Will Social Media Help PR Weather the Storm?

When I talk to my PR industry colleagues, there’s a fair bit of trepidation about all the economic woes.

We’ve been here before. We’ve seen the bloodletting. We’ve seen corporations slash marketing budgets at the exact moment when they should be pushing more of their chips into outbound efforts.  In fact, the Harvard Business Review noted earlier this year:

“It is well documented that brands that increase (marketing) during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share Will Social Media Help PR Weather the Storm?and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.”

Still, sure, we all worry about the headlines. Even the marketers who know better can’t seem to resist cutting their budgets (as seen in the graphic above). No one will be immune from a truly vicious economic hit.

Smart agencies took a hint from the last downturn. For our part, having been founded in the fiery ashes of the Dot-Com Debacle, much of our own strategic planning has gone into hardening ourselves for the next recession. And meanwhile, I can’t help but wonder: Perhaps Social Media will provide some additional protection for forward-looking PR agencies?

A recent CMO Study by Epsilon (covered in MarketingVox) provided some insights that support this hypothesis. While 2/3rds of the CMOs acknowledged that the recession will ding their budgets, “digital marketing” was a bright spot:

Social computing (including word of mouth, social networking sites, viral advertising, etc.) was the most popular emerging channel with 42% of marketing executives expressing interest in adding it to their marketing mix.

When the going gets tough, the tough start talking. Despite the recessionary climate, most of the marketers surveyed viewed Social Media as a worthwhile addition to the mix. They know that now is the time to rally and reassure customers and prospects.

That’s the critical factor to remember about Social Media: it is not only helping brands spread the word; it also helps the brand to shore up support among its current customers.

The agencies that survive the coming crapfest will be actively helping their own clients realize the benefits of socializing through the recession.

How about you? How are YOU feeling about the economic news? Do you expect it to affect you and/or your agency?

[From Will Social Media Help PR Weather the Storm?]