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Key Considerations for Your PR Budget – And How to Get What You Need

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“How much should a company spend on public relations?” It’s a question we get asked here a lot at Cision – and for good reason: Public relations is a critical component of any organization's success, and as with any effective business initiative, needs the right amount of funding to support it.

Unfortunately, there is no quick, one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

10 Considerations for Planning Your PR Budget Needs

While knowing what your industry peers and competitors are spending for PR can provide some insight, your organization’s individual goals and needs are what should inform your spend. After all, a company’s spend on PR can vary wildly, based on a number of factors, such as:

  • Company size: The larger your (or your client’s) company, its reach and audience, the more widespread your communication needs will be. Therefore, you may want to put aside for your PR budget to accommodate a more extensive PR strategy. Smaller organizations, on the other hand, might focus on targeted, cost-effective PR efforts.
  • Industry: Certain industries, such as tech or finance, where the need to manage public perception and stakeholder confidence is more pronounced, are more likely to allocate a higher percentage of their budget to PR.
  • Geography and the current landscape: Companies in major metropolitan areas or competitive markets may need to allocate more resources to PR to stand out and communicate more effectively.
  • Goals and initiatives: Your PR budget should also take into account specific goals or initiatives. Are you aiming to increase brand awareness, manage a crisis, launch a new product, or build lasting relationships with stakeholders? Each objective requires a different strategy and level of investment.

There are also a number of external factors to take into account when deciding how much you should invest in PR efforts. As you think through your budget needs, consider these recent developments in the world of PR and communications:

  • 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. (Pro tip: Investing in a robust media relationship management tool can help you build a comprehensive media influencer list to enhance your strategy.)
  • 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 channel 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. 
  • The C-suite is looking to comms more than ever. Ninety-two percent of communications leaders say the C-suite has relied on comms teams for strategic counsel more in the last year, according to the 2024 Global Comms Report (launching in mid-January). 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.
  • Earned media has unique credibility: Research continues to point to earned media being the most credible type of media for most consumers – and the one that returns the most value for communications teams, according to the Global Comms Report – so it makes sense to prioritize this approach in your strategy and your PR budget.
  • Social listening has changed the game for PR. Now just as integral to PR and comms strategies as media monitoring, social listening enables PR teams to learn more about target audiences and potential customers on a deeper level and personalize their campaign messaging more than ever before. If you’re not allocating resources toward social listening, you can be certain that your competitors are.
  • Brand reputation and management is more important than ever. In this age of instant communication, crises – to potentially devastating effects. PR and corporate comms teams must stay informed about shifts in public perception, and be able to move quickly to mitigate risks that could potentially damage their brand.  

5 Tips for Securing Your PR Budget 

Knowing how much you need to allocate toward successful PR is only half the battle. Convincing your stakeholders – those who manage the budget – of your needs and getting their buy-in is another story. Here are some tips to help you justify your spend and secure more budget moving forward. 

  1. Align PR goals with organizational objectives: Clearly align your PR goals with the overall objectives of the organization. When stakeholders see that your PR initiatives directly contribute to achieving broader business goals, they are more likely to prioritize and invest in these efforts. Illustrate how a well-funded PR strategy can positively impact key performance indicators and organizational success.
  2. Emphasize the business impact of PR: Many decision-makers may not fully understand the impact PR efforts can have on the business as a whole. Take the time to educate stakeholders about the strategic role of PR in building brand equity, managing crises, and fostering consumer loyalty. The more you can draw a direct line between PR efforts and the bottom line, the stronger your case for more budget.
  3. Provide strategic insights and actionable data: You won’t get anywhere with your financial stakeholders if you can’t present compelling numbers. While PR is historically difficult to measure, that is no longer the case, thanks to new and emerging tools and technology that make it easier to measure PR beyond AVE and share of voice. With the right platform, 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 CisionOne, but we know others who agree.)
  4. Present a comprehensive plan: Develop a detailed and comprehensive PR plan that outlines the specific initiatives you intend to undertake and the associated costs. Break down the budget into different components, such as media relations, content creation, events, and crisis management. Providing a clear roadmap with specific outcomes will instill confidence in stakeholders and make it easier for them to allocate funds.
  5. Highlight the risks of underfunding: You’ve clearly articulated the benefits of investing in PR, but don’t forget to point out the risks associated with NOT investing. Without sufficient PR resources in place, your organization may not be equipped to manage a potential crisis, miss opportunities for positive media coverage, see a decline in brand reputation, or lose market share to competitors. Presenting a compelling case for what you stand to lose without support for PR can be another effective way to encourage stakeholders to allocate more funds.

Final thoughts

So…what should you spend on PR? Determining the budget for PR and communications is – much like planning a PR campaign – a strategic decision that takes careful consideration, should be based on a variety of factors, and requires continuous re-assessment to ensure you’re allocating efforts where they are most effective and getting the most return.

To help determine the right tools to invest in for your team’s unique needs – and those that will yield the highest return on your investment – schedule time to speak with a Cision expert today.

About Mary Lorenz
About Mary Lorenz

Mary Lorenz is Director of Content and Creative at Cision. She oversees the editorial strategy 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.