How Much Should Brands Invest in PR

Public relations (PR)

Public relations (PR) is an essential part of the promotional mix for a brand. Some companies prefer internal PR teams, whereas others prefer hiring external PR agencies. But either way, PR can help your brand in ways that include increasing brand awareness and credibility, creating avenues to engage with current and potential customers, crisis communications, and reputation management. And that’s just to start! What’s more, both new and older, established businesses can benefit from public relations, but how much should one invest in PR? Let’s find out.

How Much Investment Is Optimal For PR?

How Much Investment Is Optimal For PR

PR specialists suggest several ways to allocate a budget for PR activities and campaigns, including:

1. Percentage Of Total Sales

This may seem like one of the most straightforward ways to determine how much to invest in PR. With this approach, you decide on a specific percentage of sales during the budgeting process that you will allocate towards PR. But again, you’re left with what percentage is optimal?

Depending on the company, the range may be only 1-3% to up to 20% allocated for PR. It really depends on your circumstances. You could make the case that when sales are low, you need good PR investment to boost them. The flip side is that some may hesitate to spend more when the company is trying to cut costs. Similarly, when your sales are high, you could argue that a high investment in PR is not needed. Or that you need to invest in PR, so you stay top-of-mind to keep those numbers. There’s no right or wrong here. However, a general rule of thumb is to budget 10% of sales towards PR.

2. Follow The Footsteps Of Your Competitor

The business world is highly competitive, and PR is an excellent tool to help you maintain an advantage regardless of your industry. Paying attention to competitors is essential. For example, if your competitor utilizes certain media outlets or if they have a presence at community or industry events, you might want to consider them too. This means if you notice they seem to be spending more on PR in general, consider that in your budgeting so you can keep pace with them. A small amount of investment in PR won’t help much if you’re directly competing with another brand that’s going all out with their investment.

3. It Depends On The PR Activity

Another way to decide how much to invest in PR is by the type of campaigns you’re considering. You need less investment if you are focusing on organic social media than you would by paying influencers, for example. So, with this approach, you’ll need to  determine your PR goals first and allocate your budget to those types of campaigns from there. This is a more fluid way to approach budgeting and may make sense if you’re testing out which type of PR campaigns will work best for your brand.

4. Invest In Your Capacity

You may need to invest in PR according to your capacity. Sometimes, quite simply, your budget may only allow so much investment in PR, regardless of how much you may need the extra exposure. An external PR agency can be a tremendous asset here as they can help you brainstorm creative ways to get the most impact from the budget you do have. What’s more, you may be able to enlist their services for one-off campaigns in which you need the most support and handle other PR activities on your own.

5. Value-Based Investment

Value-Based Investment

This is another way to determine how much you should invest in PR. However, you need someone with experience in forecasting for this option. Value-based investment works by using your previous data to predict the possible impact of future PR activities. For example, if you’ve gotten better results from social media in the past than other types of PR campaigns, you might want to concentrate most of your investment there. Essentially you want to look at each previous campaign and then determine where to increase, decrease, or keep consistent with your PR budgeting.

Next Steps for Investing in PR

If your business is a startup or you’re new to investing in PR, it can be difficult to know which option is best for your brand. It might even take some trial and error to find the best approach to budgeting. That’s why we recommend starting with an external PR agency first. You may not need to invest in an in-house PR team at all. Or, you might find that after time, your PR needs are so great that an in-house team is a better fit. Regardless, you have more flexibility with an agency at first until you’re more sure of your budget. To learn more about how an external PR agency can benefit your brand, contact us today. 


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