founder

We’re living in a post-ChatGPT world. One place where we’re seeing a lot of discussion is around content. So what does AI mean for content marketing and content creators? The discussions I’m having with colleagues and clients are two-fold. First, what will AI mean for owned content like blogs? And second, how do search engines using AI affect SEO? In short, AI won’t drive out innovative ideas, or interesting content, and it’s certainly not currently an SEO threat to quality content.

Stay Focused on Quality Content

From an SEO and digital PR perspective, it’s not as straightforward as “Google is penalizing AI content” because there’s no signal that they are explicitly targeting AI content. But a lot of ChatGPT content is iterative or not very insightful and, sometimes, flat-out false.

I’ve been testing searches out on Bing, Google, and other AI search engines, and my observations are consistent with Google’s long-touted philosophy for content that drives dividends. Google has long said that it will prioritize content that is “helpful, reliable, and people-first.

Google knows the internet needs no more “stuff,” and it wants people searching to find genuinely helpful content. If you’re a reader, and you’ve tested out ChatGPT content, you’ve probably noticed it’s not all that insightful. That’s because, for all the talk of a sentient AI, it is not actually sentient. My Dad, who worked at IBM used to say “junk in, junk out” about computers, and that is so very true about AI. And since there is a lot of junk content, there will always be a lot of junk AI content. The world’s greatest thinkers aren’t teaching AI, because there aren’t enough of them to teach AI at the scale currently necessary. Most AI-generated content would not (now) be categorized as quality. Could that change? Sure.

“I use it, but I edit it,” 

Well, that will undoubtedly help. Be sure to fact-check. Until about a year ago, I was testing long-form writing with a well-known AI content engine. I once had a blog post with a completely made-up source, including an author, a book, and a quote. It was fascinating but fake. Plus, my human content team generates better content that performs way better in search, so using AI didn’t pay off in my case, even for SEO content.

I know lots of people using ChatGPT for their blog posts. I can only imagine the rate at which this stuff is going up on the internet. But great content, like the world’s greatest thinkers, is rare, and there’s only room in every search for a #1 position – and it’s extremely unlikely that AI-generated content will surpass everything else out there anytime soon. In short, you CAN use ChatGPT to write a blog post, but I won’t recommend it.

AI-Generated Content for Thought Leadership

The more technical or expert content, the less likely these generative engines can create value.

Plus, the entire point of creating thought leadership content is to provide your insights – and that’s something ChatGPT can’t do. Only you can provide your ideas and perspectives. As a leader, you’ve spent so much time becoming an expert; why would you threaten that reputation to save 30 minutes?

Repeatedly, automation has let me down. That’s why the content on this site with my name is written by me. The only person who writes my content is me. Now, do I think executive ghostwriters are valuable? You bet I do, but ghostwriters take the time to learn an executive’s voice, and adhere to the point of view, so that’s very different from using AI to create a “thought leadership” piece. But regarding my reputation, there is a clear delineation on this blog of my content and content written by my (human) content team, and that’s because, as an entrepreneur, my reputation is valuable, and I bet yours is too.

Is creating quality content difficult? Yes. Does quality content pay off? Yes. I believe actual thought leadership content, like this article, will increase in value, while ChatGPT content will decrease in value. So since creating content is an investment, why not invest in improving returns?

Where Generative AI is Useful for Content

Is AI-generated content useless? No. But it’s essential to consider the context.

ChatGPT and content platforms like Jasper can be most helpful in triggering ideas. ChatGPT is a pretty good communicator and excellent for creating outlines. I recently used ChatGPT to create a book outline, which triggered some ideas. Ultimately, I’ll probably view those suggestions much like my first drafts – part of the process but distanced from the result.

I also think ChatGPT can be useful in creating questions that create many results. Testing your questions on ChatGPT will give you a sense of the content that’s out there on the web and the depth of that content and help you decide if you want to add to that body of thought or not.

