If you don’t fight for a budget increase, it might get reduced.
This can be a sore subject for PR pros, many of whom are locked in an eternal struggle for their rightful piece of the pie. Resources at most companies are scarce, and the competition with marketing and other communications functions can be fierce. A budget shortfall makes it nearly impossible to invest in technology or pursue substantive growth.
It’s an uphill battle to win more monetary investment, but all is not lost. Here are five tips for securing your desired PR budget:
1. Understand company goals.
Forget about your personal goals. Build your strategy (and expenditures) around specific company objectives. Overall company goals for the year are often broad, such as these:
- Expand into international markets.
- Launch two new products.
- Complete a rebranding.
- Increase customer retention.
- Increase new business sales.
- Control the cost of a new business acquisition.
Once you know which data points are important to executives, you can craft a narrative of how PR can help achieve those objectives. Establish the data points you plan to report on to ensure the plan is working, and clarify the budget and technology you’ll need to deliver both the results and the data.
2. Provide strategic insights and relevant data.
PR pros can get attention and gain credibility with earned media coverage, which still holds plenty of weight. PR is also uniquely positioned to be an unexpected source of industry and competitive information.
With the right PR software, you can provide insight into industry trends, popular topics, competitive plays, key influencers and more. Is your company launching a new product? Public relations can provide competitive benchmarks from similar product launches, historical benchmarks against previous product launches or even best-in-class benchmarking. Compare your launch to Apple or Tesla, or a local competitor, for example.
3. Shift money from press release distribution.
If you have to move some money around, this is an option. Today, distributing one press release often costs at least $1,500. What do you get for that money?
Backlinks that benefit SEO? Unfortunately, Google has discounted most press release links.
Featured articles in high-quality publications? Press releases don’t typically get picked up by heavy hitters out of the blue.
Niche articles from key influencers? No, influencers are not reading random press releases.
An email showing that you have sent a press release? Sure, but what about substantive engagement metrics that can prove ROI?
Press release dollars are often better spent elsewhere.
4. Partner with your marketing team.
Can’t afford the tools you need? Here are a few ways to use existing marketing technology for your PR efforts:
Publish press releases to a blog site. Rather than pay to have your release ignored, post your announcement to your company blog. Your SEO pro will love the high-quality, on-site content that can be shared and backlinked. Your PR team can then use links to the press release you have published to your site in their targeted outreach.
Use email outreach software to automate story pitching. To reach relevant journalists, use an email program like Hubspot Sales or Outreach.io. Then make a list of potential influencers and a customizable template of your pitch. Use software that lets you track email opens, so you can home in on potential prospects and gauge which subject lines and messages are resonating.
Partner with your web analytics team. These experts have a trove of information on who is visiting your site, what they do once they get there and how they arrived. To stay relevant, PR pros must learn how to use website data to prove ROI and refine strategies.
5. Prove earned media ROI.
The final hurdle for any budget increase from executives is often: “What will I get for the money I spend?”
Here are a few earned media metrics that prove the ROI of your efforts:
- Website referral traffic driven by earned media coverage
- Website goal conversions driven by earned media placements
- PR attribution: Estimation of all traffic driven by media mentions
- Deals influenced by earned media coverage
Your success doesn’t stop once you get the buy-in and budget. Throughout the year, deliver on the results you promised, prove your ROI with relevant data, and don’t be shy about singing your team’s praises. That will put you in good standing for whenever the next budget battle arrives.
A version of this post first appeared on the TrendKite blog.