PR Spend: What’s a Good Rule of Thumb?


Small business owners are a little like young married couples with children. They watch their pennies, keep their eyes peeled for bargains and maximize the value of every dollar spent. Fully aware of the expenditures and investment needed to ensure the prosperity of their children, young parents learn quickly the importance of keeping a budget.

Small business owners take similar account of their resources when considering outlays for fixed costs, such as utilities, rent and labor, and other non-discretionary spending, such as advertising and marketing campaigns. In an effort to run “lean and mean,” small businesses can sometimes neglect the PR component of business development efforts. However, given the relatively low cost and potential for solid returns, small business owners who budget for PR spend do their marketing and advertising campaigns a great service by providing crucial support to extend and enhance these initiatives.

While a sole proprietor may be uncomfortable parting with an additional expenditure to supplement advertising and marketing dollars, an understanding of how public relations tactics are an integral part of a marketing or advertising campaign substantiates the investment. And the cost is not nearly as sizable as advertising or marketing budgets.

Though the bottom line is of utmost concern, “time spent” is both the key investment and most demanding expenditure for any business. Given the legwork required to build a solid foundation for PR outreach from scratch, time loss and opportunity costs can escalate rapidly. However, much of the legwork does not have to be done by you. 

Small business owners have a range of affordable public relations service options to choose from that are designed to support and execute advertising and marketing campaigns. By using platforms and portals such as PR Newswire’s ProfNet Connect, Media Monitoring and news release distribution services to effectively build credibility, raise awareness and generate as well as cultivate new leads, small business owners can minimize the legwork while still ensuring their messages reach a broad, yet highly targeted audience.

As a general rule of thumb, consider allocating 5%-20% of your marketing budget to public relations. On average, the marketing budget of most businesses comprises roughly 15% of total expenditure. So in terms of total budgetary outlay, PR spend is a relatively low-cost investment with the potential for high return. Since every penny counts, maximizing the return on investment of advertising and marketing campaigns is critical to the health and success of a business. Public relations tactics can provide a better return on investment for those advertising and marketing campaigns and don’t have to add undue burden to the budget.

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