Why Maintaining a Strong Media Presence is Key to Succeeding in an Economic Downturn

Companies are announcing mass layoffs due to the current economic climate to increase their runways and cut spend, with many significantly cutting their marketing departments. However, instead of completely eliminating marketing efforts, companies should shift their marketing strategies to focus on earned and owned media coverage as more affordable and effective alternatives to paid advertising.

By Zach Cutler

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Inflation has been hitting the economy hard, with governments worldwide attempting to deter it by raising interest rates, which has, in turn, led to big-name companies across all sectors, such as Amazon, Goldman Sachs, and FedEx, to announce mass layoffs to cut their spending.

Many of the current layoffs are occurring in marketing departments, which were greatly expanded across industries over the past several years in light of the world opening up from lockdown. Besides layoffs, other cost-saving measures are being implemented in marketing, with 30% of advertisers cutting their budgets and approximately 60% of small and medium-sized businesses either slashing their marketing budgets or keeping them where they are.

However, as opposed to cutting marketing efforts, I believe that companies of all sizes should instead change their strategies to focus more on earned media coverage to keep their businesses in the public eye at a fraction of the cost of paid media. Here are a few reasons why.

Saving big with earned and owned media

Paying for ad impressions online or on TV is expensive, so, understandably, businesses looking to save are pointing at their marketing spend and deciding it needs to be cut. This is why companies should simply change their marketing strategy to focus more on earned and owned media. These media are much more affordable and effective when executed well.

For instance, as opposed to paying for sponsored content or ad space, all that needs to be done to achieve earned media results is to have someone who's already on your marketing team send a story idea to a journalist or influencer and explain why your organization or someone in your C-Suite would be the perfect candidate to shed light on a trending subject. Or, you can have someone on your team write a compelling blog or social media post to drive engagement and give you better control of how to spread your message.

This not only turns your company into a thought leader in the industry but also keeps you in the public eye. And best of all, you don't need to pay a journalist or influencer to cover your company! That's why it's called earned media.

Related: Why Earned Media Is the Best Way to Earn Your Reputation

Out of sight, out of mind

One of the reasons getting rid of a marketing department during a recession is so shortsighted is because people don't think about your company if you aren't putting it right in their face. And if people aren't thinking about your company, people aren't buying from your company.

However, it's possible to stay in the eye of your target market by using earned media to get your company quoted or talked about in an industry, news publication or blog. While they may be seeing fewer banner ads from you on social media or TV, your company will get the mentions it needs to have the right people keep you in mind and keep coming back to you for their needs.

Related: 6 Proven Business Marketing Strategies to Grow During a Recession

Brand trust and loyalty

It costs approximately five times more to acquire new customers than to retain current ones. One of the most important factors as to whether customers will continue to purchase a product or service from a company during an economic downturn is whether the organization has their trust and loyalty. There's no better way to earn this credibility than by being quoted or featured in a local, national or even international publication, which is precisely what earned media coverage is designed for.

Going dark in terms of media presence, both mainstream and social, may signal to clients and investors that your company isn't stable and that the lights in your office may also go dark. Therefore, trust and loyalty are vital to instilling consumer confidence in your organization's long-term stability, which drives sales and will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Remember, the 2008 recession was driven by a lack of consumer confidence on a macro scale — don't let your company fail because of a collapse in consumer confidence on the micro.

Related: How to Get Media Coverage for Your Brand

Blood, sweat and tears

With all that being said, earned media can be challenging to obtain. After all, you aren't paying for a guarantee that your company will be mentioned. Rather, you have to earn it — and there will be some hurdles along the way. For instance, journalists and bloggers may be slow to respond (or perhaps not respond at all), and figuring out how your company can be positioned to portray itself as an expert in its field requires creativity along with a significant amount of time and effort. And with owned media, you need to ensure that people will organically see and share your message.

But as long as your company can stick with it and continue to push for opportunities, the benefits earned and owned media can provide are immense. They are ways to enable your target audience to see your company as standing on a strong foundation in this turbulent economic climate.

Zach Cutler

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman at Propel

Zach Cutler is a comms veteran and technologist on a mission to innovate the public relations industry. He created Propel, which is the fastest growing media-intelligence and PR software in the world.

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