In this episode, Axia Public Relations’ Jason Mudd goes into depth about how to save money in the long run with a firm, budget your money depending on your needs, make crisis management cheaper, and increase your budget for PR. He even lists numerous resources that can help you save money on your PR.
Tune into this episode to learn more ways to save money in PR.
Watch the episode here
5 things you’ll learn during the full episode:
- The pros of bundling PR services
- Long-term ways you can save money with your PR agency
- How to determine whether it’s smart to invest in PR software
- How to make crisis management affordable
- How to cut your advertising budget to increase your PR budget
- Listen to more episodes of the On Top of PR podcast
- Find out more about Axia Public Relations
- You can find Jason Mudd on Twitter.
- Connect and learn more about Jason Mudd on LinkedIn.
- Additional Resources
- Additional Resources from Axia Public Relations:
- Axia's CrisisPoint crisis communications management services
- 3 crisis communication action steps to take
- Can your insurance cover the costs of hiring crisis public relations?
- "Managing Public Relations in a Crisis” e-book
- "Managing your Business in a Crisis” webinar
- The importance of cybersecurity and crisis communications with Bryce Austin
- Effective crisis communications with Christopher Britton
- Why billing by the hour might be unethical
- The right way to measure PR webinar
- What companies spend on PR
- What is news? 10 elements of news and newsworthiness
[01:56] 1. Look for prepayment opportunities
- Some PR firms will give you a discount for prepaying.
Jason: “It’s a great conversation for you to have with your PR agency.”
[03:47] 2. Take advantage of referrals
- Every PR agency would love for you to give them a referral.
- Some agencies, like Axia, give you discounts for referring them!
[04:41] 3. Bundling services
- The more work we can do for you, the more services you can get for your investment.
Jason: “If you’re only engaging a PR firm this much – just a tiny bit of services – then you’re probably going to be paying a premium, but if you can bundle more services and give that PR firm more scope or more work or more projects, you should, in turn, start to see a little bit more money back to you.”
[05:39] 4. Sign a long-term agreement
- The longer term agreement you sign, the more scale, leverage, and financial consideration you should expect and receive.
[07:35] 5. Shifting duties away from your staff
- Experts in PR can do things quicker and cheaper, whether those experts are in-house or outsourced.
Jason: “There’s a CEO that I know well from a medical company, and she started out in broadcast journalism and she got into public relations and eventually worked her way to the top to be in a CEO role for this medical company. She told me something that stuck with me for years. She said that, ‘The one thing that I learned about my experience doing PR is that you’re much better off using a PR agency who is going to the media or is going to external audiences, going to the public, going to thought leaders, going to content creators and influencers regarding multiple brands at one time, representing multiple brands, multiple companies at one time.’”
[10:23] 6 and 7. Think about PR software
- Don’t just go out and buy PR software if you don’t have anyone to operate it.
- Think about service bureaus and PR software before you buy.
- Depend on your PR agency to use PR software to save money.
[13:47] 8: Use your PR firm’s press release wire service
- Your PR agency is probably getting better prices than you can.
[16:11] 9: Crisis management is highly expensive
- Preparing for crisis management can help you save money when dealing with a crisis.
Jason: “Research shows that for every dollar you spend on crisis planning and preparation – crisis communications being a part of that – for every dollar you spend proactively, you save $7 for when a real crisis happens.”
[19:01] 10: Measure what works, and cut what doesn’t
- PR is measurable!
- A good way to determine what you can save money on or what you can spend new dollars on
[20:11] 11: Find out what your peers’ companies are paying
- Everyone does PR differently – some spend a lot, and some don’t spend at all.
- The largest are spending 1% of 1% of their revenue on PR, and start ups are spending 1% to 10% of their revenue.
- Ask them what they’re spending and what results they’re seeing from it.
[22:55] 12: Be mindful that the best PR results come over time
- Shotgunning PR for 3-6 months out of the year doesn’t give you the best results.
- Our longest clients, 3-10 years, see the best results.
Jason: “PR is a long game. It’s not instant or overnight. It’s not a shotgun effect. It’s not like advertising where it's a flash and a pan and then it’s gone. The best PR is slow and steady and builds over time because trust builds overtime.”
