As the saying goes, "Out of sight, out of mind." Every day that your business is not marketing, promoting or publicising itself, your company could be losing further market share to a competitor.

The hard reality is that in these unprecedented times, communication remains key to keeping the doors open and bouncing back in line with the economy. 

Arnoux Maré, the CEO of Innovative Solutions Group, says that his group of companies strategically chose to increase their marketing communications spend during the economic downturn specifically to capture new business opportunities.

This decision has seen ISG achieve extraordinary growth over the past year, exemplified by the successful launch of Innovative Solutions (ILS) — already one of the largest driver training centres in Africa.

"When business or market conditions are tough, company leaders should be spending even more on marketing and communications to emerge top of mind and on a stronger footing than competitors," says Maré.

"In my experience, rather than scaling back during the difficult times, companies need to invest in building brand awareness to be top of mind and continue to work towards growing a loyal consumer base. This means that your business will be better positioned to seize advantage of sales opportunities once consumer spending ticks up again," Maré adds. 

Public relations is a particularly valuable and cost-effective tool for businesses looking to get the most out of limited marketing budgets.

In light of this, here are three reasons to consider PR in difficult times:

1. It provides bang for your buck

PR services not only cost a fraction of most advertising opportunities, but you are also likely to reach a far larger selected target audience across multiple platforms.

PR further delivers an outsized return on investment in terms of:
  • generating brand awareness
  • establishing brand credibility
  • recruiting talent, and
  • increasing leads and sales.
In comparison to a single advertising placement, experienced public relations professionals with a good understanding of media and a broad network of media contacts are able to cost-effectively disseminate stories to a variety of media platforms, generating interest and coverage across online, print, television and radio mediums.

2. It has an influence on consumer decision-making

Rather than a direct emphasis on sales, the primary goal of public relations is to build strong reputations, more resilient and influential brands and to aid businesses in engaging with their target markets. However, it is worth noting that public relations is often far more persuasive than paid for advertising.

3. PR keeps customers invested in your brand

Through continuously engaging and building relationships with consumers, PR acts to keep customers invested in the success of your brand.

Continuous communication reassures customers of companies' ongoing commitment to delivering excellent products or services, even in difficult times. By contrast, a sudden silence could risk stirring speculation regarding whether your business may be in trouble, or even whether it still exists.

"Additionally, public relations works to showcase brand values and your work as a responsible corporate citizen, driving consumer support. People are far more likely to buy from a brand that they have read or heard positive things about, and PR is, therefore, an essential component in transforming casual browsers into loyal brand fans. 

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