Cost cutting is the primary concern of CMO’s during a downturn. They naturally begin with the frills while gradually working their way into more substantial overheads. While events, training programmes and travel are the low hanging fruit in cost cutting, advertising and PR are bound to follow suit in a bearish economy. We are probably facing one right now, where startups are beginning to see funds dry up in the market. Several prospective unicorn brands that I have been associated with in recent months, were forced to pull back on expenses.
However in this dreary environment, the question remains as to what elements should face the axe while ensuring that the equity of the brand is not impacted in the long run. This article analyses the importance of PR for startups and its importance during a down turn.
Startups and PR
It is no secret that the media is a bug support for startups and this phenomena in general. What this means is that large sections of valuable media real estate is being dedicated to this sector. One can see how unicorns like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal have built their brands predominantly through good PR. One is reminded of the dotcom boom back in the late 90’s when there was a similar frenzy in the media to feature anything that is home grown (Remember Microland and the visibility it enjoyed then). However this boom faced a natural death soon to be taken over by the IT and ITES phenomena for the next decade or so.
Going through these seasonal tectonic shifts in the media and their love for sunshine sectors, it is now the era of startups. It is now their turn to bask in the sunshine and take advantage of the momentum.
On facing a downturn
Point to note is that there is no guarantee that time and money will be saved in the long run only because you cut costs impulsively. Considering the euphoria for startups in the media it would be foolish to sacrifice the goose that is laying the golden egg.
It is widely acknowledged that PR is all about credibility and careful messaging. The resultant coverage is an outcome of a planned media outreach that has been whetted by layers of company spokespersons and management and the editorial team in the media. This goes to prove that this is a strategic tool that is a result of collaborative efforts by the company and the media in tandem. The results of well-planned campaigns are manifold and immensely beneficial for a brand in the long run.