All I Want for Christmas is a PR Budget

By Stephanie Niblack, Account Director, McKeeman PR

“I really think we deserve it,” I said to Santa. “We’ve been very good this year.” Santa’s eyes twinkled as he asked about the increase over last year. “After all,” he said, “you don’t have a crisis or a customer complaint threatening legal action, viral marketing retribution or mass media involvement. Can’t you just enjoy the little PR budget you get every year?”

For the Santa Clients, opening that bag of budget goodies is tough! There are a lot of people who have been good this year, and some who are needier than others when doling out the line items. It’s important that the widget supplier and the IRS are first stops on Santa’s flight. For the Virginias of PR (“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!”) who believe in their clients and spread the magic of Santa Clients all year, we dream of a special budget in a big red bow. That budget would create a program to melt the heart of any editor, build trust among consumers and break through the clutter of social media mania.

So whether you are Santa (the Client) looking at your list or a Virginia of PR (believer in all things Santa and a devoted Macy’s customer) writing your letter, here three things to consider as you build your PR budget:

1. Success

  • Set specific goals to define success with your budget. Is success media coverage, impressions or research findings showing higher levels of trust in your company or product?
  • Keep in mind that some things are harder to put a price tag on so discuss the value of a front page newspaper article vs. one new faithful customer. The budget may look different to achieve media coverage than to create loyal customers.

2. Measurement

  • It’s critical in business to show a return on investment. Consider how you want to see this return from your budget (media values for coverage received, increase in sales based on tactics, etc.).
  • Remember that PR is not a commodity so the cost of goods will vary based on the level of service and expertise you purchase or sell. Evaluate the results you achieve based on your success measures and the value you place on your service offering. Working with a PR consultant for 15 years may offer a higher level of value because the consultant knows your business and guides you with more customized expertise.

3.     Put it in context

  • What is the overall budget and what percentage is PR? Public relations should make the ground more fertile for other messages, so there should be integration of PR and marketing budgets to achieve results. A $5 million budget for advertising with a $5,000 PR budget may not be enough to balance the integration of messages.

Happy budget season to all of you!



That’s the holiday spirit! Are we too old to sit on Santa’s lap and make this our wish? Malls nationwide, beware!!!! 🙂


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