In conclusion

Like a calculator, or Excel, using AI will make creating content smoother and faster, but it won’t be a substitute for creativity or critical thinking for content. If you’re writing to improve your reputation, increase awareness or improve SEO, there isn’t much reason to use ChatGPT to create content right now.

As a C-suite executive, you know the importance of connections. And there comes a time when you may need to connect or reconnect on behalf of your company, be it in the pre-IPO phase or as a solid industry leader. I’m not talking about traditional networking functions where many people shove their cards in your face before scurrying off to find the next victim. No, I’m talking about intimate dinners or events with an exclusive guest list and nowhere to hide; it might be an executive-only thought leadership round table, a fundraiser, or a dinner with journalists. For those times when you find yourself with peers or allies, but you aren’t already connected, it can be a bit nerve-wracking because it may have been a while since you were in a room you didn’t command. Lean into these five tips for executive networking for the C-suite.

 

 Be The Conversation Starter

Whether you’re a master at networking or trying to squash your introversion, this is a fun and easy way to put yourself and others at ease: wearing something notable and reflecting your personality. You’ll stand out, and it puts people at ease and makes it easier to approach you.  For men, this could be a tie or colorful socks. It could be a pin on your lapel or a handkerchief that takes your attire to the next level. For women, this could be a colorful scarf, a pin, or even a bright-colored outfit (it helps to stand out in photos when standing next to a bunch of men in dark suits). Having an immediately obvious conversation starter makes it easier for people to approach you, which might be a welcome break from your own room rotation.

Note to the wise: Comment on the item rather than their looks when you see someone using this tactic. “That’s a fantastic scarf-my wife would appreciate that; where did you get it?” is a great way to start the conversation, charming and disarming.

 

Plan Your Conversation

In advance of the event, read a book or several articles immediately of interest to others at the event; bonus points if it’s mutually relevant. But remember your strategy, what you are doing there – what will your target connections value, and what would make for a memorable conversation. This isn’t the time for conversations around politics or religion.

A quick Google search on the people or organizations you want to meet is also helpful. “I saw you in that Forbes article” is a great starter to any executive networking conversation.

 

Introduce Yourself to Organizers

When hosting professional networking events, I always appreciated people who told me it was their first time or asked me if I was the organizer. It gave me a moment to stop and have a conversation with someone, and I was always able to make a mutually beneficial introduction; after all, I knew almost everyone. Make this work for you as well – many people will forget to connect with the organizer because that’s not who they came to connect with, but you can rest assured, they’re the most connected to the people IN the room. Another small and easy way to stand out and lubricate introductions is to email the organizer in advance asking a question that puts the organizer in the “connected expert position;” something like “What’s the recommended attire?” is easy to ask and answer for the organizer, and yet allows you to stand out in advance.

Introduce Yourself As a Person, Not a Company

While this sounds like “networking 101” because C-suite execs are used to being introduced or used to commanding the room, many miss this essential step. When introducing yourself, start by introducing yourself with your first and last name, and do it every time someone joins the conversation so others hear your name repeatedly. When you introduce yourself, say your first and last name, wait a beat, then say your company name. Many of us rush through our introductions, and we don’t give others a chance to hear or understand, which puts them in an awkward position.  And when introducing others, remember to introduce them before anyone else, including the CEO. Clients should always feel embraced and cherished, which is an easy way to do so.

An easy way to connect with someone is by offering to send them something in the mail. Most people can’t resist getting something in the mail. It could be a sample of your latest, buzzworthy product, a book you recently read, or that excellent protein powder that you swear boosts your energy all day. Whatever it is, make it personal and relevant.

While we’re at it – keep your business cards in your pocket until you’ve established a mutual connection and reason to get in touch in the future; better yet, request a business card. Maybe you don’t have a business card; connect on LinkedIn or send an email before you leave the conversation. Steer clear of asking for someone’s phone number at an executive networking event; it’s inappropriate for a first business meeting and puts people on edge when asked in that venue.

