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Best Recession Marketing Investment? Relationships

Posted on Feb 16th, 2009
Written by Lee Odden
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    Search marketing has been known as recession resistant because so many companies shift or increase internet marketing budgets there in good times and in bad.  When other marketing and advertising channels don’t hold up to ROI scruitiny, tactics like SEO hold up rather well.  Sage advice on how to execute on this insight can be found at “Recession Proof Search Engine Optimization Tips“.

    Another channel receiving budget attention even while marketing costs are being cut or shifted is public relations – especially with B2B companies.  A recent story in BtoB Magazine, “Marketers stay in the conversation with PR” tells the story of a company that relies on case studies as part of their PR efforts. Since many of their customers conduct research as part of the sales process, the case studies promoted via PR efforts are an instrumental part of their ability to attract new customers.

    Public Relations is more than press releases and media relations efforts to pitch journalists stories about companies. PR also involves building thought leadership, social media engagement, content development, internal company communications and many more aspects of corporate communications that affect marketing. 

    Due to the shift of advertising and publications online, newsrooms have been dealing with limited resources due to job loss and budget cuts for several years. The recession has not improved that situation and creates even more pressure for journalists to produce more content with less resources. Public Relations helps meet that need for content by delivering story ideas, research, subject matter experts and resources.

    Digital PR savvy agencies are making both traditional media relations, digital media relations and optimized news content work together as part of a Push Pull PR strategy.  PR agencies work to partner with journalists to provide content via push delivery but can also optimize (SEO) news content to make it easy for story researchers to find companies the PR firms represent.

    The trend in hard times is for companies to cut all marketing costs that are not tied to direct sales. Yet some companies are shifting budgets to smart, creative online marketing and PR efforts. When no one else is marketing, there’s even more opportunity to stand out to prospective buyers. 

    As companies decide where to invest their limited marketing resources, there is a distinct opportunity to focus on investing in relationships: with their customers, prospects, employees and business partners.   

    Online marketing and PR tactics such as social media marketing, online public relations and search engine optimization combine to provide a high value, modest cost and highly measurable solution for companies that need a competitive advantage.

    Social media engagement helps build relationships with consumers and influencers as well as social web savvy journalists. SEO and optimized social media content makes it easier for consumers to find information online when they’re doing the research that will help them make buying decisions. It also help journalists to efficiently do the research necessary for writing stories and making decisions about what reputatble companies to cover.

    That’s right: I am suggesting that there is a difference in optimizing content for lead generation vs optimizing content for journalists doing research for story sources.  This is the kind of creative effort that digital PR brings to a slim marketing budget. The ability to use technology as well as an understanding of search and the industry to gain a competitive advantage.  See: “Optimizing the Right Content for the Right Audience” for more insight.

    Companies that have been engaged in social web participation long before the economy went into recession may already have an asset those looking into social media now desire: better relationships with their customers. PR, SEO and Social Media can facilitate the effectiveness of building those relationships – even for companies that are just now starting. The challenge is figuring out how to best use the resources available and what internal expertise or outside help will make best use of them.

    Need more data on justifying social media and PR? Check out the new report from Marketing Sherpa: “What Works and What Doesn’t in Social Media Marketing and PR“.