[25:37] 13: Partner with a PR firm that knows you
- Look for a PR partner that will know you, and give them a chance to get to know you.
Jason: “Finding the right PR partner takes time.”
[26:53] 14: Cut advertising
- Most brands have a large advertising budget and a small PR budget.
- Research shows that advertising isn’t as effective as it used to be.
- Don’t use an ad agency to do your PR – leave that to the PR experts.
Jason: “PR helps you be a part of the content and a part of the conversation, not a sponsor of the conversation.”
About Jason Mudd
On Top of PR host Jason Mudd is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.
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- Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.
- Hello, and welcome to On Top of PR. I'm your host, Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations. Today, we're doing a solocast. A solocast we do every fifth episode where it's just you and I. We're talking about an issue, topic, or trend that I think is important to you, our audience, and so that I can help you stay on top of PR. Today, we're talking about 14 ways to save money with a PR firm or save money with a PR agency. My rationale for this conversation today is there's some headlines that are showing high inflation, high demand for services and products, and a low supply chain of labor, low supply chain of materials, and supplies. And I know you're feeling it – I'm feeling it too as a business owner. And so, I just want to spend some time talking to you a little bit about 14 ways to save money with a PR firm or a PR agency. Because with all these things happening, every dollar, as always, is critical – and even more critical than normal. I think we're headed into some difficult economic seasons. I don't think this will be a long-lasting economic decline, but I think we're all going to feel a little bit of pain. And so I'm doing this topic today, 14 ways to save money with a PR agency. Then I'm going to do a topic about why you shouldn't pause your PR efforts during a bad economic climate. And so, I'm doing this in a series to kind of help you and guide you through the storm and be here as your strategic partner and your friend in the business. So with that, let's get into this episode.
So 14 ways to save money with a PR firm. The first one I'm going to recommend is look for prepayment opportunities. A lot of PR firms – some PR firms will give you a prepayment discount. Not necessarily for prepaying monthly, because most PR agencies I know expect you to prepay monthly, but maybe you've got some extra cash and you'd like to leverage that cash in exchange for a discount. At Axia, for example, we offer a prepayment discount if you prepay quarterly and an even bigger prepayment discount if you prepay annually. Many of our clients take advantage of that, and I'm sure your PR agency, whether you use us or someone else, would be glad to explore that conversation with you. I think you just have to be looking for some kind of volume prepayment to get some sort of consideration of a discount. So, like I said, maybe you have a conversation with your PR firm and ask them, "Hey, how much could I save on this if I prepaid for a year or if I prepaid three months at a time?"
The key part you have to keep in mind is it's genuinely prepayment. It's not prepay for three months 15 days into the first month. It's genuinely and authentically prepaying some lump sum of money into the agency, which will help them better manage your account, better manage their cash flow as well. And they may appreciate having some of that money upfront to help them balance their budget and pay their bills. And maybe they can even, as we do, then, in turn, go after volume our pricing discounts by prepaying. So, most of our software providers, most of our service bureaus – we're looking for opportunities to prepay them for a year or for multiple months ahead of time so we might leverage more favorable pricing, too. In turn, if your PR agency is able to leverage that, they can offer you discounts as well. So, that's a great conversation for you to have with your PR agency.
The second thing I would think about is taking advantage of referrals. Your PR agency would love your referrals. You know friends, family, peers in the industry or in business, or maybe in your neighborhood, maybe at an association you belong to or the rotary club or some other service organization you're part of. Maybe they're looking for a PR firm or maybe they would benefit from working with your PR firm. They would appreciate your referral as would the PR agency. And so some PR agencies, and for example, ours, we offer a referral discount as well. So if you refer a client to us, we are definitely not only going to send you a small gift or token of our appreciation for the referral, but once that company becomes a client, we're also going to apply a credit to your account to save you money and to ultimately incentivize you and say, "Thank you for sending us that referral." And I trust that other PR firms would also do that or want to also do that for you.
