Why Getting Rid of PR Should Never Be an Option in Turbulent Times…

Your business is in trouble, profits are declining, you’re faced with having to cut costs or go under. You start looking at the books line by line to see where you can magically produce these savings.

Your eyes settle on the cost for your PR. There you go, job done. You can’t see the exact figure for the return on investment you’re getting from it, so why not get rid of the entire department or cut ties with your agency?

The answer to this conundrum is a clear, outright ‘no’, ‘never’, ‘please don’t!’

Of course, we’re going to say that PR is important for any business– we’re a PR agency after all, so we’d be pretty stupid not to.  But there are so many reasons why PR is even more necessary when a business is struggling.  Which is why we were pretty concerned to see Debenhams bosses are considering making redundancies across the organisation’s communications department in light of the financial troubles it’s having.

PR should be integral to your business:

While there is of course always going to be a cost associated with PR (we all have bills to pay too), what you need to take into account is just how much value your PR team is delivering to you. Building, nurturing (and defending) your overarching reputation, producing and disseminating impactful content that resounds with the people most important to you, getting your name and products/services out there in front of the right audience at the right time…. (we could go on).

There will always be debate across the industry about how return on investment from PR activity is demonstrated, and there will always be differing opinions on what works and what doesn’t (see one of our previous blogs on ROI measurement for more on this).   But, what’s evident is that a solid, well-executed PR strategy is absolutely integral to any business – whether you’re positively thriving or simply doing your best to keep surviving.

Don’t make big decisions in times of turbulence:

When problems arise within a business, or when things simply aren’t going brilliantly for you (this can be due to circumstances completely out of your control), the way you handle the situation can have a very real effect (positive or negative) on your brand – both now and in the future.

The way your organisation is portrayed is perhaps ever-more important in rougher times, and it’s vital that any communications you’re sharing with the wider world is credible, consistent, and absolutely aligned with your business ethos.

Not only is it crucial to consider the potential impact of any ‘rough patch’ on your customers and stakeholders, but it’s also just as important to consider your own members of staff and what it is that you’re communicating (or not) to them.  Any period of instability can cause employee unrest, can give competitors the chance to take advantage of any vulnerabilities, and can undermine your credibility.  All of which have the potential to impact your business irrevocably.

These are all issues that a PR agency will be highly trained to deal with, and they can help you weather the stormy waters and give you a fighting chance of the business not only staying afloat – but ultimately reaping the rewards of success again.  Suddenly getting rid of your PR team is like throwing lifeboats off the Titanic after it’s hit the iceberg, thinking if it’s lighter than the ship will take longer to sink – or miraculously remain afloat?!

Retain expertise:

Your PR team will help ensure you’re putting out the right messages both internally and externally, helping to keep your reputation as untarnished as possible. Getting rid of the very people who have these skills seems completely counterproductive – and short sighted – as it shows you’re only looking at how to cut short-term costs, and not at the shape your business will be in once you’ve got through the other side (if indeed you do…)

Watching a business you’ve built from the ground up suddenly looking a little rocky is a frightening experience – but that’s why it’s imperative that you have the right people around you.  Like any good friend, the right PR team will be there beside you through both the good times and the bad – working damn hard to promote, protect and defend your reputation at all times.

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