Skip to main content

By Kalli Vetrano

The possibility of a recession is a very real thought these days. With an economic downturn likely in our near future, proactive company leaders are already considering how to weather the storm. Cutting nonessentials is key, but many businesses make the knee-jerk mistake of cutting public relations when a strategic PR program is precisely what the company needs.

Here’s why saving public relations is an smart business decision:

Public Relations offers a consistent stream of communication with audiences that can relay that your company is stable and ready to provide support during turbulent times. The companies who cut public relations programming and go radio silent can appear as though they are no longer active or have ceased operations. For example, think back to the recession in the early ‘90s. McDonald’s mistakenly cut its marketing budget, allowing Pizza Hut and Taco Bell the opportunity to jump in to promote their new food offerings. As a result, their sales increased by 61 and 40 percent, respectively, while McDonald’s sales fell by 28%. Follow those two’s examples of ramping up PR and marketing efforts rather than cutting them. Your company will be able to show that it is still active and going strong rather than scrambling post-recession to regain an audience that has likely moved on.
Now you may be asking, how can my company create a constant stream of communication during these times? Here’s how a few recession-proof tactics can keep your company top of mind and set it up for sustainable success:

Media Relations for Relevancy

Even though consumer spending may slow during a recession, it’s important to continue telling your story credibly. This helps ensure customers and investors will be interested in hearing what you are doing during these times to stay afloat.

Keep your company relevant by conducting a media relations campaign. Through organically sourced editorial and interview opportunities, companies can educate audiences on the happenings within the company or share their insight on current industry events in a realm outside of their digital newsroom or social media channels. What many companies forget, when considering cutting PR, is that opportunities like these are the only way to have a trusted third party share your message.

Thought Leadership: Insight from the Source

While hosting largescale activations may be on hold, there are still budget-friendly ways to attract valuable attention. Swapping your high-priced celebrity ambassador for a thought leadership campaign featuring your C-Suite executives is a great way to utilize your talent resources in a meaningful way. By establishing a company spokesperson, or spokespeople, you build the foundation of company messaging directly from the source.

Thought leadership campaigns give the ability to put a face (or faces) to your content. Op-eds, bylines, videos, and blogs build credibility and trust by sharing expert insight and providing a unique perspective on industry topics. Companies can show how they lead by offering content that provides value and by examining issues, educating on them, and pointing toward a solution. Additionally, if journalists see that a company is consistent and creative in distributing quality content, it can help that company become a valuable source for media opportunities as well.

Social Media: Connecting with the Masses

These days, it’s the norm for companies to have some social media presence. No matter how robust your social media program is, a potential recession is a great time to take a step back and see how best to utilize having millions of people within reach.

While other businesses may scale back their social media efforts, companies like yours can take advantage of an “emptier” online market. Take this opportunity to fill the void with your company’s branded content. An example of this: in the early days of the pandemic in 2020, Swiffer launched its Adoption Sweep for National Pet Month program. While other competitors went dark, Swiffer doubled down on its promotion targeting pet lovers, resulting in over 1,000 pets being adopted as result of the campaign.

Just remember: if you put the time, energy, and effort into expanding your social media reach, sharing valuable content that resonates with your audience is a must. Without a strong strategy that empathizes with the consumer and offers some solution or resource, the entire social strategy may fall flat.

Digital Newsroom: Be a Resource

Another budget-friendly tactic to make the most of your public relations efforts during both turbulent and prosperous times is creating a digital newsroom. Let me correct that – it’s creating and maintaining a digital newsroom. Whether you strengthen your company’s public relations plan with a media relations campaign or distribute press releases or newsletters to various constituents, housing company updates and features in a central location on your website is vital to show that the company is active. It’s also a great resource for interested media, giving them one central location where they can find company information, read up on where spokespeople have been featured in the news, and find other information to help them build their knowledge of the company. 

Your company will showcase its strengths and messaging by utilizing these four tactics to build and maintain a strong presence in the media and other communication outlets. In addition, maintaining a loyal existing customer base will not only increase awareness and engagement but also showcase your brand or company to new audiences who may be looking for your services or products before, during, and after any recession.