The other thing is just bundling services. So, bundling services means the more services you get from your PR firm, the more scale you should get for that scope. And the more scale you should receive in return for that investment. I was just on a call a few minutes ago with a company that wants to do business with us and I was explaining to them, "The more work we do for you, it will be a larger sum investment, but that investment will offer you the scale of getting more services." So if you're only engaging a PR firm for this much, just a tiny bit of services, then you're probably going to be paying a premium. But if you can bundle more services and give that PR firm more scope or more work or more projects, you should, in turn, start to see a little bit more money back to you for cost savings for that scope of work. So, I would always be thinking about bundling services and how might you save money by doing so.
The other option that I think is important for you to think about, No. 4, is sign a long-term agreement. So the longer term agreement you sign, the more scale, the more leverage, the more financial consideration you should expect and the PR agency should give. So, if you're working with a PR agency on a project-by-project-by-project-by-project basis, and they may be willing to work with you on an hourly basis. So they do the work, they charge you whatever hours it takes, and they send you a bill – maybe there's a better way to do it. Personally, at Axia, we don't do hourly arrangements. We don't think that's in your best interest or in ours. We think it's unethical to bill by the hour, as opposed to just working hard to get the results quickly and charging the flat rate no matter how long it takes for us to do that. In the episode notes, we'll put a link to our argument, whether or not hourly billing is ethical or not. And that's something you might explore and consider in your PR firm and PR agency relationship. For us, we sense that you should be looking for quick results and we should get paid for those results. And if something takes us a long time to do, you shouldn't be penalized and if we can do something very quickly, we should not be penalized. That's kind of just a unique philosophy or different point of view that we share at our agency, a little bit different than other agencies. But we just think it's unethical to bill hourly, so we really try to stay away from that. Check out that article, if this is interesting to you, we'll put it in the episode notes about hourly billing and why we avoid it. But ultimately, for step No. 4, sign a long-term agreement if you're looking for a discount. Don't expect a discount from a short-term arrangement or a short-term project. We define a project as having a clear start date and a clear end date. And we define programs or ongoing engagements with our PRs as having a clear start date but a long-term, undetermined end date of which we're just continuing the same scope of work. And we're producing the same level of production on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
Step No. 5 of ways that you can save money with your PR firm is going to be shifting duties away from your staff. So there's a lot of things I think a PR agency can do better, faster, and cheaper – better, quicker, and cheaper – than your in-house staff can. We are in the business of hiring experts, and we find a lot of times our clients are in the business of hiring generalists, or maybe they're supporting, internally, they're providing marketing and PR support for a particular brand. And so your marketing team might be split up into the different brands or divisions or business units within your organization. And so you can't expect those people to be experts in certain aspects of PR, nor can you expect to bring in one in-house person to be an expert in multiple brands and divisions and products and service lines within your organization. You really want to be hiring experts, whether those are in-house or outsourced. And so, there's a lot of things that your internal team is being asked to do that, again, probably an outside PR agency can do better, quicker, and cheaper for you. And I think that's the good way to look at it is: What kind of things are we doing in-house that could be better … done by a PR agency? There's a CEO I met, or I know well, from a medical group, a medical company. And she started out in broadcast journalism then she got into public relations and eventually worked her way to the top to be in a CEO role for this medical company. And she told me something that stuck with me for years. She said: "The one thing I learned about my experience doing PR, is that you're much better off using a PR agency who is going to the media or going to external audiences, going to the public, going to thought leaders, going to content creators and influencers, regarding multiple brands at one time. Representing multiple brands, multiple companies at one time." So what they have is they have a volume of opportunities and options. They have the clout of multiple brands that they're bringing. And so, we as PR pros on the agency side, we have good reason to stay in touch with our contacts in the industry, our contacts in the media. About multiple companies and brands all at one time versus, she was saying: "Look, I'm just one brand. I'm just one company. I've got so much going on. I don't always have a story to stay interesting and relevant to my industry and media contacts, but my PR agency does, and my PR agency can stay in front of them about multiple topics, multiple times. And then is getting a larger mind share and larger attention from those influential contacts that I just don't have on a regular basis." So, I think that's a really important element to consider when you're thinking about shifting duties away from your staff.
