ITL #566 PR budget: how should you spend yours for the best results?

4 months ago

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An adaptive and strategic approach to budgeting remains key to meeting objectives. By Tolulope Aribisala.



One of the primary inquiries we encounter from potential clients, particularly in the initial stages of engagement, is, “How much do you think we should spend?” It also comes up often with existing clients when planning for a major campaign, with the hopes of getting a clear figure as a response.

 

The response, more often than not, is, “It really depends,” a sentiment echoed by both myself and the CEO. The guiding principle for PR spend should stem from each client's specific objectives rather than being dictated by any presumed industry standard or the expenditure of other companies. The pivotal factors to consider are the unique goals and objectives of the client and the corresponding financial investment necessary to attain them.

 

In client interactions, the contact person is typically the PR Lead/Communications Manager/Head of PR & Communications, and so on. While it may be relatively straightforward to persuade this individual about the proposed PR spend, they might not be the ultimate decision-maker or the one approving the budget within their organization. Hence, it becomes crucial to incorporate elements such as content strategy, execution plans, influencer strategies, and meaningful brand and business goals into the proposal. This comprehensive approach facilitates the persuasion of key decision-makers at higher levels to comprehend and greenlight the budget.

 

Throughout the years, various trends have emerged in PR spending. However, what we contemplate as the future of PR budgeting raises an essential question: How should one allocate PR spend to yield optimal results? To address this, I've outlined some pertinent points that merit consideration by both PR agencies and brands:

 

  1. Boosting collaborations & partnerships

The potency of partnerships in PR is boundless. While the majority of client plans often emphasize prominent campaigns and significant ideas, we advocate incorporating partnerships as more than just an add-on. Building strategic relationships may require time and effort, but the dividends are substantial. Successful brand partnerships not only provide access to a broader audience but also contribute to heightened awareness, fostering product or service trial.

 

Increasingly, we are seeing that agencies and brands are gearing towards spending money on building key partnerships for visibility in Nigeria. Forget about the expenses that are associated with it – event setup, PR packages, travel etc. – the return on investment is significant.

2.Market research

In an era where data-driven decision-making is paramount, allocating a portion of your PR budget to robust market research can be a game-changer. Understanding your audience, market trends, and competitors ensures that your PR efforts are well-informed and targeted. It enables you to tailor your messaging to resonate with your audience effectively. In Nigeria, market research is very important because attitudes towards brands are motivated by the dynamic social and economic climate.

For a seasoned PR professional, you need a delicate balance that infuses data-driven insights for an authentic PR & communications strategy. I would ordinarily share some of the ways I think you can approach this whilst staying true to the brand’s identity:

  • Before immersing yourself in market research data, PR professionals should possess a thorough understanding of the brand's core values, goals, objectives, and target audience. This foundational knowledge ensures that any research conducted aligns seamlessly with the brand's essence.
  • While market data is a valuable resource, it should only function as a complementary, not a major tool in building communication strategies. PR professionals need to meticulously analyze and interpret the data, identifying trends that resonate with the brand's values and objectives. This approach ensures that market insights are thoughtfully incorporated into overarching communication plans.
  • Beyond mere numbers and statistics, resonating with audiences requires the inclusion of real stories and anecdotes. PR professionals should tap into the emotional facets of data, translating them into human stories. This approach fosters a more authentic connection with the target audience and goes beyond the quantitative aspects of market research.
  • Authentic communication is a reciprocal endeavor. PR professionals should actively listen to their client's audience, engage in meaningful conversations, and respond genuinely to feedback. This not only builds trust but also provides real-time insights that might elude conventional market research methods.
  • In cases where market research findings deviate from the authentic values of the brand, PR professionals should assist clients in addressing discrepancies transparently. Honest communication about challenges or areas of improvement contributes significantly to enhancing credibility and preserving authenticity. The key for PR professionals is to regard market research as a valuable tool within a comprehensive strategic framework.

 

By combining data-driven insights with a profound understanding of the brand and a commitment to authentic communication, PR professionals can adeptly guide their clients through the complexities of the evolving media and communications landscape, all while staying true to the core identities, values, and goals of the brands they represent.

 

  1. Is Artificial Intelligence going to take-off in Nigeria?

Last year, we witnessed the strong implementation of AI tools across several industries and PR was not excluded. Evidently, we’ve seen the impact of AI powered tools in helping to optimize various aspects of our work as PR professionals – from drafting content to media pitches and data analysis. But, in a country like Nigeria where digitization is only still increasing, it births the question of whether AI is a worthy investment for a PR agency or brand. In my opinion, I believe AI powered tools can improve efficiency and effectiveness and should be a bandwagon we should join sooner rather than later.

4. Event Sponsorships

Investing in event sponsorships remains a valuable avenue for PR budget allocation. Sponsorship of relevant events aligns your brand with the interests of your target audience, providing opportunities for direct engagement. This approach not only enhances brand visibility but also fosters a positive association with the event itself.


In conclusion, navigating the intricacies of PR budgeting demands a bespoke approach, one rooted in the unique goals and objectives of each client rather than conforming to purported industry norms. In embracing these considerations as I mentioned above, organizations can tailor their PR budgets to suit their specific objectives, ensuring a judicious allocation of resources and the realization of optimal results. As the landscape of public relations continues to evolve, an adaptive and strategic approach to budgeting remains key, promising enduring success and resonance in the dynamic realm of communication and brand building.

 

 


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The Author

Tolulope Aribisala

Tolulope Aribisala (Tolu) is the Managing Director at LSF PR, a leading public relations agency serving clients across Africa and the UK. She spearheads successful campaigns for clients in diverse sectors including financial services, technology, and consumer goods.

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