Public Relations Pros Adapt in a Soft Economy


By Jennifer Evans

I live and work in Houston, Texas. Houston is known for many things, but the oil & gas industry remains a driving business here. Consequently, we see indicators of economic dips due to oil prices before other U.S. markets. While I don’t want to discourage anyone unduly, we are seeing some of those signs in the U.S. and in Texas right now. Public Relations practitioners – internal as well as agency leaders – should pay attention and prepare to help clients/employers adapt. After all, part of the job is therapy, right? Here are a few handy tips to help you help your clients.

1)      Be prepared to have the conversation – Expect your client to raise the subject of budget reduction at some point this year. Don’t be offended. Great people and teams lose their jobs every day. Put on your game face, your big girl or boy pants and have suggestions ready.

2)      Evaluate the budget – Examine the client’s budget with them and make recommendations of small or large items that can be postponed or eliminated. This is a great time to consider shifting from a print newsletter to an e-news format, for example. Zoetica Media’s Kami Huyse offers some excellent tips to measure social media efforts. What needs to change?

3)      Invest in new, modest pursuits – Instinct may initially drive you to cut the new, cool stuff. DON’T. Find a way to help your client try some of those new things. Here’s an excellent read in PR Daily on new trends – give you any ideas?

4)      Put the microscope on events – Social events are necessary for business development, and fundraisers are necessary for non-profits. That said, this is an excellent time to look at ROI on these events and make tweaks. Help your client do a reboot of a renewing event by making the calls to action tighter and the budget leaner. Adjust the timing. Check out Katie Delahaye Paine’s blog for some excellent case studies.

5)      Staff smart(er) – OK, this is sensitive territory. Is there a staff adjustment from your own support package or from the client’s team that should be made? If you are billing your client every month for personnel, you owe it to yourself and your client to evaluate. If the client has a mandate to cut from their own staff resources, help them manage the pain and make the best decision.

6)      No free lunch – One of my clients held a recurring weekly meeting as a brown-bag lunch for almost a year – and no one complained. Help your client eliminate schmooze costs from the budget. Lunch for 10 people at $10 each once a week = $5,200 annually. That’s money any business can repurpose. Since we’re still talking about New Year’s resolutions, it’s an excellent time to change the meeting time and offer some budget-friendly, healthy snacks and water.

Be the chameleon now, and avoid pain later!

Jennifer Evans owns a Public Relations agency in Houston, Texas. She can be found at, @jlevans on Twitter and jenniferlevanspr on LinkedIn.


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