Speaking of resources, such as your staff and their capabilities. I also find that sometimes clients or brands make the mistake of not sharing service bureaus or having software and duplicate software. And so, this is kind of Tips Six and Seven combined into one. But really, I've had companies come to me and say, "Well, we just signed a contract with Cision for PR Newswire or for their contact database," or something like that. And a lot of times, that's a good intention. Like: "Hey, we want to start doing PR. We want to start being more intentional about PR. Let's go buy X or Y or Z software or X or Y or Z service bureau to help us with that." But at the end of the day, there's no technician. There's no artist. There's no professional. There's no operator of that software in place yet. And that's a big mistake I think companies make. It's a little bit of an unsophisticated mistake, but it happens in that you have the best of intentions. You're like: "We're going to start taking PR seriously in this new quarter. So let's go buy the systems and tools and processes we need to make this happen," but then you look around and go: "OK, well, who's going to own it? Who's going to do the work?" Our agency is HubSpot Partners, HubSpot Marketing Partners. And so we use HubSpot to create a lot of content campaigns and marketing automation on behalf of our clients. And I had a client of mine ask me, "Well, what's the value of HubSpot?" And I said: "Well, that's hard to measure. What's the value of Microsoft Office or Google Workspace?" And he said: "Well, it's very helpful. It helps my team prepare and do things and be more efficient." And I said: "Well, compared to what? Compared to using a typewriter? Or what?" But if you just bought the Microsoft Office Suite or Google Workspace Suite and you had no one operating it, then it's kind of worthless, right? Same with a tool of any kind. You could buy a drill or hammer, but if you never use it, what was it really worth to you? The answer is nothing. But if you use it regularly and it saves you time and money and gets your jobs done better, then it's worth its weight in gold. So, as you think about service bureaus and you think about PR software, definitely do that.
So, back to service bureaus, a lot of companies are buying media monitoring, clipping, and measurement solutions. They're buying media databases, they're buying media intelligence, they're buying all kinds of … service bureau-type things. But the truth is, their PR agency, our PR agency is already buying and using those things, and we're getting volume pricing there. So why not cut those things and just depend on us, your PR agency, to provide you with those things? I think you can save a lot of money there. And so, I've seen that happen where people are like: "Oh, I bought a package of PRWeb, or I bought a package of PR Newswire. We now have 20 news releases that we can put on the wire in the next year," or whatever it might be. And then they realize: "Well, wait, who's going to write those? Who's going to come up with these ideas? Who's going to get them approved? Who knows how to write in Associated Press style? Who knows how to write an inverted pyramid? Who's going to copy edit these things? Who's going to do more than just post it on a newswire? Who's actually going to pick up the phone and do the pitching or have the email database or buy the email database to be able to send this out to influential industry and media contacts?" So I would say just slow down on those types of things if you don't already have them. If you do already have them, does it make sense to discontinue it and let your PR agency provide that for you? Because like I said, we do that currently.
And again, Step Eight is to use your PR firm's press release wire service. So they're commercial news wire service, like Business Wire – which I personally think is the best one out there – PR Newswire, which is a little bit more well known. There's also GlobeNewswire and a whole bunch of other ones. There's PRWeb and some free ones. And just ones that I really wouldn't waste my time with. But at the end of the day, these do exist. And your PR firm is probably getting the best volume discount pricing than what your individual brand will get by itself. And so I would look to your PR agency to help you purchase these or bundle them into their existing package. We have a couple of insurtech companies that we work with and other tech companies we work with. And they always seem to be buying these at the end of the quarter or the end of the year because they think they're getting a great deal, but then we're able to quickly remind them that: "Hey, we get that same deal or better. And/or it's bundled into the package that you get from us." So, work smarter, not harder. You don't have to figure out all of these things, but I think that's really important that you are considering it. So that's Tips 1-8 of how to save money with your PR agency. I'm going to take a quick break and come back on the other side with the remaining ones.
- [Announcer] You're listening to On Top of PR with your host, Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted adviser to some of America's most admired and fastest growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social, and web strategies for national companies. And now back to the show.
