Time to Start Pitching a Recession?

An interesting article in the New York Times today - Is It a Recession? Marketers Seem to Think So - highlights how that the marketing industry is ramping up spending, even if this might be a recession (and, well, we cannot say we are in a recession yet, according to statistics).

According to the article:
The willingness of Madison Avenue to act as if a recession is under way may seem confusing, because advertisers usually reduce their spending during downturns. Over all, ad outlays have fallen in previous recessions — 6.5 percent in 2001 compared with 2000 and 1.2 percent in 1991 compared with 1990.

However, many marketers spend the same — or even more — during hard times as they do during booms, on thetheory that they must make sure to be remembered by any consumers who are still shopping.
Now, it does not seem to be that way for PR - we are the misunderstood stepchild that seems to get cut - but it does bring up a good point: the media loves a story, so how are you tying up your client into a recession pitch or story? We know from the dotcom bust, that the age of social media really was born (all those out of work geeks, and they had to have some outlet). Will that be true this (potential) slow down? Will there be an increase in social media content because people have more time because they are out of work? If that is true, will there be an increase of blogs taking advertising (look at how Scoble is now taking ads - welcome to the world of professional content, Robert, and being part of a real media property) - and will these people spurn public relations and pull the "Eddie, what have you done for me lately (3:00 minutes in)" line and ask for compensation?

Rainy NYC

Yes, I think more people will turn to social media. I think blogs, mostly, and most likely part of large networks such as BlogHer and niches that are of greater interest to the individual, and less vanity. It will be part of a differentiator (but not as much of one) for the new job. And, yes, there will be more advertising as online ads are cheap ... and it will hurt those of us that do blog relations.

But, anyway, back to the post at hand: what are you doing for a recession pitch? The media loves the story right now, and while PR tends to tie itself to any meme out there with a tenuous link, there are opportunities here. It is about being smart, though, and having a real tie to a story. A friend of mine has a company that has a great story that can tie into the recession ... and that was my advice to him. He has two stories that can fit into the potential economics, from both sides of his service: the people that will make up the service, and the people that will use his service. The stories are quite different - how to make money, and how to save money - but they can tie into the economy.

So, what is your story?



  1. I like your correlation between economic hardship and the resulting boom of social media, then and now. Also, you're right on about the timeliness of pitching clients in relation to the impending recession.

  2. Great post; there are a lot of moving parts to this issue. First, and to your point, public relations pros shouldn’t be calling the current economic climate a recession. Newspaper definitions of recession vary slightly from one outlet to the next but generally refer to two or more consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. Over the last few years, GDP growth has been positive from quarter to quarter. (This definition is roundly dismissed by economists but is nevertheless good enough for some newspapers.)

    One way I would first look to drive PR activity as a likely recession looms in the near future is really a no-brainer – use big clients’ chief economist as an expert on the broad national economy. If your client is in the retail or personal finance sectors, even better, as those areas relate directly to personal income, spending, and similar stories.

    On a trade press level, I would seek to place opinion pieces or contributed articles about how economic activity affects that industry. I’m working on two such pieces for executives at a large, global manufacturing company.

    To penetrate national press, I would double time spent scanning the news, looking for the next breaking story about unemployment, consumer spending, or currency valuation, these being econ-centric stories with mainstream-media appeal. There are more-esoteric issues out there that are begging to be written about, such as the accounting methods used to calculate national debt in the first place.

    I don’t think a recession’s affect on new media would be as linear as: recession  unemployment  time spend bollocking around on social media sites. I think the elections will drive social media activity higher in 2008, and that activity will decline naturally and plateau when an economic recession hits in 2009.

  3. these topic is interesting it gaves mo insight more about PR. are there anymore topics related on these one? let me know im interested if knot i like to read more sooner or later

    Thanks and have a nice day