Guide: How to Build a Convincing PR Budget
Companies are increasingly faced with the challenge of doing profitable business under constantly changing conditions – be they social or market-related.
In this context, it is crucial to remain relevant for consumers and to paint a positive picture with regard to one’s own reputation.
In times of unprecedented change, the right PR strategy can make a significant contribution to remaining authentic and trustworthy. However, despite the key role that PR plays, we know that convincing executives of the need for appropriate investment in a PR budget is no easy task.
A survey by PR Moment shows that CEOs are more concerned about their own company’s financial performance (58 percent) than any other metric, including corporate reputation (13 percent) and talent development (13 percent).
However, a company’s reputation and financial performance are inextricably linked. Especially in times of crisis like the Covid 19 pandemic, communication is a competitive advantage, as a recent Arlington survey showed.
But how do you convince boards and executives that spending on PR and communications makes sense and is absolutely justified?
This Sortlist guest post from Berkeley Communications shows how PR professionals can best prepare for budget discussions with management.
Table of contents
- 6 Steps to an Approved PR Budget
- The Right Answers to Questions About a PR Budget
6 Steps to an Approved PR Budget
Create a Plan and Link It to Business Goals
You might think this is an absolute no-brainer. However, there are many B2B companies that don’t have a communications plan, even though business goals can be achieved more quickly with it.
Without a clear strategic and communications plan, the board and senior management will question half-heartedly set goals and leaders will regularly struggle to protect their PR budget.
A communications plan doesn’t have to be long or complex – a few clearly defined areas of focus can make all the difference.
Knowledge Is as Important as Numbers
A PR update at a board meeting often consists of a presentation of the coverage generated, as well as key media KPIs such as volume, reach, and voice share in audiovisual media.
These points are all important, of course. But beyond that, you should also explain how new PR efforts:
- Relate to corporate goals
- The value of their coverage
- The plan for achieving relevant objectives
Insights gained through public relations – such as data on competitors, the industry, and how the media and customers perceive the brand – benefit the entire organization, not just corporate communications.
Be Adaptable and Agile
Planning is important, but adaptability and agility are critical. There’s no point in following a plan only to find at the end of a quarter that overall business goals have changed. Regular meetings with the board ensure that any planned activity remains current and relevant.
Public Relations May Not Always Be the Answer
Sometimes it helps to take a step back and examine where marketing budgets are best spent. This is especially true for companies looking to make their first foray into PR.
For these firms, PR spending can be a large part of their marketing budget. In some cases, however, it’s not PR they need for their purposes, but other communication tools like content marketing, lead generation, or SEO.
Develop Your Story
Every company has a story to tell – it just needs to be communicated in a compelling and engaging way. Storytelling brings PR campaigns to life.
A good story can position companies, or what they stand for, in a way that creates interest among audiences. A communications campaign based on this approach will be much more successful than relying solely on product updates and announcements.
Get Senior Leadership on Board With Storytelling
To get senior management, the executive committee, or the board excited about your communications approach, get them involved from the start.
Whether you want to make a message more memorable, create a compelling brand story, or talk about business plans and turnarounds: Storytelling is a great way to engage the intended audience – both internally and externally.
A messaging workshop to gather the views of senior management and then develop an appropriate strategy can create more identification, accountability, and motivation within senior management.
The Right Answers to Questions About a PR Budget
In order to best prepare for budget discussions with management, we have compiled 7 FAQs for corporate PR managers and provided answers.
Why Should I Spend Money on PR?
Public relation is a critical component of the marketing mix. PR is the only communication tool through which businesses can generate support from neutral third parties as well as valuable coverage from trusted media experts.
To serve the media, the PR team creates a wealth of material, such as success stories, technical papers, white papers, infographics, or videos.
These all serve the purpose of fueling marketing campaigns and are used in other departments as well. Marketing activities are all the more effective the more customers they can reach and the more trust they can generate in the brand.
What Does a PR Agency Do?
A modern PR agency should offer value for money and put a company’s story in perspective through appropriate storytelling.
This includes telling the story to the media, writing the website, running a content marketing program, creating videos, and running social media channels.
Clear and transparent planning in the context of your goals helps explain to senior leadership what the PR budget is being used for and to what end.
Does the Target Audience Actually Read the Media?
The way we consume news and information is constantly evolving. It’s up to the PR team to tell a company’s story to the relevant target audience through the right channels.
These can be trade magazines or national media, online news hubs and specialized media websites. What works for one company may not be right for another.
Defining a multi-level media list from the outset ensures that each campaign is designed to generate maximum coverage in the places where customers and prospects get their daily news or industry insights.
Can PR Generate Leads?
In short, yes!
The secret is in the story you tell. Creating content plans across many different channels ensures that it reaches customers and prospects. Before PR leaders go into the meeting with senior leadership, they should go through a series of key questions to place ideas and get appropriate budgets approved or increased.
PR Is Long-Term, but What if I Need Quick Results?
While brand awareness is a part of public relations that can take some time, any program should be multi-faceted.
All PR plans start with a plan that meets the client’s business goals. This allows it to quickly support the business and help reach a broader audience.
What ROI Can PR Bring to My Business?
The best way to demonstrate ROI is to develop a public relations strategy that fuels business goals. If you can show that public relations has a direct impact on business success, the ROI battle is won.
Our first question is always, “What are you trying to accomplish?” If the answer is brand awareness or strengthening a company’s reputation, public relations can accomplish a lot.
However, that success is difficult to measure in terms of leads. That’s why PR managers should ask themselves what measures they can use to make a company more successful purely through positive arguments and impressive facts. If this succeeds, it is much easier to convince the potential client.
How Do I Measure PR Success?
Although there is no magic metric to validate success, this question is always easier to answer. PR is typically measured by audience reach and the percentage of relevant mentions in target publications.
However, it can also provide valuable insights such as competitive and industry data, and show the business how the media and customers perceive you. All of this is important information for management and can be used throughout the group to demonstrate the value of PR.
This article was written by Florian Schafroth. He heads the agency Berkeley Kommunikation, a Munich-based PR agency focusing on storytelling in the IT, tech, and automotive sectors.