5 Reasons To Double Down On PR During a Downturn


By Maggie Zeman

Each time the US heads into an economic downturn the outcome can seem predestined: A self-fulfilling prophecy willed upon us by a 24/7 news cycle and boosted by social media. As stormy financial clouds seemingly approach, companies tend to panic by cutting operating costs, and often, PR and marketing budgets are among the first to go.

As it turns out, this is precisely the time when brands should invest in PR, even as predictions for a recession build. In their findings from its 2023 Marketing Outlook Survey released today, Scott Signore, Principal and CEO of Matter, an integrated PR and marketing agency in Boston, MA says, “marketers understand that while cutting marketing and advertising budgets during economic uncertainties may bring temporary financial relief, it often leads to significant long-term strain on sales pipelines, brand awareness and customer trust.”

At Double Forte we know it’s during a downturn that businesses must double down on communication so their brands are poised to take advantage of the upturn. In fact, turning off PR and marketing is the fastest way to disconnect yourself from your consumers, making it difficult to retain your customer base, so that it dwindles and then they are at a bigger deficit once the economy bounces back.

Cutting PR also means you’re turning your back on reputation management leaving yourself vulnerable during a tumultuous time. As you plan for 2023, we’re sharing our top 5 reasons why you should double down PR strategies during a recession.

  • Keeps You Connected To Your Target Consumer: The last thing you want to do is stop connecting with your customers. Maintaining an ongoing PR strategy keeps your brand top of mind with influencers on social media as well as the media, and lets you leverage important product news consistently to your audiences. What’s more, it’s an opportunity to reach out to your customers with a unique offering or discount that lets them know you understand what they’re going through. Giving back to your customers during tough times goes a long way in building customer retention. A good example of this is when Hyundai offered financial relief to customers who lost jobs during Covid-19.
  • Demonstrates Subject Matter Expertise Via Thought Leadership: Consumers trust companies that communicate important corporate initiatives such as a dedication to sustainability or support for community programs that help consumers thrive. A strategic communications plan enables your C-Suite executives to drive company and brand messages while engaging with the trade and business audiences through conversations with the media, speaking opportunities or by-lined articles.
  • It’s Your Third-Party Endorsement: PR professionals keep your media engines running during a recession, ensuring product reviews and roundups as well as company feature stories continue building momentum for your brands. They also keep key media relationships in place. Freelancers and editors move constantly. Putting a pause on media relations not only puts your products out of sight and out of mind with the press, but once you’re ready to start back up, you’ll be building your media list from scratch.
  • Grows Your Content On Owned Channels: PR isn’t just about media relations. Maintaining your owned channels such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and your website and podcast keep you relevant and in front of the audiences that matter most to your company. Creating content from Corporate Sustainability Reports to Brand Influencer campaigns and even press releases with amplification via owned channels will build your brand and tell your story.
  • Builds Company Momentum Inhouse: Internal communications is as important as ever during a recession. When your PR strategy includes internal communications, you’re keeping your finger on the pulse of employee sentiment while demonstrating to teams the company and brands are strong and able to weather a financial downturn. This goes a long way in creating positive work environments as well as employee retention. Managing your company culture and sharing wins with internal audiences is as important as managing your reputation externally.

Bottom line, cutting PR during an economic downturn does not make strategic nor financial sense for brands and companies. A communications strategy will help keep you in front of your key audiences as well as your competition while demonstrating leadership and strength to your industry partners and employees.