- Welcome back to On Top of PR, I'm your host, Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations. Today, we're talking about the 14 ways to save money with your PR agency. And this is inspired by and given the economic climate that we're headed into and the one we've been dealing with for the last few years where, honestly – candidly – demand for PR firms has been at an all-time high in my experience. And every PR firm I know is just struggling to maintain the book of business they already have that keeps the clients they have happy. And in the meantime, fighting for talent just as much as you are. But yet, we're hearing some talk about impending recession and continued inflation-pricing increase, and many other factors coming into the lack of supply of employees and materials and whatnot. So, just trying to help you kind of rethink a little bit about how you're using your current PR agency. And hopefully this is very valuable to you. In fact, if you're enjoying this episode, do me a favor and pause it and be sure to share it with a colleague or friend who you also think would benefit from this episode.
We talked about the top eight ways that you could save money with a PR agency. I want to talk to you about the remaining ways now. And one of those is, remember, crisis management is really expensive. So, if you want a way to save money with your PR agency, I would start thinking about the cost of crisis management. I would start figuring out a way – what would it cost to have your PR agency be not only prepared to be on call, but to be on call and to have written a plan and a crisis plan with you? And even rehearsed some of those plans and practiced implementing some of those plans before there is a real crisis. I'll include a link to a blog post we wrote about this topic broadly in the episode notes, but what I'm really trying to say, the point I'm trying to make here is that research shows that for every dollar you spend on crisis planning and preparation, crisis communications being part of that, for every dollar you spend proactively, you'll save $7 when a real crisis happens. I can't tell you how many times I've had companies call me in the middle of a crisis situation. They don't have time to negotiate. They don't have time for us to prepare a proposal. They don't have time to entertain a proposal. They need crisis support now and they need it in real time, and candidly, they needed it yesterday. So, maybe one way you can save money with a PR agency is start having conversations about crisis communications management and preparation and do so now so that you can save $6. Because like I said, for every dollar you spend on crisis planning, research shows you save $7 during a real crisis. Research also shows that 40% of businesses do not recover from a crisis. They're going to go out of business. And so, while 40% doesn't sound like a majority, that's a pretty significant number. And so by coming up with a crisis plan ahead of time, you can avoid that pitfall and your company can be in a better position. So, it probably doesn't cost much to bundle on crisis communications to your existing package with your PR agency. And so that's an option. If you don't have a PR agency, maybe you should go ahead and get one retained in some capacity to be available to you on call when there is a crisis. And hire them to prepare a first-class, professional crisis communications plan and revisit it with them on a quarterly or annual basis to make sure that that's running smooth and ready. In the episode notes, we'll put a link to our crisis communication service, where we have a lot of valuable information like a webinar, e-book, case studies, and some other articles and blog posts we've written about crisis management. And the event you want to do it yourself, we've even had a few episodes On Top of PR where we talk about crisis communications and even cybersecurity incidents. And we'll put a link to that in the episode notes to help you prepare for those as well. So that was Step No. 9.
Step No. 10 about how to save money with your PR firm I would say is going to be measure what works, and cut what doesn't. And measuring PR is not impossible because, yes, PR is measurable, but it takes time and attention and intention to really do it and do it well. I find that a lot of brands want to talk about measuring PR, but they're never as serious as they need to be about it. And as soon as you start talking about the added cost of being able to measure PR, it turns a lot of people off. But if you're going to measure, it's going to take a dedicated budget, it's going to take dedicated intentions, it's going to take access to do it well and do it right. So, yes, PR is measurable. Yes, you should be measuring it. And as you start measuring it, if you give it enough time, I would say quarters – not days, not months, but quarters – to prove its value. If a part of your PR program is not providing value, measure what works, and cut what doesn't. And that's a good way to scale back your PR program a little bit or put new dollars into new places that you can use on an experimental basis. But yeah, I would definitely use data to make informed decisions about what's working with your PR and what's not.
