PR in a cost of living crisis? How to invest small and get a bigger return

It’s definitely been a year of two halves for the B2B world. In the first half, all the focus was on the war for talent and skills shortage crisis, with companies out for the most innovative ways to attract and retain the brightest sparks. The second half has put this juggernaut of business outreach into reverse, with the focus now pinned on tightening budgets, safeguarding talent and, fundamentally, recession-proofing.  This is where we currently stand. As Rishi Sunak returned last week from one event that is meant to be tackling the most important crisis of our times, the climate and our future, another one has been banging on the door back home for some time.  The UK is sinking into a recession; soaring inflation and a corrosive cost of living crisis seem to have no limit in their surging trajectories. It’s safe to say yesterday’s budget has been delivered for a fragile moment.  “Britain is in recession,” said the Chancellor, as he dubbed priorities for the budget as “stability, growth and public services”. The autumn statement has centred around a range of tax increases, from freezing personal tax allowance thresholds to significant windfall tax hikes. But this also means millions of people won’t feel that big an impact of wage rises, coinciding with the fact energy bill prices are set to increase in April and a record fall in living standards (unemployment is expected to go up by half a million). It’s hard to see whether priorities will be met. 

What does this all mean for business? 

The recession has again made the B2B world a delicate realm to enact strategy and decision-making. Do companies engage in more business and spend to counteract its impact? Or buckle up and tighten the purse strings until things look a bit rosier?  The Chancellor outlined his vision to turn the UK into the world’s next Silicon Valley and use “Brexit freedoms” to spur technological and business growth. But all signs currently point to the UK slipping down the pecking order of business investment and reputation. It’s the only G7 country whose economy is smaller than before Covid-19; London has been overtaken by Paris as Europe’s largest equity market, the first time since records began in 2003; and Matt Hancock is still in the jungle. You just couldn’t make it up. It’s easy to fall into a spiral of doom and gloom and it’s a fine line to tread. But history shows again and again that now is not the time to rest on your laurels. With such an array of downturn avenues, business leaders can be picky about resources they need and what to invest in. Having the means to still have a market presence, showcase an opinion and steal media mindshare can make all the difference. If you don’t, your competitors probably will.

Downscale to upscale? 

So how does this look in the B2B tech PR space?  This might just be the time that you consider downscaling for PR. Less might be more. For startups and scaleups, budgets are even tighter. But it’s possible to look for outsourced partners and PR agencies that can achieve the same output or more for less expense. It’s about prioritising results and a relationship over size and ‘reach’.  Timing is always of the essence. So it’s about finding an agency who understands who you are, can form a tailored strategy and optimise resources at the ideal moment. Time the right story at the right time, comment on the right opportunity at the right time, and you become a trusted ‘product’ or expert ‘voice’ of that sector. Believe it or not, you can do more with less.

Ways to optimise 

Rather than cutting PR, it’s about optimising processes and strategy, creating a sustainable model that reduces inefficiencies and can produce more for less.  Does your agency, for example,… 
  • Prioritise results 
If you’re paying by the hour, you’re more likely to be incurring greater costs for similar or less output. There’s also a pressure to deliver in the time spent working and less room for flexibility for projects that require different time commitments.  Having the ability to work with deliverables delivers what you want for a set price. It’s a more sustainable, efficient and cost-savvy way of working, and it can be adjusted according to budgets, staff fluctuations and business needs. 
  • Offer a wider scope of services
Another key aspect of providing more for less is offering a wider range of services. Does the agency, for example, offer to write award entries? Is there any media training for company spokespeople? Agencies can’t do everything, but having the offer to explore other PR approaches shows a willingness to deliver more and optimise PR’s value. 
  • Go beyond the norm
Do they reply within the hour? Do they show a passion for your brand and product? Above all else, if the agency genuinely cares about your business and what you want to achieve, they’ll be invested in your business results. It’s something that can’t be faked. In testing times, a fruitful relationship is a prized asset in achieving your goals.  The world of B2B and, indeed, society and life is undeniably dependent on tech. While the budget reflects the reality of inflation and the recession, tech’s value remains and will indisputably increase. For tech startups, scaleups and challenger brands, the gateway is there to place yourself on higher ground when the tides subside.  By finding the right tech PR agency and strategy, you can pay less, achieve more and reinvigorate your brand for ‘these times’.