by | Aug 10, 2023

How PR Can Help You Navigate The Chill Of A Recession

By Xander Hall, Senior Account Executive 

1929. 2008. 2023. These dates were unified by their identity as the start of global recessions. Recession, defined as a period of economic decline, has left its mark throughout history – from the Great Depression in 1929, the financial crash of 2008, and most recently, the Coronavirus pandemic downturn.

Like being stranded in the cold and the ice, during these times, businesses typically resort to budget cuts as a survival tactic, choosing to cut off a frostbitten arm to save the body. This metaphorical arm is often the marketing and public relations departments. Unfortunately, this approach does little to escape the icy grip of economic downturns; in fact, having lost the arm, it is harder for the body to make its escape or kindle a fire for recovery. They are left amputated, shivering, hoping for the cold to pass while wondering if the sacrifices were too great to continue.

However, the Coronavirus recession brought about a pivotal moment. Some companies defied convention and exhibited true bravery by venturing into the cold, continuing to invest in their marketing and public relations efforts. Moving forward proves a lot better than standing still.

Surprisingly, these bold businesses reaped a series of positive consequences discovering that the right strategy and investment provides the warmth needed to brave the recessionary chill. Not only did this help them navigate the recession, but it propelled them ahead of their counterparts when the recessionary storm eventually subsided. In this blog, we’ll explore the unconventional approach of investing in PR in a downturn and uncover valuable lessons that can shape a resilient business model for the future.

In A Recession, Step One Is Safeguarding

The first battle of the chilling recession takes place in the mind. These economic downturns can affect the psychology of consumers. If a business is seen to be scaling down, uncertainty can trigger in prospective customers’ minds, and they can be flooded with the negative connotations associated with struggle and withdrawal. ‘If their product is so good, then why is the company doing poorly?’ consumers may think when making their own increasingly rare purchasing decisions. 

This is where PR can provide support. Correctly leveraging it can manage audience communications and strengthen brand reputation. PR becomes the bridge that connects businesses with their consumers during economic downturns and helps to soothe the mind. 

This is done through consistent and transparent messaging. During challenging times, it is crucial to establish trust and make investments in customer loyalty. By openly communicating their strategies and efforts to combat the business and customer pain points that arise from a financial downturn, they demonstrate honesty and accountability, resonating with the customers who seek the same. In these cold recessionary times, it is essential to huddle for warmth. 

hr tech dashboard on laptop

Going Beyond Exposure

In public relations, understanding that it goes beyond mere exposure is vital to thriving during harsh economic climates. By embracing a more meaningful approach to PR, businesses can devise strategies that help them survive and position them for success in the face of financial challenges. 

A relevant example of effective PR strategy during the pandemic comes interestingly from travel firms, one of the worst-hit industries. Instead of pursuing generic campaigns aimed at exposure, these providers adapted their approach to meet the specific needs of consumers amidst the crisis. Recognising the unprecedented circumstances, they filled the gap by creating inspirational content that resonated with their audience’s real-life situation. 

The fundamental principle here lies in crafting a bespoke PR strategy that is purposeful and focused on specific outcomes. This requires a deep understanding of the audience, their challenges, and aspirations. By acknowledging the unique circumstances of consumers and respecting their real-life situations, brands can forge a stronger connection with their audience, building trust and loyalty even during tough times. 

Capitalising On Media Opportunities

The landscape of a recession is frigid. This can leave many organisations frozen in place. When a recession occurs, the media landscape undergoes a significant shift that organisations must keep up with. By investing in PR, companies can leverage media exposure during these times to stay top-of-mind among target audiences and maintain a competitive edge even when things begin to thaw.

During a recession, the role media outlets have in influencing perceptions of organisations is heightened as consumer attention intensifies amidst economic downturns. To consumers, businesses operate as an indicator to whether the recession may improve. By securing media coverage and fostering partnerships, companies can ensure the ongoing visibility of their brand and bolster credibility despite recessionary conditions.

Touchdown PR has invested in establishing relationships with journalists and media outlets providing an easy to leverage touchpoint for organisations to share their stories. Within these challenging economic times, ensuring the visibility of an organisation can be challenging, but by entering a partnership with a specialist, navigation becomes that much easier.

Escaping To A Digital Landscape

During a recessionary period, consumers begin to withdraw from purchase decisions, and communication becomes scare. Conversation moves online, particularly during the purchasing process, becoming the main form of communication. As such, establishing an online presence using digital PR becomes essential to reach target audiences.

One of the most understated benefits of digital PR is its reactive nature. Whilst the economy gets cold and slows down, conversation heats up. Within fast-paced online environments, opportunities can rise and fall quickly so having a team of experts that can react quickly on your behalf is key. Through this online communication, organisations can utilise PR in a recession to showcase their resilience, empathy, and connect with their customers.

Establishing Leadership In A Dark Time

As the glacial nature of the recession begins to set in, having a leader becomes vastly important. In PR, this means establishing thought leadership. During a downturn, thought leadership can significantly bolster a business’s reputation as a trusted authority within its industry. By positioning the brand as an expert source of knowledge and insights, companies can build credibility and gain the trust of their audience. 

Thought leadership can be showcased through various formats that act as potent signifiers of the brand’s expertise: 

– Bylined articles
– Media interviews
– Expert commentary

This thought leadership adds substantial value to PR campaigns. It communicates that the brand goes beyond self-promotion and contributes valuable insights and perspectives to the industry and its customers. This approach fosters a deeper connection with the audience, building trust and loyalty even in challenging economic times. 

Touchdown PR recognises the significance of thought leadership and can help businesses effectively communicate their expertise. By strategically utilising media opportunities, guest contributions and industry collaborations, clients can solidify their position as authoritative sources on specific topics. 

Choosing The Right Tool For The Situation

Just as being stranded in the cold and the ice requires the right tools and strategies for survival, businesses facing a recession must embrace PR as their indispensable ally. PR becomes the warm fire that helps them navigate and weather the storm of an economic downturn. 

Incorporating PR into their marketing strategies allows businesses to stay top-of-mind among consumers and protect their brand reputation. Touchdown PR’s customised approach, industry expertise, and unwavering commitment to client success make them the essential gear needed to emerge stronger on the other side. 

By embracing tailored PR strategies, businesses build resilience, like a well-insulated coat shielding someone from the bite of the cold. With PR as a guiding compass, organisations can confidently face the challenges of a recession, knowing they have the support needed to endure and thrive through this financial winter. 

We’ve got a proven track record of helping businesses to overcome difficult times, but the PR strategy we devise for your business will serve you in the long term, too. Get in touch with Touchdown today to find out more.