There are a number of ways PR should be supporting your business growth and should not necessarily be seen as an expense to your business, not least in the midst of a cost of living crisis.
Times are tough and 2024, whilst reported to show signs of slight growth in the UK, will by no means see the return to the heady investment of 2022. So as PRs, we should be looking at every way to help our clients not just grow their profile and generate awareness, but also ensure they are generating leads and saving costs for the business. If 2023 has taught us anything, it’s to optimise in every way and deliver more for less.
One such area is recruitment. It surprised me this year when I heard a tech client still working with recruiters to hire positions despite having pressure on budgets across the business. The average cost of a hire is stated as £3,000 but in exec hires in the tech space we know this can be toppy at anything up to 30% of a senior salary, so ten times this amount, plus. It’s an expensive business. Of course, there are many variants of recruiting staff, platforms like Talent Works for example, or in-house teams, depending on flexibility and scale.
PR can absolutely help with hiring needs. If we take my agency as an example, we’ve managed to grow for ten years with only two recruitment agency-placed hires. What you want is the candidates to come to you because of what they’ve read or seen about you, on whatever channel that might be. It’s like advertising versus PR all over again. You’re so much more likely to believe in a brand you discover yourself, which seems to resonate with your values, and everyone is more likely to get off on the right foot.
Much has been written about the Employer Value Proposition (EVP) or Employer Brand, and on a large scale, it can be a very valuable, but timely, and sometimes expensive, exercise. But for small businesses or scale-ups hiring, your PR should support you with the same mission. To continue the example of our own business, after making the decision to no longer invest in recruitment fees, we opted to first write a lot of content to help SEO and get the website (and careers page) more easily found and populated our social channels with engaging content. Almost needless to say, LinkedIn has been a huge help in alerting candidates to our job positions; but of course, regular PR of new divisions, client wins or unusual perks has done the rest. A BBC News piece on giving staff a bonus when utility costs soared saw a great influx of candidates.
As for helping a brand, a positive PR announcement for a b2b tech company, which received 30 industry placements, resulted in an approach from a much-needed CMO who had picked up on the news on his channels. This candidate not only reached the company directly, but was already impressed by the company’s performance, and eager to be a part of a thriving business.
So, as we approach next year with some apprehension around planning budget investment, brands should think of PR not just as part of the marketing mix, but as a support to other areas of the business too.
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