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The 2024 Cision and PRWeek Global Comms Report

Find out how 400+ PR and comms leaders worldwide are approaching the way they work in today’s media landscape.

10 Things to Consider When Planning Your PR Budget

“How much should a company spend on PR?” It’s a question we get asked here a lot at Cision, in hopes of getting a quick, one-size-fits-all answer.

The answer is: It depends.

Your organization’s individual goals and needs are what should inform your spend – not what other organizations are spending. Instead of thinking about what others are doing, reflect on how much you need to achieve your goals and meet your needs, based on current resources and planned efforts.

Framing out your budget needs 

When thinking about your budget needs, you need to consider everything from content and SEO strategies to your social media and influencer marketing strategies, and the KPIs your team has identified as being the most meaningful for your brand. 

This makes budget forecasting and justification easier for you and your higher-ups (who don't live and breathe PR and comms on a daily basis) to understand and therefore approve. 

6 Considerations for PR Budget Planning

Consider these recent developments in the world of PR as you think through your budget needs:

  1. There are fewer journalists, and more influencers: Your brand needs an influencer marketing strategy that integrates with your larger brand strategy and pinpoints the influencers your audience is paying attention to. 

  2. Your audience is active on more channels than ever, so you need to be too. Allocate budget to experiment with your content approach in each place so you're sure that your brand message is reaching your audience in as many places as possible, with the tailored content they want to see. 

  3. Audiences are paying attention and keeping companies accountable. As consumers and investors call on companies to be more socially and environmentally responsible, companies are investing more in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. As a result, PR is being tasked with creating the messaging around it and communicating it to the broader community. It’s important that PR teams think about the resources needed to execute an ESG comms strategy.

  4. The C-suite is looking to comms more than ever. Ninety-one percent of communications leaders say the C-suite has relied on comms teams for strategic counsel more in the last year, according to the 2021 Global Comms Report. This increased reliance underscores PR’s need for resources that enable them to stay ahead of breaking news and trending stories that are relevant to their organization, brand and industry.

  5. Earned media has unique credibility: Research continues to point to earned media being the most credible type of media for a majority of consumers, so it makes sense to prioritize this approach in your strategy and your PR budget.

  6. Social listening is changing the game for PR. It may not have been on PR’s radar a few years ago, but social listening is now a must-have part of PR's strategy, as it enables PR teams to learn more about target audiences and potential customers on a deeper level than ever before. If you’re not allocating resources toward social listening, now is the time to start.

4 Tips for Securing Your PR Budget 

Here are some tips to help you justify your spend and secure more budget moving forward. 

  1. Align marketing outcomes with company goals: Much like any financial decision, you need to consider what you want to achieve before you can decide how much you want to spend. Consider your organization’s overall goals, and then determine how PR will contribute to those goals. What numbers can you put behind that plan? No role can afford to act in isolation anymore; PR should be integrated but still needs to prove its individual value.

  2. Budget beyond press release distribution: Press releases continue to play a big role in effective media outreach (and you should definitely be taking multimedia into consideration when planning your budget); however, they are only one part of a holistic PR strategy.

    In addition to distribution services, think about investing in PR analytics tools so you can track the results of your efforts, gain a better understanding of your audience and turn the information you gather into actionable insights. It’s also important to consider where paid media and sponsored content fit into the mix.

  3. Provide strategic insights and actionable data: You won’t get anywhere with the powers that be (e.g. those who control the budget) if you can’t present compelling numbers. As noted earlier, PR is historically difficult to measure; however, that’s changing.

    Today, there are a plethora of tools that are measuring PR beyond AVE and share of voice. With the right ones you can track the outcome of your efforts, connect those outcomes to the bottom line and translate all of this into language the C-Suite can understand with executive-ready reports. (Obviously, we’re partial to Cision's suite of solutions, but we knowothers who agree.)

  4. Show what that money will go toward. In addition to showing the impact you’re already making, be ready to talk about what you’d be able to do with even more budget. For example, maybe you want more budget to put toward more sophisticated monitoring and measurement tools or a platform that helps you quickly identify and connect with the right journalists and influencers to amplify your messaging.

    Try to be as specific as possible by actually calculating how much time is dedicated toward manual efforts that could be made more efficient with better tools. Show how the time saved investing in more sophisticated software solutions will translate to cost savings.

Final thoughts

So…what should you spend on PR? A PR and Communications budget is a strategic decision that differs for each organization, but the earlier you start measuring the impact of your PR efforts, the better a position you will be in to secure more PR budget.

Justifying your PR budget is never an easy task. PR has been notoriously difficult to measure; however, more sophisticated tools and technology have emerged in recent years making it easier for PR and communications teams to pull key analytics that tie PR back to business outcomes and prove its value. 

Mary Lorenz

Mary Lorenz is Editorial Director at Cision and writes about best practices and thought leadership for marketing, communications and public relations professionals. She has a background in marketing, public relations and journalism and over 15 years of experience in copywriting and content strategy across a variety of platforms, industries and audiences.