How to make your comms budget go further
If you are among the 79% with static or shrinking resources, here are 12 tips to make your IC budget go further.
Employee communications budgets are often skimpy at the best of times. Only 21% of communicators expect their budgets to increase in the next 12 months, according to the latest Gatehouse State of the Sector Report.
12 tips to make your IC budget go further
Ask what can be achieved for a lower, fixed price. A major British corporation recently invited me to a town hall meeting of suppliers. We were given detailed information on the company’s performance; then asked to consider ways of helping the organisation make significant cost savings. It was a smart move. Let your suppliers do the hard work for you. The right ones will participate willingly – they want a relationship that survives in good times and bad.
Pay less in exchange for an extended contract term. If your agency knows their work is guaranteed for a longer fixed period, it may be able – and willing – to reduce its rates.
Ask for a volume discount. Here’s the deal – the more work you give your favourite agency, the bigger rebate they give you at the end of the year. This is beneficial to both parties.
Run a pilot. If you cannot afford a comprehensive rollout of an initiative, run a pilot in a single region or team. Use this experience to build the business case for a budget increase.
Think differently when resourcing your team. There are many ways to boost your team’s capacity without recruiting full-time, permanent members of staff. AB embeds people in a clients’ team to cover peak periods of activity.
Find another home for low value work. An external provider might be better taking on repetitive or administrative tasks, leaving you and your team to focus on more added value activities.
Share resources and budgets. Perhaps colleagues in other departments – media relations, marketing, investor relations or parliamentary affairs –would benefit from joining forces on a communications project and thereby spread the cost.
Commission photography and film cleverly. Shooting imagery and film adds to the cost of any project. If you have a videographer or photographer booked for an event, ask them to capture generic stock shots or library footage at the same time.
Use multi-skilled professionals. AB’s journalists shoot and edit video, as well as research and write copy. Our designers create publications for print and screen. Our consultants are experts in both internal and external communications. Skilled, multi-disciplinary professionals tend to be cost effective due to their speed, agility and care.
Use a limited budget to drive innovation. Imagine you have 50% less to spend on this year’s engagement survey. Rather than run a cheaper version of last year’s survey, start afresh with a blank sheet of paper. Ask a group of trusted experts to brainstorm an entirely new solution. A restrictive budget can be impetus for sharper, smarter thinking.
Compare the market and the (hidden) costs. Since AB was founded in 1964, IC budgets have rarely matched those for external communication. This means, like the best agencies in our field, we have learned how to make a little go a long way. If you are in any doubt whether you are getting value for money, benchmark your suppliers with others. Keep an eagle eye on ‘variable’ or ‘below the line’ costs. These could become nasty surprises later.
Get something for nothing. When writing From Cascade to Conversation I was amazed by how many people were willing to share their experiences and expertise without a penny changing hands. Cultivate relationships with professionals who are passionate about what they do and generous with what they know.