Hidden Opportunities For Small Business in an Economic Downturn

Sarah Skerik, Vice President, Social Media, PR Newswire

The current economic conditions pose real challenges for marketers, who are charged with building demand and sales, despite a severe decrease in budget. In times like these, it’s essential to recognize – and capitalize – on opportunities to build your brand and your market share in the face of budget pressures and reductions in available resources.

The good news for the public relations industry is that PR is increasingly being seen as an inexpensive and effective means of increasing brand awareness and ultimately driving sales. Savvy communicators will recognize that as customer behavior changes and their competitors reduce promotional spending, opportunities abound for their own brand.

It is important to consider the fundamental changes in consumer behavior we’re seeing today. Shareholders and stakeholders are taking dim views of extraneous spending on events and luxury transport for executives. Conspicuous personal consumption is now a faux pas. Organizations providing solutions that fill the needs of the new consumer model (everything from online meetings to make-at-home meals) will benefit from building awareness now, as consumers form new habits -- a point Neale Martin drives home in his book, Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Ignore.

Another important consideration in this market is message tone. We’re already seeing marketers adopt a more empathetic point of view that emphasizes value. Herein lies a significant opportunity for public relations, where storytelling, message tonality and positioning are elevated forms of high art. A recent news release from the Illinois CPA Society provides a great example. This release combined tips for smart tax preparation with a clever NCAA tournament angle. The message is effective because it’s timely and it’s also focused on helping people avoid making costly mistakes on their taxes.

This is also a great time to leverage the investment your organization has made in corporate social responsibility programs by promoting events, awards and community involvement. These powerful messages, such as Markham Vineyards’ recent multimedia news release announcing their " Mark of Distinction” community development grant program, resonate with a variety of stakeholders and are a great way to build brand awareness around a positive story.

When thinking about reaching online audiences with your messages, there are a few different channels to consider. Your own Web site is an important starting point. In addition, finding and communicating with your audiences via social media channels can be an effective (and no-cost!) way to connect with enthusiasts and influencers. Finally, it’s important to remember that news releases distributed over the wire are syndicated to more than 5,000 Web sites, reaching audiences both broad and niche and delivering important visibility in search engines. PR Newswire’s Visibility Reports quantify news release results and measure audience engagement at no extra charge.

Looking for broad online syndication of your content? iReach from PR Newswire can help.  Click here to find out more.

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