Work the Room without Working the Room

Depending on the location, there are a couple of strategic places you can stand where you will inevitably meet people you might not have otherwise; this is executive networking that looks calm, cool and collected. The first is the bar. Almost everyone hits the bar right away, so being there earlier in the event gives you a chance to connect initially with a few people or at the very least, get a sense of who is at the dinner and who might wish to approach. It gives you that 3-second opportunity to review the situation before approaching.

Another location is kitty-corner from the door. If you stand there all evening, you will have the chance to see almost everyone who walks in – and if you’re there with a welcoming smile and willingness to strike up a conversation, people will be relieved to have someone to talk to in the immediately awkward moments of walking into a room.

Follow Up with Flair

Following up with a short, handwritten note after meeting someone is a masterclass in executive visability. The handwritten note is a lost art, so it’s incredibly memorable. But at the very least, send an email or a note on LinkedIn. You might also consider finding a recent article relevant to your conversation and passing that along as well. And don’t forget to send that item (the book, the product, etc.) too. People are always pleasantly surprised when people do as they said they would.

 

Executive-level visibility is high-stakes. Making the most of any in-person opportunity is good business. So when you’re networking in exclusive situations, make the most of your time, while also valuing the time of others and you’ll find executive networking more enjoyable and effective.

I was on a webinar presented by Morgan Stanley and PwC about preparing for an IPO – and something struck me – there was optimism, and the organizations were signaling their faith in the return of IPOs, soon. 2023 has been an IPO graveyard, but as one host said, “One thing we know is markets change, and so it will also be for the low point of IPOs.” Their advice? Prepare now. Preparing for an IPO is a daunting task for any startup, and the focus is often on due diligence. Yet communications and PR are critical to public offering preparedness. What do pre-IPO companies need to do from a communication standpoint? 

 

Reputation Building 

Bankers know that when you pitch them for your IPO, the company has a verified financial model and total addressable market (TAM). And founders know investors are looking for the next $1 billion brand. This makes your company’s reputation extremely relevant. So when you’re looking to stand out to investors, nothing shows social proof quite as well as media coverage. Media coverage can go on the road with you and helps you stand out to investors. Confident, media savvy CEOs give investors confidence; it shows you can handle a very different role as CEO of a public company. 

Thought leadership is vital to reputation building. During this growth stage, executive visibility is more relevant than ever. Since a solid thought leadership program takes time and strategy, we recommend starting a thought leadership program at least 24 months before a desired IPO. 

Create a Compelling Narrative

Many founders mistake the pitch to investors as the corporate narrative. The two are cousins, but different. The narrative should resonate with key stakeholders, investors, and the public, highlighting the company’s mission, accomplishments, and long-term vision.

Know the Difference Between IR and PR

IR (investor relations) and PR (public relations) have important but slightly different roles in a company’s growth pre-IPO phase. Investor relations focuses almost solely on analysts covering topics your potential investors care about. Meanwhile, PR is targeted towards a broader set of journalists, and the public at large. They can and should work together. For example, both should play a role in any press releases. IR will ensure due diligence is met and ensure the investor messaging is correct, while PR will want to ensure the brand message is consistent and the media targets get the information they need. 

Crisis Planning 

The best time to manage a crisis is before a crisis. Before you go public, and get caught up in all the details of going public, plan for a crisis. How you handle a crisis will affect your brand, and god forbid you to have a crisis during your roadshow or quiet period. Your crisis planning should include many scenarios, from the employee, to property, to product, and, yes, cyber security. Every one of these scenarios could require different stakeholder involvement and point persons. Your crisis planning should include table top exercises and the executive team should review crisis PR plans at least once yearly. 

ESG Planning 

 Investors want to be part of companies with the broadest investor audience, and ESG (environmental, social and governance) is part of that, especially since some brokerage firms and mutual funds are offering investment products that employ ESG strategies. Larry Fink, Blackrock CEO, and co-founder, said ESG is “capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you, the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper,”.

