Got an Extra $250k in Your PR Budget?

moneyWhen I ask my friends in PR what they’d do with a bigger budget, their first instinct is to smile that “yeah, right!” smile. It’s hard enough to keep the budget they have much less be handed a bigger slice of the pie. But when pushed, they usually say they’d spend the extra mil on staffing and training — underscoring that people drive this business. Not technology. Not even research. If you don’t have the right people and give them ongoing training, then you are destined for mediocrity.

I adjusted the question a bit when I recently queried thousands of communicators via our social platforms. Instead of $1 million, which seemed too round and unrealistic a number, the survey asked “what would you do if you had an extra $250,000 in your budget”? Seems more realistic, right?

The answers were telling: while “more staff and training” was the #1 answer again, a few other ideas took on some weight, influencer relations and video being two of them. Many of you chose to spend the $250k on research and analytics or branding/corporate identity initiatives.

Corporate consolidation, layoffs, restructuring and the changing role of PR vis–à–vis marketing and social media make doing our jobs harder. Reading between the lines of these survey results, I am confident it’s not about getting more people to do more things. It’s more about having the right people focusing on the right things at a time when our stakeholders are distracted and less likely to believe everything you put in front of them.

That influencer relations rose to the top of the survey points to the fact that we need more voices around our brands who are proselytizing the benefits, helping us with our messaging. Influencers are part-time staff extensions with great contacts. We need to get better at identifying and keeping them.

It is always heartening that research and analytics are a priority. It’s akin to asking about one’s favorite food and a large contingent answering “broccoli and Brussels Sprouts.” (You know it’s good for you.) Managing what we measure and then communicating those results upwards — and even sideways, to employees and other stakeholders — will also be essential for smart communicators.

Here are the top answers to the PR News survey question: "How would you spend an extra $250k in your budget?":

  • Staff
  • Influencer relations
  • Video content
  • Analytics platforms
  • Training
  • Community development
  • Research
  • Corporate identity
  • Guerrilla PR campaign
  • Brand ambassadors
  • Social media marketing
  • Big stunts
  • Team strategy meetings

What would you add to the list above? Please chime in.

The day that “big stunts” overtake “research” or “staff” as a priority will either mean gray skies ahead for PR or that we’ve finally got the team and resources to spend that extra dough on some extras.

-- Diane Schwartz

Let's connect on Twitter, too: @dianeschwartz