Step No. 11 is find out what your peer companies are paying. So, we have some industry research, and I'll put a link to this also in the episode notes where you can kind of go in and look at, by industry, what are other companies spending on PR. And so there's really no general rule of thumb that works for every company. Some companies are going to be more aggressive about PR. Some people aren't going to do PR at all and they're going to wish they did when something goes wrong or when they don't have that equity built in their brand, in the community or in the marketplace or in the industry or with the consumer base that they serve. But as we know, there are some companies that just don't spend any money on PR, and there's some companies that spend a lot. And then there's no-revenue startups who are very heavily dependent on PR, and with no revenue, you can't really cite what percentage of their revenue they spend on PR. But we've got some data to show that the largest companies are spending 1% of 1% on their PR. Even larger companies are spending 1% of 1% of 1% on PR. Then there are other companies that are spending 1% to 10% of their revenue on PR, which might sound really high, but again, a no-revenue startup, any money they spend on PR is going to be a huge percentage of what little-to-no income they might be receiving. But use some data points to see what your peers are spending. If you belong to industry organizations, maybe your peer is willing to tell you what they spend with their PR firm. But I would also tell you to look at the results. I see a lot of companies spending next to nothing on a PR firm and getting next to nothing for the results. So, don't just ask what they're spending, but ask them about the ROI. Ask them about what their expectations and the output and the outcomes, the outtakes and outcomes are from those relationships. What are the results that they're seeing? I one time had a consultant in the industry come to me and say: "I see that you're charging our mutual client X number of dollars for PR. I think that's ridiculous. I think that they should be paying you about half that." And I said, "Well, they're actually our smallest client. And so, they definitely are paying half of what our average client is paying. I don't think there's an option for us to do the work at half the price. And I don't think they would appreciate getting half the value that they're currently receiving." Well, that consultant didn't stick around long because my client soon found that he wasn't giving good advice. So, you've got to really measure the advice you're getting. And, candidly, I think that consultant thought that maybe if he could get the PR firm's budget down a little bit more, he could get more money for his consulting business that he was providing to the company. And quickly he discovered, as did the company, that his information, his assistance, wasn't as valuable as they thought. And by him trying to chisel down all of their providers to get lower costs was just a tactic for him to get more fees, and that didn't last long. So be mindful of where you're getting your sources from, talk to trusted people, go deeper in those conversations than just, "What are you paying?" Also ask, "What are you getting?" Both scope of work and ultimately, the outcome.
And speaking of being mindful, I brought this up earlier. I'll bring it up again, but be mindful that the best PR results come over time. Again, I think you should measure and evaluate PR successes quarter over quarter. And each quarter they should be getting better and better. Certainly you can, just like anything else, you could take out the best quarter and the worst quarter and kind of eliminate them to kind of see what an average looks like. But you should be seeing a trailing increase of your PR outcomes and outputs, et cetera, and value that you're receiving from your PR program and your PR agency. For us at Axia, we find that our clients are seeing better and better results quarter over quarter. And the clients that have been with us the longest, three, five, 10 years, are the ones that are seeing the greatest increase over time. Because PR is a long game. It's not instant and overnight. It's not a shotgun effect. It's not like advertising where it's a flash in the pan and then it's gone. The best PR is slow and steady and builds over time because trust builds over time. It's like Warren Buffett said: It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and just a moment to lose it. But what PR is, is building that lifetime value of the brand and the trust of the brand. And it's doing it through ways that are not company-focused, but audience-focused-type messages that really resonate with the audience and that people care about. So just be mindful: The best PR results come over time. Don't look to engage a PR firm for just 30 days on a one-and-done thing unless you've got the next thing lined up and the next thing and the next thing. But we've had clients over the years – they come to us and they're looking for a 30-to-60-day blitz. And then they do nothing for six to nine months or a year. Then they do a 30-to-60-day blitz and they do nothing for nine months to a year. And while that's better than nothing, they're not getting any scale or value from the relationship and the shotgun effect, they'll find quickly, doesn't work as well as they might think. So, I'm not against working with PR agencies on projects, especially when there are special projects and especially if you're doing it yourself in-house. But if you're just doing PR for the sake of doing PR, one quarter out of the year or one month out of the year, it's kind of like brushing your teeth one time out of the year. It's just not going to work for you in the way that you want it to. Sure, it's going to be great initially. And you're going to feel good about it initially. But over time, the decay of the experience goes down and down for everybody, and the newness and freshness, pardon the pun, just wears off. So, that's something to think about.
