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What I would be budgeting for in 2020 if I were a brand-side PR manager


Last week, the PR Daily folks released survey findings from a recent survey among comms types about 2020 budgeting (nice work, Ted Kitterman and team!). Timely, right? Not surprisingly (at least to this consultant), most PRs said budgets will remain flat in 2020. I don’t disagree.

Where it gets interesting, though, is when the PR Daily team asked PR where they would increase budgets if money were no object.

Among the areas where PRs said they would spend more:

  • Video and visual comms
  • Social media
  • Additional writers
  • Marketing

I will never argue with the idea of adding more visual communicators and writers to your team. Those are two huge needs in the year ahead–especially given the burgeoning needs of the storification of the social web.

But, I also see a few obvious areas where I would definitely add budget. If I were a brand-side PR leader, I would be bolstering my budgets in the following areas–and here’s why:

  • Video AND audio production. I just read a social media trend post yesterday that claimed 50% of brands would start or plan to start a podcast in 2020. 50%! While I think that number is very high, it’s also indicative of where we’re at in 2019. Yes, video storytelling is at an all-time high in terms of interest. But, so is audio. I would invest in finding either people who could do both–or, add audio production to my list.
  • Data analysts. I was actually shocked not to see some representation of this key skill set on the list. Because it’s imperative to our success as communicators. And, to building credibility with the C-suite. We need to bolster our data mining and analytical skills if we’re to get that coveted “seat at the table.” I’d be doubling down on finding resources that could help me measure, track and analyze every piece of data we had. And, then I’d double down again.
  • Senior-level social content. I know, the survey did say “additional writer” and “brand journalism” were near the top of the list. But, I’d be more specific. I’d want more senior-level content specialists on my team–either in-house or contract. Why senior-level? Because they understand the nuances of social content vs. more traditional content. And, because “senior” means 10-15+ years experience, they’ve also been around long enough to understand how the whole puzzle works. I’d want more people like that on my team.
  • Professional development. This is a glaring omission. And, sadly, far too common in our industry. We need to invest in our talent people. We need to give team members the opportunity to attend conferences (and not just conferences in our home towns!). We need to give team members the chance to get trained on new skills (not just asking them to teach themselves!). And, we need to give team members the resources they need to grow professionally. Judging from what I hear from friends in our industry, largely, this isn’t happening. Sure, some agencies are doing a nice job here. But what about the rest of us? This starts with annual planning. Budget for professional development. Or, risk losing your best talent in the years ahead.

That’s what I’d invest in if I were a PR manager. What about you? What are you budgeting more for in the year ahead?



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