Siddhartha Mukherjee: Do corporates really carve out separate budget for PR?

27 Aug,2020

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

 

For a large section of the PR and Corporate Communications fraternity, this question will bring a smirk on their faces.  They have never seen this happen. So, it is quite unthinkable, so far. Whatever budget allocation has happened all this while has been a sub-allocation or diversion of ‘advertising’, ‘marketing’ or ‘launch’ budgets. It may come under any heading but public relations or corporate communications. Funnily, when the same corporate gets hits with a market crisis roadblock, budgets get allocated formally under PR/Corporate Communications and that too in a jiffy.

 

The much-used ornament of ‘PR for PR’ campaign by various leaders is in a limbo. C-suite’s recall of PR/Corporate Communications as an integral business management function is so very low. No wonder, C-suites and departments like finance, marketing, human resource, etc do not think of corporate communications as a separate business management personality.

 

What are some of the side effects of this?

 1. Low Morale of Corporate Communications Function:The constant begging and/or justification needed to sustain the PR/Corporate Communications function with funds or budgets leads to loss of job interest. Low job morale or self-esteem is a key issue that is plaguing our industry.

2. Poor Quality of Talent: The flip side to this is that it leads to attracting irregular talent profile. This, then, ends up being a vicious circle. On one side, this leads to extracting poor quality work from PR agencies, and on the other, this leads to unsatisfactory experience of the C-suites.

3. Brand becomes weak: Lack of budgets leads to weak brand building sustenance. A brand needs a lot of preparation, effort and round the year of pampering. Brand logo, promise and experience management are very crucial areas and these need round the year investments. Corporate and Product Reputation have their unique and unison dynamics. Budget scarcity makes a brand matrix weak.

4. Brands go through worse crises: Due to brand management negligence due to lack of budgets, the organization ends up being the worse hit when the brand faces smallest of crisis. The impact is direct on the balance sheet. Assets fall, liabilities bloat up.

 

5. External Partners suffer: Not only do the Corporate Communications departments suffer internally but even the external agency partners are left with peanuts. It is a common misinterpretation that agencies can operate and grow at a small fee. Lack of budgets create last mile impact on agencies – poor business growth, below par talent, unsatisfactory standards of service delivery, etc.

 

How can this be changed?

1. ERP orientation for C-suites: Many C-suites still do not really understand how PR and Corporate Communications is executed, what goes on behind the scenes and most importantly, what (tangible) value it brings for the business and brand.An orientation (PR for PR in true sense) of what PR and Corporate Communications will work wonders and change the archaic budget allocation tendencies.

2. Measurement vs Monitoring: The Corporate Communications team continues to misinterpret or confuse PR monitoring services with that of measurement. This has been the core reason why Corporate Communications functions has still not been able to showcase tangible value to C-suites. This singular factor, if addressed well, can make bring about a huge mindset change in budget allocation under the heading of PR and Corporate Communications.

 

Budgets, funds, investments, call what you may. PR and Corporate Communications is goldmine! C-suites will do themselves and the organisation a favour by leveraging it well – through understanding, acknowledgement, appreciation, investments.

 

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a senior marketing services research professional. He was until last year Business Head at Eikona and is currently Founder of Brand Balance (brandbalance.in). This column appears every other Thursday on MxMIndia. His views here are personal. He can be reached via Twitter at @SIDmvrck

 

 

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