Systems Thinking & the Unintended Long Term Consequences of Slashing Your Marketing Budget Now

“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”
- Bill Gates

I’ve been learning about Systems Thinking lately and I believe it applies to our blog post on Tuesday about why PR and marketing budgets should NOT be cut in a down economy (and of course, why our PR Stimulus offer can help!)

The basic belief behind Systems Thinking is that doing the most obvious thing is not always – in fact, rarely – the best thing to do. Problems are a result of multiple, integrated issues, not just one component. Few business leaders take the time – or understand how – to identify the events, trends and causes that lead to a problem or that should be considered in a solution (a “causal loop”). So often the “fixes” that business leaders apply to problems fail and rather create a temporary solution for today that lead to more problems tomorrow.

I would say that applies to pulling PR and marketing as one of the first cost cutting measures. If no one knows about you and your company, no one buys, if no one buys, well – you get the picture – it’s a related loop. Shouldn’t marketing continue to be a priority for businesses in a down economy…. shouldn’t PR be one of the last things to go? I’d be interested in how systems thinking experts would analyze this situation, given that systems thinking is supposed to help organizations that want to develop and sustain competitive advantage. Just as your competitors are going quiet, don’t you want to grab this opportunity to fill the void? If you put PR and marketing on hold now, you could spend even more money in the future trying to completely “relaunch” from a marketing perspective.

The noise is quieting down as your competitors are hunkering down – work with experts (PR agency, social media expert, marketing consultant – whatever is best for your business) to ensure that your marketing is smart, nimble, focused and effective. Take advantage of the opportunity left by others who only see the obvious route – to slash budgets – but haven’t taken the time to think about the long term ramifications and solutions. Look for agencies (yes, like ours) that know “PR 2.0″ – the strategies and tools deployed for such can deliver more cost-effective campaigns that still keep awareness at an all time high.

Marketing and promotion in a down economy is a golden opportunity for those who can think dynamically and understand how “today’s decisions can have both intended and unintended consequences – leading to tomorrow’s successes and problems.”

Experts Say Don’t Cut PR in a Down Economy – PerkettPR’s “PR Stimulus Package” Can Help

In this time of economic uncertainty, many organizations pull in their marketing efforts and go under the radar in an effort to save money. However, some of the most experienced business executives have suggested that slashing PR and Marketing is the last thing you should do:

“Historically, PR, Marketing and Advertising budgets are the first to be cut; however, that could be one of the first mistakes a business makes in an economic crisis.” CBSMarketwatch

“In a downturn, aggressive PR and Communications strategy is key.“ Doug Leone, VC, Sequoia Capital -
Silicon Alley Insider

“It’s incredibly important to be risk-takers in the economic climate we’re in, when people have a tendency to pull back. In economic times like these, you don’t hunker down and go in the bunker,” Michael Mendenhall, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Hewlett-Packard
New York Times

“Ramp up PR and marketing communications aggressively,” Marketing Sherpa, (summary of Sequoia Capital presentation takeaways)

“Don’t go to the ledge. Don’t let the urgent overwhelm the important. It’s very easy now to panic, and we cannot panic. Invest in your brands now, especially in these dry times. The easiest thing is to shut down, and that’s the worst thing.” Joseph V. Tripodi, chief marketing and commercial officer, Coca-Cola
New York Times

So what can you do and how can we help?

So you’re not HP or Coca-Cola and you definitely need to watch your marketing budget. We want to help you do so without giving up on PR and Marketing. As a result, for any organization that partners with PerkettPR by 12/31/08, we’ll include a social media boot camp at no cost and an incentive-driven three month trial for your PR campaign*.

Why social media? Well, there’s a lot of chatter about PR and social media these days. In particular, a recent panel event hosted by an industry peer stirred up the question “Is Social Media Killing PR?” No, social media is not killing PR – in fact, for those who “get it,” social media is making PR stronger and better. But you need to make sure you’re working with someone who understands it – and that happens through participation. PerkettPR has long been participating and learning – and we want to help others understand why social media is a good thing for PR, not a PR killer. In addition, social media is an affordable way to maintain brand presence and increase awareness – when done right.

PerkettPR is proud to have received positive industry feedback about our ability to bridge the gap between traditional PR, “PR 2.0” and social media. Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet recently referred to us in her post “Social Media Will Not Kill PR but it does expose industry weakness” – as one of the handful of PR firms who “get it.” Well-known social media and digital relationship master, Chris Brogan, long ago referred to PerkettPR as an innovative agency leading the way in PR and social media:
“Perkett is versed in the traditional tools of PR, but also skilled in the emerging social media and social networking space. LOTS of organizations are claiming this, and there are lots of leopards out there changing stripes. Christine and her organization are walking the talk. Pick an emerging social network, and I promise you, Christine will have an account, or she’ll have already decided it’s not a value to her clients. That alone is worth your attention and consideration.”

In addition, IT journalists recently rated our firm as one of the Top Tech Communicators – proactively identifying (no predetermined list) PerkettPR as a “best of the best” to work with, in a survey by PRSourceCode. Mike Arrington of TechCrunch calls us “one of the good guys” and says, “When you guys call, I pick up the phone,” in the comments of his August post about PR.

PR is important and social media is a new and crucial element to enhancing its effectiveness. Work with us to learn how to maximize your PR and marketing efforts even in a down economy. Consider it our “PR Stimulus Package.”

*You can contact me directly at 781.834.5852 or cperkett[at]perkettpr.com to hear details and learn more. Better yet, connect with me or our firm on Twitter!

For more on the importance and influence of social media, read:

Moms and Motrin, New York Times

The Five Questions Companies Ask About Social Media, Web Strategy blog by Jeremiah

Social Media will Change your Business, BusinessWeek

How Twittering Critics Brought Down Motrin Mom Campaign, AdAge

Social Media: A Business Marketer’s Guide, iMedia Connection

Web2.0 Summit SF TweetUp 11/6

Fred (@FredFunk) and I (@MosleyPPR) took a few moments to stop by the @TimOReilly Web2.0 TweetUp last night held at the House of Shields on New Montgomery street in SF (@schlomo). All in all, the event was the usual group of technophiles and entrepreneurs, but I don’t think they expected it to be so crowded and so difficult to network there. This was pretty evident when they tried to make an announcement to welcome everyone to the event and they had to resort to standing on a bar stool and shouting with very little success.

With no name tags and a ‘mix it up’ mentality of folks just meandering, among locals having drinks after work, it made it tough for us tech geeks to tell who was who. Our recommendation for next time is never doubt the power of Twitter and plan for a big crowd of folks to show up especially on a Thursday night. Must  have name tags or at least a separate room set aside to corral the tech geeks into the same place for optimal networking and cocktail enjoyment.

In any event, it was good to get out and unwind for a bit. It was also nice meeting Tim O’Reilly in person, and thanks to Luc Levesque from @TravelPod for snapping this shot of Fred and I with Tim on his way out for the night.

Fred Han, Tim O'Reilly and Heather Mosley at Web2.0 Summit SF TweetUp

Fred Han, Tim O'Reilly and Heather Mosley at the House of Shields