COVID-19 and its ensuing economic woes has demanded that tech startups revise their budgets, specifically when it comes to PR and marketing. 

While now is not the time to go full force with expensive campaigns and costly PR events, PR still holds value for your startup, even during a pandemic. If you are a marketing leader at a tech startup, then you may be wondering how to trim the budget or if you should get rid of it entirely. 

With a little re-strategizing, tightening your startup’s PR budget can prove to be a smart way to deal with the financial weight of the pandemic while maintaining the brand’s engagement and reach. 

Consider content atomization 

When it’s time to scale back on your tech startup’s marketing budget, content atomization is the best way to maximize content without spending more or sacrificing on quality. 

Content atomization essentially means scrapping “one-off content” and instead breaking down larger content pieces into several smaller pieces. For example, if you’ve already prepared an in-depth white paper then you could take different points from the paper and turn them into individual blog posts. You could also pull data from the paper and use it to create engaging infographics.

By utilizing content you already have, you’ll be able to create what feels like fresh and new content without breaking the budget on new research or data analysis. 

Renegotiate agency fee structure

If you are working with an outside tech PR agency, then consider a fee negotiation. It is in their best interest to keep you as a client even if the investment decreases. Check on event marketing fees or other overhead fees previously charged that no longer have a place in a pandemic PR environment. Maybe go with a lower base level engagement and price out other services you may need later on an a la carte basis. These days, many smaller and more agile PR firms are able to flex with tech startups in ways large agencies simply can’t match.

Focus on thought leadership over sales 

In times of crisis people often turn to sources of expertise and leadership. To fill this role, shift your tech startup’s focus from sales or short-term profitability and instead play the long game by providing free information or insight during the pandemic. 

In the long run, the expert status you gain by providing information and positioning your company or its leaders as experts during the crisis will increase publicity and interest over time. That being said, don’t fake expertise and don’t use the environment of crisis to gain attention with an inflammatory media presence. Instead, provide legitimate expert insight, present unique solutions to current problems, ease fears, and emphasize community. 

Cancel your PR database  

This may seem like a minor cost but subscription fees for PR databases can add up. Check on your monthly subscriptions and cut out the ones that you don’t need. 

The simple fact is, much of what you need in terms of media contacts can actually be found by doing some basic online research. Keyword searches and researching past news coverage of your competition can uncover many, if not all, of the most relevant news outlets you should reach out to. Don’t overlook Twitter as it’s a veritable trove of information on media outlets and journalists. Often, when you follow one journalist at a given technology media outlet, other journalists with similar backgrounds will pop up as recommended profiles for you to follow. 

Cut back on the wire

If your tech startup has traditionally used a wire service to boost the reach of news announcements, then consider rethinking that approach. Smaller startups rarely enjoy news coverage from sending wires out anyway. 

PR is a research and relationship game where news pickups happen after you research which journalists are more likely to be interested in your announcement and then courting that journalist over time to secure news coverage in the future. If you either cancel your news wire service completely or at least cut it back by 50% you could save thousands of dollars over the next year.

About Mary Jenkins: Mary is a marketing and communications intern for Swyft, which has been listed as one of the best PR firms in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft recently opened a satellite office where it offers PR in San Francisco.

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