When it comes to determining a communications budget, the truth is, there are no hard and fast rules that fit every business – or even a single business at every stage. USA Today reports that most established businesses spend from one to 15 percent of their entire operating budget on their annual marketing. Which means a million-dollar company might spend anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000 a year. A huge range that doesn’t make it any easier to determine what works for an individual business, does it?
The work doesn’t end with identifying a dollar amount, either. The next step is figuring out how to divvy it up for the best return on your investment. Of course you want to position yourself as an expert and a local industry leader. You should have a crisis plan. You understand the importance of earned media for your brand and you want to create opportunities to get it. And then there’s digital marketing. Do you need to spend your resources on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram? Do you need video? How is your SEO?
The good news is, you don’t have to shoot blindly – and in fact, you really shouldn’t. While it may be tempting to try to do it all in-house, navigating the learning curve not only costs you time and money, but it can also damage the brand you are working so hard to build.
Instead, you can determine your PR needs and budget by identifying your goals. When we discuss a new communications strategy with our clients, our very first question is what they hope to accomplish. Here are the most common responses:
By singling out what’s most important to the company at that moment, we can suggest the best ways to allocate their resources. For example, if a company’s primary goal is recruitment, we might suggest a video, such as this one we produced for Big Brothers and Big Sisters in honor of an Omaha woman winning National Big Sister of the Year. The organization now uses it frequently to encourage new volunteers. To create exposure for a company and position them as industry experts, we may launch a public education campaign, along the lines of the ones we develop with Home Instead Senior Care several times each year.
Your goals also determine whether you should consider doing PR on a project or retainer basis. Companies that wish to create publicity materials, like a video or a brochure, or redesign their website often opt to work with us on a per-project basis. Those looking for a more consistent, comprehensive strategy (perhaps involving newsletters, social media posts or regular media outreach) usually choose to engage our services on a retainer basis.
Whatever your unique needs are, designating a certain amount of money for PR and knowing exactly how you plan to spend it puts you in a stronger position to take advantage of opportunities that arise throughout the year, and gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you are telling your brand’s story exactly the way you want it to be told.