Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Public Relations - Does it Make Cents?

While doing research on a project over the past week, I realised that the question of budgets for PR was a nebulous one in the literature. So of course I went to the real world via Twitter and the feedback was not that surprising.

In my own experience, over the course of a few different jobs in both the private and public sectors, the process around PR budgets varied. In one role, we had a flat budget annually. There was no negotiation - take it or leave it. Somehow we had to make this stretch across advertising, stakeholder engagement, CSR activities, internal comms activities.

Most of the time though, the budget process was simply around what I call "submit and pray". You planned the year's activities, plotted the financial resources required for said activities, submitted the budget and hoped to God the powers that be would see it your way. They often never did. Budgets came back slashed by 30, 40, 50 percent and still you were expected to make the organisation and its brand shine like a new shilling.

And between reponses from my Twitteratti like "what budget?", "PR what?" and "Budget? LMAO", I realised that the PR professional in many cases suffer the same fate I did, in that somehow the PR budget is at the bottom of the cash money food chain. Even in my last job, most of the money we eventually got, was pillaged to get advertising spend.

So what is the reason for this? Is PR still the bastard child of the organisational family? It really all comes down to how PR positions itself within the organisation and how valued it is, how valued its people are. It's a circle of life that starts with people and power and perceptions. Until those things are in alignment, then the tweets like "PR budgets exist?" will continue and then that is truly a blow to the work that we try to do.


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