From a PR perspective, ESG and even purpose-driven brands have special sensitivities, and it’s important to have a coherent plan and PR strategy for these talking points for all your stakeholders, from investors to customers. ESG is not just for the “woke” – investors see the writing on the wall and have for some time. Also, buyers beyond GenZ see the importance of ESG. 

Audit Your External Communications 

Ensure your website and any owned media meet all regulatory requirements – including executive bios, blog posts, and social media. Look at this moment as your last chance to shower before prom. Your website and social media should also be robust and brand consistent. You want everyone to see you in your best possible light, and the most accessible way for new friends to get to know you is your website. 

Media Training 

The press is not the enemy, but they aren’t here to be your BFF either. Talking to the press live and learning to work with the media under various conditions, including in person with lights and mics, is a skill. While you may have undergone media preparedness before interviews, now is the time to take on a full media training program for your CEO, executives and spokespersons, including anyone who attends public events (like trade shows) on your behalf. 

Expect media training to take several days of intense hands-on training and review. Since all relevant stakeholders will be together, it is also a good time to review and practice your crisis plan too. Since media training is a skill, conducting this exercise well before IPO is recommended. 

The Big Show

Your company will never again go public. This is one of the few indisputably great news moments.  Someone (not the CEO) must ensure the moment is documented and promoted. Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s true – not every company makes the front page of the Wall Street Journal when they go public, but it is news – and someone will care. Using this opportunity to connect with journalists is key; it’s a great time to fill up the trust bucket in the eyes of journalists. 

Prepare for the moment with some notable key messages and brand-worthy must-airs. Run through your must airs and make sure you are prepared to answer questions that might come your way. Have your day meticulously planned with your communications in mind and watch the accolades roll in. 

Effective pre-IPO PR planning is crucial for companies aiming to go public. By crafting an interesting narrative, engaging media and influencers, developing investor communication strategies, building a strong online presence, managing crises, leveraging thought leadership opportunities, and engaging internal stakeholders, companies can establish a positive brand image, attract investors, and generate enthusiasm around their IPO. 

 

Because of the competitive nature of customer acquisition, hyper-growth DTC (D2C) brands are always looking for ways to improve word of mouth and awareness. So it’s no surprise that a lot of fast-growing DTC brands of all sizes are asking, “should we join the metaverse?” The answer to should DTC brands join the metaverse naturally depends on several external factors. From an awareness and PR perspective, there are some considerations before DTC brands joining the metaverse.

What Have You Learned From Watching Other Brands?

Brands like Nike, Warner Brothers, Gucci, and Wendy’s are already in the metaverse. Have you watched these brands closely and experienced their ventures? CMOs and founders intrigued by the metaverse and its opportunities should be sure to sit back and watch a bit. What worked, what didn’t? What inspiration can you take from these digital experiences? Notice many of these ventures are co-branded, which is a great way to double the potential audience size – so what partnerships would enhance the digital introduction of your DTC brand? Gamers are already intimately familiar with NFTs and Virtual goods, so what games appeal to your audience? From breakfast cereal to gaming super powers to fashion add-ons there truly are endless ways for DTC brands to join the metaverse.

Have You Tried Virtual Goods Yet?

46% of consumers haven’t bought a virtual good yet because they don’t understand how it works and 35% might try it if it comes from a brand they trust (full report here). Those two considerations are a lot to unpack. But if your customers are curious early adopters, AND they trust your DTC brand, a great way to test the waters is to experiment with virtual goods (NFTs) like music, memes, or even artwork.

If your customers are curious, but midrange adopters, maybe you set the stage and start educating your consumers a bit, adding to that trust bucket so when the day comes for your brand to fully invest, your customers are ready to come on the journey with you. . The key to intriguing your customers to start their virtual good collection is to pair it with another passion or interest. Virtual goods like avatars or virtual event tickets are easy enough to understand to most consumers, even if they aren’t ready to use them or engage with them yet.

There’s a tremendous value in being the trusted brand that takes your customers by the hand to introduce them to the digital landscape that will make social media look like a flash in the pan.

