Public Relations Reputation Management Financial Services Protect

Navigating Regulatory Waters: Friend or Food? How To Stay Ahead in Financial Services

The following content is part of our fortnightly newsletter eDMs "Take A Beat Thursday" and was originally sent out on February 8th. If you'd like to join the list and get these in...

Public Relations Financial Services

Maximise your PR Partnership: 5 Tips for Successful Collaboration

Ah, the corporate dilemma – should we handle our public relations in-house or hire an agency? And... if we do hire an agency, how can we get the best results from that investment? ...



As Australia heads into its first recession in 30 years, businesses are moving from business-as-usual to crisis management. Many are asking themselves “How do I recession-proof my business?”. When planning to get through leaner times, the impulse response is often the wrong one however – for example, many cut costs everywhere possible, but research shows this often isn’t your best strategy for survival.

The first cost in the firing line is often communications – public relations, marketing, advertising and sales enablement. But if you are considering pausing or cutting your integrated communications budget, make sure you have balanced medium and long-term survival needs with short-term pressures. Is cutting your budget completely the best strategy for a recession?

COVID-19 has brought about some of the toughest times in recent history, but as famous American author and televangelist Dr Robert Schuller once said, “tough times never last but tough people do”.

While there are several key learnings to take away from Schuller’s book, perhaps the most applicable one for today’s circumstance is that every problem has a limited lifespan, and that by focusing on the core of that problem, we can identify the opportunity.

For example, if revenue growth is stalling or contracting, rather than engaging in what can sometimes be a knee-jerk and unsophisticated cost-cutting exercise, which often disproportionately impacts marketing and communication departments, instead try to focus more on refining marketing output and aligning this output more closely to revenue-raising initiatives.

This might mean reducing spend on above-the-line advertising or other large-scale brand building campaigns and substituting it for a targeted and measurable lead generation program that is measurable against ROI metrics.

A balancing act

Every business will have its own mix of marketing and communication activity to consider and evaluate however, finding the right equilibrium between immediate short-term cost cutting and maintaining a long-term growth plan can position businesses more favourably when economic conditions begin to normalise.

Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that businesses which cut costs faster and deeper than their rivals had the lowest probability (21%) of pulling ahead of their competition when the economy normalised after the GFC. On the contrary, businesses that invested their way through a recession didn’t necessarily outperform their peers either (26%).

Interestingly, the research revealed that organisations which employed strategies incorporating an amalgamation of offensive and defensive tactics, including increased spending on R&D and integrated marketing and communication efforts, were better able to increase profits and sales substantially after the recession had passed. These businesses were also able to modestly grow them during the recession as well.

Four simple steps to create a leaner integrated marketing program


It can seem overwhelming to review your entire marcomms program after much investment in strategy setting. Break it down into components for a simple approach to analysing whether each aspect, from foundations to tactics, is still optimal for the current environment:

Step 1: Make integrated marketing measurable
  • Determine what your measurable key business objectives are
  • Determine what your measurable marketing and communication objectives are
  • Ensure both objectives are aligned and interlinked
  • Quantify what your targets are and over what period
Step 2: Define your buyer persona
  • Identify your target market and your target persona
  • Ask yourself – what does this persona like, what do they need and what are the issues they face right now?
Step 3: Plan your outreach approach
  • Determine which channels you will use to reach your audience
  • Determine how you will use these channels independently and together
  • Determine your spend on each channel and the expected ROI
Step 4: Plan and execute your outreach approach
  • Develop your integrated marketing and communication strategy
  • Ensure that your strategy is aligned with your business objectives
  • Measure and optimise


The long view

Savvy business leaders will understand that a pragmatic and forward-looking response to a crisis can ensure that short-term survival needs are achieved without jeopardising long-term growth needs – because long-term growth needs are also survival needs, just in the future.

As integrated marketing specialists, we advocate for having long-term contingency plans in place and we always recommend that these plans, which include marketing and communication activities, are scalable and easily adjustable to respond to changing market conditions.

While nobody knows how long this current crisis will last, what we do know is that by pivoting to a smarter, leaner and more integrated marketing program, short-term cost-cutting can be undertaken without putting your longer-term growth aspirations at risk.

BlueChip's Chief Executive Danielle Stitt explains why investing in digital marketing and comms is crucial during a recession and how organisations should market to ensure they flourish both during and after a recession.


Watch now

If you’d like to discuss adjusting your communications strategy for the current times, please call us or fill out our contact form here.


Gulati, R., Nohria, N. and Wohlgezogen, F., 2020. Roaring Out Of Recession. [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: <> [Accessed 12 August 2020]. 
how to drive your fame agenda
New call-to-action

Stay up
to date

Marketing insights you’ll want to read.

Sign up for our newsletter

Stay up
to date

Marketing insights you’ll want to read.

Sign up for our newsletter