Budgeting For 2020? Don’t Forget About PR

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It’s early 2020, and that means it’s time for businesses to evaluate their budgets for the year. From ad creative to salaries, businesses are planning expenses for the year so they can stay profitable. You likely have an idea of the campaigns you want to run and how you want to allocate budget dollars.

But many businesses fall into the trap of overextending resources to paid ad strategies and overlook public relations (PR). And when you forget to dedicate resources to PR, you can’t get results. Instead of pumping more resources into paid ads, budget with PR in mind first.

Paid Ads Aren’t Everything

Businesses are spending a ton of money on paid ads. According to recent data, in 2017, paid ad spending was over $10 billion, and retailers spent a whopping $23.5 billion in paid ads in 2018. It’s clear that more businesses are entering the paid ad arena, wishing for good traffic and high returns.

Paid ads should be in your strategy, but there also needs to be a combination of your brand talking about your brand and outside sources talking about your brand. Sure, PR needs a budget, but it isn’t nearly as money-hungry as Facebook Ads. Plus, PR is actually more effective than paid ads. According to a 2014 Nielsen study, PR is 88% more effective than paid ads when it comes to customer persuasion.

Instead of shoving your products down customers’ throats with paid ads, PR builds genuine interest in your brand. It’s about building real interest in your products and amplifying it with the right tactics.

Customers won’t trust you as much if they find you via paid ads, either. These ads are way too self-promotional, which many customers dislike.

PR Strategies To Invest In

2020 is the year to invest in PR. Earned media is the best way to engage with new customers en masse. But you have to dedicate your budget to the right PR strategies.

1. Word Of Mouth 

Did you know that customers pay twice as much attention to recommendations from friends and family than they do to advertising? Word of mouth is the most organic and effective way to promote your business. But few businesses use word-of-mouth PR because it seems difficult to implement.

Thankfully, 2020 has already created a healthy environment for PR. You have lots of options for word-of-mouth marketing, including:

• Influencers: Hire an influencer to gain immediate trust with a large, niche audience that’s primed to buy.

• Branded hashtags: This is a simple and free way to boost brand visibility online. Start a movement, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, to really turn heads.

• User-generated content: If your customers are talking about you, share that content! Share customer reviews, unboxings and more to build trust in your brand.

2. Customer Testimonials

Customer testimonials have a huge impact on your brand’s PR — and they’re free! If you need more customers to buy your products, customer testimonials can lead to a 380% increase in orders — plus, customers spend more on businesses that use customer testimonials.

Implement a customer experience program that includes email automation. This is cheap to set up and can help you collect customer feedback automatically. Share these testimonials on your site, social media and more to boost your brand without spending a fortune.

3. Editorial Media

It might sound intimidating, but getting featured in a news publication is a great way to boost your brand recognition. Whether it’s a local news story or a segment on Good Morning America, never underestimate the power of editorial media for your brand.

You’ll need to pitch journalists to do this, but a PR pro can help you score more features in no time. Just make sure your content is actually newsworthy. For more on this, I recently wrote about the art of pitching to extend your reach.

The Bottom Line

Customers typically trust earned media more than advertising. Word of mouth, customer testimonials and editorial media can have a greater impact on your customers than paid ads. Plus, these tactics preserve more of your budget for better results. It costs some money to do PR, but you can’t beat the trust it builds with new customers. Come to the budget meeting ready to fight for PR!

[“source=forbes”]