What Will You DO Once You Get to the Metaverse?

With something like the metaverse, the end goal isn’t to BE there, it’s to activate there. Given that for most consumers, the metaverse is just some vague notion they don’t know how to even access, you’ll need to take stock of where this lands on your priority list. If your customers aren’t in the 18-34 age range of typical NFT purchasers, then this is a pretty big consideration.

Now, if your only goal is to be an early mover, and you have the bandwidth, that is the financial and team resources to do so, by all means, go for it, it’s an interesting brand move right now and it may even get you some press. Media coverage over brands with placement in the metaverse won’t garner attention for long – the metaverse will be as common as having a website and social media. And yet, even now, simply being in the metaverse itself doesn’t garner media attention. You’ll want to activate in some interesting, notable way. The options are endless, but keep in mind that your audience is likely to be small, but starting with a metaverse experience is a great way for the brand and its customers to connect in the virtual world.

 

The “Ready Player One” vision of the metaverse isn’t quite here yet. For one, adoption hasn’t reached a tipping point yet, but it won’t be long. Today’s consumers are now used to moving into new platforms every few years and the metaverse will follow a similar trend of other platforms: younger people will start, but soon their parents will follow, then their parent’s friends. Instagram was the domain of the youthful for a long time, then its users expanded; for TikTok that process was much faster some of the most vibrant TikTok hashtags belong to GenX, and they’re in their 50’s already. The metaverse is coming, tomorrow’s brand will be there.

As a digitally forward PR firm, we can help you maximize the digital world. Give us a call. 

Tech PR needs to be reinvented. Telling a great tech story today differs from what it used to be.

For the past 15 years, tech has been leading much of the conversation, so with a few press releases and a TED Talk, an upcoming and coming CEO could set the agenda. Zuck set the “let’s make an interconnected world” agenda. Steve Jobs set the “intuitive design” conversation. And while there is plenty more innovation headed our way – tech itself is no longer the story.

Emerging tech companies need to connect to the conversations their community is having or going to have in an enormous way. Why?

Today’s reporters need stories that capture the moment, not navel-gaze into the future. 90% of tech writers are curious about backend technology, but won’t write about it. Most outlets only have one tech reporter, that poor person receives over 500 pitches per day and an uncomfortable number of them are still using buzz words like “innovative”, “disruptive”, and the worst of them all, “unique.” These words now cause journalists to glaze over because they’re so overused and increasingly unbelievable. The question comes down to “WHY?”

 

So if Tech Itself is No Longer the Story…What Is?

Technology companies need to tell stories about how they’re connecting to the stories consumers are watching. Great tech stories often start with core values and it isn’t just consumers who want to know more about how you’re solving the world’s actual problems, it’s investors too – 88% of institutional investors are evaluating ESG (environmental, social, governance) with the same scrutiny they give operations and finance.

Let’s look at what people are searching for on Google:

emerging tech trends

2023 Emerging Tech Trends

How to Tell a Tech Story today

2021 Emerging Topics

Look how emerging tech doesn’t even register compared to climate change and racism. There are far more reporters covering these emerging trends than the tech itself. Tying your tech story into the zeitgeist, that’s where tech companies become indelible.

Here at Avaans, we write a lot about purpose, what it is and why it’s important to fast-growing companies. Even though we are a boutique firm, we have guiding principles as well.

That’s because not only does a clear purpose give the company and the brand extra internal fortitude, but it allows consumers to connect with your storytelling on a deeper level.

Regardless of stage of growth, having purpose is the path to longevity and a connected customer base. It’s also a great launching pad for purpose-driven PR.

Digging deep to find these stories may take some time and candor about corporate culture – but these are the stories that stick. These are the stories that create memorable brands. You can’t start telling this story too early.

 

What Makes a Great Tech Story Today?

Every story needs to be:
Relevant
Inevitable
Believable
Simple

As you look at these components, you may think about how your technology fits into these buckets; resist that urge for a moment.

