Tags: advertising, budgets, central governement, local government, marketing, public spending, recession
The government has announced it needs to make £650million efficiency savings from its marketing and management consultancy spend. We all know we’re in a financial mess, cuts need to be made and all who work in the public sector seem to be resigned to the inevitable.
However, why is it that whenever cuts in communications budgets are announced PR seems to take a bigger hit that advertising? Could it be, in possibly the biggest irony ever, that the profession of PR hasn’t been ‘PRing’ itself sufficiently, so that the decision makers don’t value it as much as advertising? Quite possibly. The other factors are that advertising is still so much easier to understand and grasp as a concept, coupled with the negative ‘political’ issues surrounding PR that still exist from the Peter Mandelson/Alistair Campbell ‘spin’ era.
The public doesn’t really understand PR, and what it does understand isn’t particularly positive. So saving taxpayers’ money by cutting PR is about as popular a spending cut as you can get. But PR is an essential element in the marketing mix to help central and local government to communicate the services it provides and the important role it plays.
Getting this communication right isn’t easy and does necessitate a degree of investment to do it effectively – but getting it wrong can have potentially disastrous consequences. It’s a job for the CIPR, PRCA and PR practitioners themselves to demonstrate how powerful PR can be, how cost-effective it is and continue to improve the image and standing of the profession.
Hopefully, come the next recession, PR will no longer be seen as the easy target for cuts.
Tags: advertising, branding, election, newspapers, politics
The Sun’s decision to abandon New Labour and start backing the Tories (again) has been seen by many commentators as the Sun using its power to influence who its readers will support at the next election. But, is the Sun leading, or actually just following, public opinion?
It’s very important for a newspaper, or any business for that matter, to be in tune with its customers. The Sun likes to see itself as a winner, and glorify in its power to shape elections – who can forget the famous ‘It’s the Sun Wot Won It’ front page following John Major’s election win in 1992? But the Sun doesn’t go against popular opinion. Every time it has changed its political allegiance over the past two decades it has been in the direction of overwhelming opinion polls that have been steady for many months. There has certainly never been an example of the Sun backing the clear underdog and then pulling them through to victory.
One aspect of the media that is often forgotten is that (except for the BBC) individual media outlets are businesses, with shareholders to satisfy, advertisers to attract and customers to keep. All of our media in the UK is branded, so the editorial interest is shaped in such a way to appeal to certain groups in society, reflecting different socio-economic groups. This branding helps the media to attract advertisers, as it’s able to clearly identify the types of people that purchase their news and ‘sell’ their customers to advertisers looking to target those types of people. For example, if a newspaper can say ‘more Volvo drivers read this paper than any other’ it’s an important way to attract the Volvo advertising spend.
So, the Sun’s decision isn’t completely down to its full belief in the policies of Cameron’s Conservatives. It is shifting its stance to reflect the shifting opinion of its customers, albeit in a very high profile way. In the current economic climate it is a lesson that all businesses could do with taking on board – with customers becoming harder to find make sure you keep the ones you have by tweaking your offering to appeal to them above your competitors.