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UK businesses are preparing to ramp up their PR and marketing activity with almost half of marketers and business leaders planning to increase their promotional spend in the second half of 2021.
These are the findings of a survey conducted by Clearly PR in the week to 6th May 2021. The 107 respondents, who consisted of marketing professionals and executives with responsibility for their organisation’s promotional budgets, were asked how the pandemic has impacted their PR and marketing and their intentions for the remainder of 2021.
When asked, ‘Over the last 12 months, has your marketing and PR spend changed?’, 38 per cent stated they maintained their predetermined levels on investment, 28 per cent put a hold on all promotional spending, 15 per cent reduced their budgets, and 20 per cent went the opposite way and increased their spend.
We then asked, ‘Will your promotional spend change in the next six to seven months?’ to which 36 per cent said there would be no change in what they have already committed to, 21 per cent plan to reduce their PR and marketing spend, but 44 per cent have either confirmed that they will be increasing their budgets (14 per cent) or ‘expect’ to do so (30 per cent).
Whilst recognising the dramatic changes experienced by organisations since the beginning of the pandemic, and with it a change in consumer habits and influences on their purchasing decisions, we were keen to understand if this has prompted a shift in terms of where brands and businesses will be focusing their budgets?
In terms of priority, social media marketing (42 per cent) and paid-for social advertising (19 per cent) ranked as the areas of greatest importance for marketers over the next six months. This was followed by PR and corporate communications (29 per cent), newsletters (17 per cent), thought leadership content (16 per cent), research and whitepapers (16 per cent), podcasts (12 per cent) and video content (9 per cent). Interestingly, 11 per cent plan to rebrand over the next six months.
Commenting on the findings, Founder & Managing Director at Clearly said: “It was inevitable that changes to the way in which brands and businesses market themselves and communicate with their audiences would take place. We just didn’t know how this would manifest itself in practice.
11% of businesses plan to undergo a rebrand before the end of 2021, and almost 1 in 3 will spend more on PR and corporate comms this year
“It was encouraging to see a relatively high number of businesses either maintaining their promotional spend and even increasing it during the height of the pandemic – lessons from the last recession would appear to have been learned by many leaders and marketers who will have seen how damaging it can be for those businesses who go into self-isolation mode until the storm passes.
“Looking forwards towards the second half of this year, the results of our survey point to a clear plan for growth among businesses, with four-fifths of intending to increase investment in their brand’s PR and marketing or at the very least maintain existing levels of spend.”
The survey also looked into whether the nature of those responsible for the PR and marketing within organisations had changed or not over the last 12 months. Accordingly, there had been no change for 55 per cent of businesses, but 1 in 10 had taken the decision to appoint an external PR agency and 22 per cent opted to bring their PR and marketing function inhouse.
The two biggest areas of investment for brands and businesses between June-December will be in content marketing and communications
“The tightening of budgets in 2020 saw a number of organisations opt to switch from working with external agency partners in favour of bringing the PR function inhouse in a bid to streamline their operations. This is totally understandable,” said Paul MacKenzie-Cummins.
“However, with the number of organisations planning to boost their promotional spend in the coming months we anticipate a sharp rise in PR and marketing agencies being appointed by brands to help get them seen, read and heard by the audiences that matter most.”