The first two are the lowest hanging fruit, the last two can take years. Take, for example, Salesforce. When they wanted to grow, they made a simple but audacious claim: the end of software. Establishing relevance and the inevitability of tomorrow’s cloud-based world were the simple parts. Notice how they made that claim about the user, the client, not themselves, and it was simple. The stories about how this changes business and the world are immeasurable. But, Caryn Marooney who worked with Salesforce during those early days says “it still took us years to establish true believability,”.

Set your expectations accordingly. Expect to get two to three of those messages across in the early stages. As you grow, as you show more credibility, and as trust between your company and the media increases, “Believeable” will come. Trust isn’t something manufactured in a boardroom, trust is earned.

Today, Salesforce continues to tell stories relevant to their customers and the media that aren’t about technology. Salesforce recently claimed that the “Salesforce economy will create 9.3 million jobs and $1.6 trillion in new business revenues.” The white paper is chock full of bite-sized data that an entire story can be built around the new economy, what this means in today’s labor shortage, the threads are endless and the study gives legs to talking points that can last a year.

 

The Case for Tech Storytelling Over Trade Shows

Let’s be clear – we’re big fans of tech tradeshows and conferences. Many a product has gotten media from its standout strategies at CES for example. But the coverage around CES, like any tradeshow, is diluted and noisy. Reporters at conferences are looking for clickable headlines: they want big dollars, ticker symbols, known brands.  At tech trade shows you need to stand out with remarkable, word-of-mouth activations, to give extra lift to your story – or you’ll probably share the story with 1 or 2 competitors. Sure, a trade show can give you a lift, and it can be an excellent place to connect with the media – but you simply can not rely on a trade show to do all the heavy lifting. We so often see companies make a trade show their launch or the key message for an inordinate amount of time. The fact is, trade shows give a temporary boost, but great tech storytelling goes on for decades. 

Here’s more good news: the more simple your key message, the longer your tech storytelling will last. Counter-intuitively, simple messages last longer and provide more room for interpretation.

 

A colleague of mine once asked “Why does everyone want to go viral (with their content), I want to go cancer with my content, I want it to last a long time and fight to stay,” Tech storytelling is the same, tapping into current media trends and the mindset of the customer. Core values, Purpose, a solid mission, and knowing your next 3 steps will ensure your tech story starts out great. 

If you’re looking for a tech PR agency that goes the distance with you to find the great tech stories of today and tomorrow, then drop us a note, we’d love to dig deep with you too.

 

When the economy is unpredictable, it’s challenging to plan. Yet, plan you must. Even when you love your PR and marketing agency, during these times, it’s tempting to cut marketing and PR budgets. I know both sides of this fence. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 75% of my career, including during 9/11, The Great Recession, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Having witnessed the fallout from slashed budgets, I’ve learned that taking your foot off the gas doesn’t slow the engine. It kills it. You can’t eliminate marketing and increase sales. What you DO need to do is shift marketing strategies. These 4 ways to save on your agency budget will ensure you gain or maintain valuable market share while reducing marketing and PR agency fees

If you like your marketing or PR agency, keep them. You can negotiate with your existing agency; hiring a new agency has hidden costs. Eliminating a well-oiled, top-rated agency will cost you productivity and results when you need it most. If things are going well, check out our advice from leading agency owners about reducing your agency budgets. If you’re hiring a new agency, these tips will help you get off to a great start and a budget that allows for growth while you work efficiently with your new agency.

 

1. Content: Make It Sticky

When times are good, brands with ambitious goals do whatever they can to get meaningful results faster. But if you’re reducing budgets, you should focus on the longer-lasting things. As a colleague of mine once said, “I don’t know why everyone wants to go viral. I want my content to be cancer. I want it to stick around and be hard to get rid of.” This is the mindset to be in when trying to reduce costs.

Two types of media stick around forever: owned media and earned media. Your owned media is any channel you control, where create 100% of the content, like your blog or your email marketing. Your earned media appears on channels you don’t control or create, think magazine articles, and (organic) reviews.

