We had a very good year in 2008, in part because we are doing so much social media through our new ChatterRL&A division, which cuts out the middle man — the media — and talks to consumers directly."

To help ensure a profitable PR campaign during a recession, Russo recommends the following:

  • Get more "bang for your buck" with smaller agencies: Whether for advertising, PR, or whatever marketing channel you are interested in pursuing, smaller firms are usually better equipped to handle smaller budgets, since they often have less overhead, are used to working with smaller/tighter budgets, yet can still give clients individualized attention.

"At RL&A, we have a relatively small, select group of clients that we typically work with for several years as opposed to the revolving client roster that many of the large Manhattan agencies have," says Russo. "Since we regularly work with smaller budgets, we pride ourselves on maximizing the effectiveness of each dollar spent, and getting our clients a strong return on their investment, all while making our clients feel like they are getting the service of a larger agency."

  • Buyer beware — Find an agency with a specialty/expertise to best meet your needs: Whether you are looking for financial/IR, B-to-B or consumer PR, there is an agency that specializes in what you do. "Having an expertise in a business category is particularly important in PR, since it means that the agency knows this industry well and should have relationships with the trade as well as with the media who report on these types of brands," adds Russo. "Having an agency that specializes means that your budget will go toward getting results versus educating the agency on your industry. With budgets being so tight right now, this is key to selecting the right agency for you." We often turn away business if it doesn’t meet our expertise, but in this economy, other agencies may not, adds Russo.

  • Focus on social media as well as traditional media outlets: These days, PR specialists need to be especially creative when putting together PR campaigns, since the competition for editorial space is at a premium, with all the national news filling most of the news hole. "The national news this year has been so intense – with the election, Wall Street collapse and economy, that we’ve learned to be extremely creative when developing our strategy, which now typically includes social media as well as traditional," she advises. "Through our social media division, ChatterRL&A, we cost-effectively reach a client’s target consumers right where they are talking about your category, your brand or your topic. We pinpoint the places where key conversations about your products are happening online to get your brand into the discussion, without spending a lot of dollars to do so." Ask an agency how long they’ve been doing social media and to see examples of their work in the digital arena, she adds.

  • Go to online media: While the economy has been deteriorating, media outlets have also been affected. While many magazines have been folding, other magazines and newspapers have been shutting down their print editions and focusing solely on online editions. "With more and more people turning to the Internet for their news, and, with the rise in social/digital media, PR agencies need to also focus their attention on the .com media, not solely the bloggers, to communicate their clients’ messages," Russo says.

  • Research cost-effective tactics: Being able to cost-effectively reach a variety of mediums on small budgets can be a challenge, which is why an agency that specializes is so important. "For example, with many years of experience working in the area of mom and baby products, and thereby parenting media and the all-important ‘mommy bloggers,’ RL&A offers a ‘Mommy & Child Co-Op’ PR package," says Russo. "This event and program will not only put your products in the face of coveted parenting media during the media open house, it will also result in broadcast and print placements through TV and print tactics." Splitting the costs across clients makes it more affordable for all involved during these difficult financial times, she adds.

"I would never say that PR will ever completely replace advertising," says Russo, "but PR can be a great, cost-effective alternative during a tough economy, as well as a great complement to any marketing plan during good economic times."

To find out how PR can extend your marketing dollars to help you reach target audiences more cost effectively, visit www.robinleedyassociates.com or contact Robin Russo at (914) 241-0086, ext 16, for a complimentary media audit.

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