While overall advertising spend has continued to increase over the last quarter, public relations budgets have once again decreased, according to the latest IPA Bellwether report. Record sales promotion (offers and deals) investment has been attributed as the driving factor for the increase in total marketing budgets over the second quarter of 2023. This continues the trend of overall growth which began two years ago, however this has been led in the last quarter by huge amounts of sales promotions, with events and direct marketing also seeing increased spend. For PR departments, though, the cut to budgets was sharper than in the previous quarter (net balance of -1.9% from -0.6%).
In a tough economic environment, PR budgets are often the first on the chopping block, with senior business executives demanding proof of ROI for every pound spent. Those of us in the PR business know that proving our value is an age-old issue, as it can be tricky to show a dotted line between earned media, brand building and revenue.
Brands shouldn’t underestimate the power and impact of PR, though. A recent testimony to its effectiveness is wellness brand Lyma’s launch of its new luxury skincare line. Lucy Goff, who worked in fashion and luxury PR before founding the brand, told The Drum: ”PR is the most powerful form of marketing when it is done in a way where you are able to tell the full story.”
Goff used a mix of traditional and digital PR, placing articles about the brand in fashion publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar as well as in widely read tabloids The Daily Mail and The Mirror, all within 24 hours of the release. She describes how “telling a genuine story in a trusted media source by a trusted person” is her strategy, aiming to reach her target audience in an authentic way. As a result, Goff managed to entice a waiting list of 30,000 people for her skincare line in just hours of its launch. This is a shining example of what can be done with PR and earned media, particularly in a world full of sponsored ads.
Transforming the reputation of PR from champagne lunches to a powerful, business-critical function is one of the reasons why Antidote was created almost 10 years ago - and it still drives how we work today. Here, we don’t do PR for PRs sake - every campaign or project we deliver has a measurable objective that underpins it, meaning we can help our clients more easily justify the spend (and then some!).
While it may be less simple to prove ROI and track direct sales leads from PR, its impact can be even more powerful than more direct methods of marketing. With clear objectives and measurement metrics in place, PR can be used to build and maintain a brand, influence purchase decision-makers and drive demand, ultimately contributing to business success.