Step No. 13 is partner with a PR firm that knows you. Finding the right PR partner takes time. And whether you're in a crisis or not, a PR firm that can react immediately is always a plus. There's value in retaining a PR firm that knows your company and that you're giving that PR firm time to get to know your company and effectively manage your PR. Don't waste time or opportunity negotiating basic short-term project agreements, but really look for a PR partner that's going to know you. The best compliment we get as a PR firm is from our clients that go: "You know us and you know what we need to hear when we need to hear it. You're not afraid to give us candid advice, but our leadership team trusts you, and we trust the advice you give us. And so we're looking more to you for advice than we are for execution and implementation, but it's your candid feedback. And you can tell us when we're right, when we're thinking about things the right way. You can also kind of bring this objective candor to the table that's very helpful to us." But that came from years of getting to know them and their culture and their values and their leadership team and how they like to do business before we could start being that candid with them and giving them that high level of advice to tell them when they're on brand and off brand and how the PR will work for that.
The 14th and final tip I want to share today is a little bit controversial, especially for those that are overseeing advertising or those that are in the advertising, say, agency space. And that would be to cut advertising. And as I start talking about this and thinking about it out loud, to me, it has two meanings. One: most brands have a really big advertising budget and a really small PR budget. Most brands are just blowing all kinds of money on advertising, which studies show, research shows, doesn't really work that well. It's a flash in the pan. Like I said, it's here and gone and people forget about it. People are actually desensitized to advertising, where they just learn how to tune it out. They don't even pay attention to it anymore. And so, they don't turn on the news or open a magazine or go to a website to say, "Gosh, I wonder who's advertising today." They are looking for the content. And PR helps you be part of the content and part of the conversation, not a sponsor of the content. And so, I would start looking at your advertising budget. Maybe you could slice it by 1% to 10% and suddenly have a much more meaty and meaningful PR budget. The other thing about cutting advertising is, I would just say the second meaning is, if you're working with an advertising agency who's doing some PR for you but their primary focus is media billing or paid media work or ad design, they're probably not a PR firm, and they're probably not very good at it, either. And so I would say cut advertising out. Meaning have an ad agency that's focused on paid media and design and have an expert PR agency who helps you with PR because they are two unique disciplines. And I really think that you need to start thinking about: Are they your best partner if their focus is on paid media? I know a lot of companies who have told me that they hired an ad agency who could also do their PR. And the problem they ran into is they were paying a separate PR retainer to that ad agency. And that PR department was only bringing to them ways to donate money, ways to sponsor events, and ways to buy basically paid media that looks like earned media or advertorial. So really, they're paying them a retainer to come back to them with new ways to spend money or new ways to use paid media or paid funds or sponsored dollars to get visibility in the marketplace. And ultimately, that led to a disappointed client because the agency really isn't focused on PR, they're focused on paid media. So that's all they really know how to do. And the last thing, the worst thing you want to have happen, is have your account executive at your ad agency go about picking up the phone and trying to pitch media with a news release that a copywriter wrote, and that copywriter's used to writing ad copies. So it looks like you're sending an advertisement to them to run as a quote-unquote, “press release” in their news outlet website, radio station, videocast, TV show, or TV station, whatever it might be. Trust me when I tell you that's not what they're looking for. That is not very newsworthy content whatsoever. Let's be sure, we'll put in this episode notes, a link to our Elements of News so you can get familiar with the 10 elements of news and what makes a news story newsworthy. And I promise you that advertising copywriters are not thinking about those things when they're preparing a news release.
So that's 14 ways I think you can save money on your PR agency as we head into the second half of 2022 and into 2023. Who knows what the future has? But what I do know is these 14 ways are pretty much timeless ways that you can save money with your PR agency. I hope this was valuable to you. Please let me know either way if there's one tip or another that you liked, or one tip or another you're already doing. Maybe there's something new here or different that I should be thinking about or that you're going to start thinking about. And let's have a little dialogue about this so that we can continue to help you stay on top of PR. And with that, I'm Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations, signing off. Thank you for listening and watching. Please be sure to share this episode with someone you think that would benefit from it. Be well.
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- On Top of PR is produced by Axia Public Relations, named by Forbes as one of America’s Best PR Agencies. Axia is an expert PR firm for national brands.
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About your host Jason Mudd
On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.
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