Nobody finds budget planning fun, especially when your resources have been cut, and the pressure to do more with less is piling on. In this article, we share how a well-planned budget will give you a higher return on investment and how you can make significant savings in the first place.
How to create a PR budget
If you’re thinking about your budget, you probably already know what you want to achieve. If not, it is time to nail down your goals.
Need more help defining your PR goals and developing your PR strategy? You’re in luck. Check out our latest guide to creating a PR strategy.
Involve the whole team
Surprises can be fun, but not when it comes to budgeting. Ensure you know the key milestones that your team is planning to achieve during your budget cycle. How many product releases will there be? Will they benefit from a launch party or a media campaign? The more you know, the better you can allocate your budget.
Allocate your PR budget
You know what you want to achieve. The next step is to assign a budget to your planned activity.
You may have a set budget to work from, and while that might feel limiting, it can make your planning phase easier.
For those of you completely in the dark about how much to spend on PR, you have two options.
1. Use your previous PR spending to define your baseline
In the first scenario, you can use your previous budgets as your spending baseline. Even if your allocated budget has radically changed, you will know how much your PR activities usually cost. Calculate your return on investment (ROI) for each tactic to decide which areas require more or less budget this time round.
2. Use a short iterative cycle to define your baseline
The second scenario is that you are starting from scratch. In this case, you have less to guide your forecasting, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait a year or even a quarter to establish your baseline. Plan and execute PR activity for the immediate future, then assess your results as you go. Your goal should be to understand how much your planned activities cost on average to ensure the best possible ROI now and in the long run. Each budget cycle is an opportunity to gather and analyze data to improve your ROI and stretch your PR budget a little further.
Maximizing your PR budget and saving costs
Use the right tools
You deserve more than an overflowing inbox to get your job done. The right software can transform how you work. From improving internal communications to tracking which journalists have read your lovingly crafted pitch, we’ve published a guide to help you get more done for less.
Nothing is sponsored or sleazy about our guide. We simply think everyone deserves to know about the great tools we use and love.
Read the Ultimate Guide to PR and communications tools for 2023
Train your team
It can be hard to keep up with the pace of the PR industry. But training is often overpriced, overly theoretical, and excessively complicated. And, at pr.co, we are over it.
That’s why we’ve created the most affordable, accessible PR training out there. We designed Pioneer Academy for people who care about results. It is a subscription-based online and on-demand PR and communications training provider.
It will give you (and your team) everything you need to take control of your professional development.
Embrace digital PR
Digital communications is not just for marketers. From social media giveaways to podcasts and influencer partnerships, digital channels provide limitless cost-effective opportunities to shape the public's perception of your brand.
If you rely on traditional PR alone, it's time to diversify. Even if you secure the coverage of your dreams, if your audience can't access your story digitally, you will limit your potential growth.
Use employee advocacy
Your employees allow your audiences to connect with the humans behind the brand. From Steve Jobs to Kylie Jenner, we are hard-wired to build relationships with other people, whether those relationships are one-sided or not. That is what makes employee advocacy so powerful.
So, ensure you support your employees and colleagues to develop their personal brands. Not only will this stand them in good stead for the future, but it will also increase your message's reach.
Focus on your relationships
It is called public relations for a reason — your relationship with journalists hugely influences your success in PR. Having a few journalists on your side can go a long way in maximizing your PR budget.
It’s incredible how far the average person will go for a contact they genuinely like and enjoy working with. Check-in on journalists you haven’t contacted for a while, even when you don't want something from them. It pays to let journalists know that you haven’t forgotten them. If you have the means, invite them for a coffee to catch up on life and work so that you know exactly how to personalize your next pitch to them.
Use Kaizen budgeting for PR
Kaizen budgeting is a technique that focuses on continuous improvement to reduce costs over time. Unlike traditional budgeting methods that lock in fixed allocations, kaizen budgeting embraces a flexible and iterative approach.
Adopting the Kaizen budgeting philosophy will encourage you to constantly evaluate and optimize your PR strategy and budget, allocating resources based on real-time performance and evolving priorities. You can maximize your PR budget's potential by regularly reviewing and fine-tuning your PR activities and reallocating your resources to the tactics that produce the most results.
While Kaizen budgeting usually promotes short budget cycles, you must remember that PR is a long game. You may need to give your tactics time to prove their worth, particularly when building organic audiences on your owned channels.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to saving money, but a well-structured and regularly analyzed budget is the next best thing. By committing to a philosophy of continual improvement and equipping yourself with the skills you need to nail every tactic, your budget can become the roadmap to your success.