Blog posts and earned media are the superglue of sticky marketing and PR levers. Because they DO last so long, and they are customer-facing, these are excellent areas to focus your PR agency on. The ROI will pay dividends now and in the future. 

There’s a third blend of content emerging – and that’s contributed content. Sometimes there are fees associated with contributed content, and it always goes through editorial control, but it is a highly credible way for you to (mostly) control the messaging. This type of content has another advantage: thought leadership. Activating your thought leadership is key to its stickiness.

But longevity is only one benefit of this content; repurposing is another. For example, blog posts that are listicles are excellent SEO boosters, and you can use a listicle to generate many social media posts, same with an article that includes your product.

You want your stickiest content to be the best quality. If you’re reducing your budgets in other areas, now is not the time to hire an untested blogger referred to you by your nephew. Now is the time to focus your budget on doing what you do well. Very well.

Highly useful, sticky content is the most valuable and should be a budget priority.

2. Strategically Reduce the Scope

Chances are your agency is providing you with a suite of services. Instead of eliminating high-value output, focus your budget on those items to reduce your scope.

Take a deeper look at what your agency did this year that worked for you. How did they excel? While you’re asking yourself this question, think about it in the “Make it Sticky” content but also in the areas where narrowing in on the scope would provide outsized value.

One way to secure high-value PR is product-driven PR and bringing thought leadership and awards programs in-house, or vice-versa. 

Another idea, instead of working with 15 different micro-influencers, you work with one on a strategic year-long campaign. Maybe your branding company could produce long-form content only and you can craft social media posts in-house.

Instead of a campaign every quarter, work with your agency to develop one excellent, well-thought-out campaign throughout the year and focus your efforts on making that campaign exceptional. This brings me to my final recommendation. 

Another area that can save your money is fewer meetings with your agency. While meetings are essential, especially early in the relationship, this area could drive some savings if you’ve been with your agency for a while. 

3. Plan Ahead

Nothing is more expensive than last-minute. If you’re reducing your budget, planning can save you a lot of money. For example, if you’re planning on a video shoot, secure your videographers and editors well in advance with a solid deposit and you’ll find it easier to negotiate the rate.

The same goes for your agency contract. Sign early regardless of whether it’s a new-to-you agency or one you’ve had for a while. Signing early gives you an edge in negotiation. If you like your agency and you will commit to a longer term, you’ll be able to command better rates, and even lock in “economic downturn” rates for two years.

Press releases can be purchased in bulk as well. So if you’re planning on several announcements, if you buy in advance, you can save thousands of dollars. 

4. Strategy: When They Zig, You Should Zag

To save money and get more bang for your buck, redefine your calendar. Shy away from the dates and times of the year when your competitor is most likely to do something, and instead select a campaign period when you can own the conversation.

Alternatively, re-thing your share of voice KPI. When dominance is your key strategy, you want to track it against your biggest aspirational competitors. If simply staying present is your goal, track your share of voice against a competitor nipping at your heels, one who is your peer and one who is aspirational. For your aspirational competitors, your strategy should be to cede some of your share of voice so you can squeeze in on your competitor’s territory. For your peers, you want to maintain equal, if not better, footing, and for the one nipping at your heels, you want to own the conversation so they don’t squeeze in on yours.

5. Maximize Partnerships and Internal Initiatives

Now is a great time to double down on successful partnerships or find new ways to align for new partnerships. Be creative in the ways you align, and you may be able to create a news worthy story just by creating a collaboration. Another way to maximize your budget is to turn your storytelling focus on highly valued stories the media is already writing about, like purpose-driven initiatives. These types of stories are much easier to get a lift on than the traditional “thought leadership” strategy that most of your competitors will flock to.

Reducing your agency costs doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Working WITH your agency to find the sweet spot for your specific needs can be an excellent exercise in creativity. By shifting strategies, outcomes, and outputs, you can find the sweet spot that keeps your marketing and PR on track even during cost-cutting seasons.