6 ways to prevent 2021 budget cuts

Show off data that supports crucial business goals, reference the competition, and don’t be shy about using freelancers.


Many comms teams are expecting to make budget cuts for 2021.

Protecting your budget is a matter of helping executives see the value and cost-effectiveness of marketing.

If you need to defend your budget, listen to your leadership team’s concerns. Then decide which of the following strategies will resonate.

1. Show off the data. Pull up the data from recent successful campaigns. Numbers don’t lie. Quantify the worth of what your team does and the impact they have on the wider company, including the bottom line.

Include metrics tied to customer acquisition and employee retention in your report. For example:

  • Monthly subscriber growth
  • Monthly recurring revenue
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Engagement rate
  • Return on investment

2. Suggest cuts elsewhere. If cuts are necessary, look for other areas where they can be made. Look first for wasteful operations spending. For example, could you eliminate printing and mailing costs by going paperless? Or, could you cut software costs by removing users or going to a smaller plan?

3. Reference the competition. Compare your budget with that of your competitors. Are they making cuts, or are they doubling down? If you make cuts while they increase their communications and marketing spend, you may lose new or existing customers (and employees) to them.

Put together a forecast, and compare trends in your company’s market share to its past spend. Chances are, periods of higher marketing spend are also those in which you saw the most growth.

4. Look at your yearly goals. Your company has annual goals for its revenue, profit, or customer base. What steps do you need to take to meet those targets? Would cuts to your budget help or hurt your chances at achieving them?

If successful comms is key to achieving what you hope to accomplish, you can’t afford to make cuts. In fact, many business advisors try to warn  companies from cutting their marketing and communication department in tough times. Those that do risk deepening holes they’ll need to climb out.

5. Take the long view. The COVID-19 pandemic looks a lot like the Great Recession of 2008. Consumers clamped down on spending for a time, but demand bounced back stronger than ever. Giving consumers extra help will keep them loyal. Penning a helpful e-book, putting on a physical event like a food drive, or simply offering a discount can reflect well on your brand.

6. Lean on freelancers. When you need to fill one-time needs or specific campaigns that your team can’t handle, outsource those tasks to freelancers. Freelancers can be up to 30% cheaper to work with than traditional employees, and they allow your team members to spend their time on something with higher impact.

And regardless of what happens to your budget, a freelancer’s reduced labor costs can make it go nearly a third further.

Whatever happens, put your budget to good use, and make sure your leadership team sees the results. Increasing your messaging efficiency and efficacy will help your business not just now, but well into the future. And that’s an argument most business leaders can get behind.

Tiffany Delmore is the co-founder and CMO of SchoolSafe, a company helping to develop safer educational environments. Read more of her work at MediaPost.


One Response to “6 ways to prevent 2021 budget cuts”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    You are likely to get more support for PR from employees, customers and your management by having the company DO more for employees and customers. Judge whether you will earn well-deserved gratitude—from employees, customers and your management—by suggesting that employees and customers be made fractional stockholders!

    Genuine stock certificates showing number of fractional shares held can be issued annually to employees based on years of employment, and when earned to customers based on mailed-in boxtops or other proof-of-purchases.

    Newly-made stockholders, even if they have just a few percent of a share, will enjoy not only owning more and more of the company but also feel pride in (a) your online progress reports about company research and product development, (b) your online “what we are accomplishing together” reports about good causes the company is supporting with annual donations, (c) company success shown by growth in sales and earnings (which becomes “how WE are succeeding”) and (d) other good news you abstract quarterly in your news releases.

    In truth your management, employees and customers are in a way parts of the same group, people who are better off when the company is better off. Many of these people will support your Washington objectives with mail to congress and cabinet secretaries. Politicians and activists will be less likely to attack the company when the number of stockholders becomes more huge.

    It’s not the main objective but you may be delighted to start receiving calls and mail from headhunters for other companies whose question is “can you do this for us”? You may become more a center of interest at PR Daily and Ragan leadership courses and meetings. And importantly, you may more fully accomplish your objective of getting the PR budget you need to do the PR job you can do.

PR Daily News Feed

Sign up to receive the latest articles from PR Daily directly in your inbox.