Budgets have been slashed in public sector comms and we have to embrace it

January brings many things, and one important element is reviewing the PR activity that is planned for the year ahead.

There's no money so just embrace it and think differently, argues Amanda Coleman
There's no money so just embrace it and think differently, argues Amanda Coleman

Added to that there are just two months left of the current financial year and traditionally this is a time to spend any excess budget.

Around seven or eight years ago we had a PR campaigns budget of £200,000 and with additional funding one year, our spend topped £1m. This seems like a long time ago and if I was given the same money today I am not sure I would be able to spend it.

Every year we have only £4,000 to use towards PR activity, which makes it a huge challenge to carry out an average of around 50 campaigns each year.

I am still stunned to hear of public sector PR advertising and campaign budgets in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Big budgets do still exist in the public sector and not just for national organisations.


If anyone is facing the thought of losing that big pot of cash and is concerned about the future then take my advice – don’t be. Embrace the change and the opportunity to introduce a new era in your PR campaigns.

Amanda Coleman, director of corporate comms at Greater Manchester Police

I admit that sometimes I am jealous of those with a large purse who can dip into it to support activities.

The planning that we were undertaking this week started from a basis that we had no money, so whatever we decide to do needs to be achieved for free.

It can be a bit daunting, but what it has done is make the team be creative and self-sufficient. They have to look to the resources that we have available from within the team and organisation to support campaigns.

They have to focus on no-cost communication, which usually focuses on effective media relations, maximising digital technology, working in partnership and good old-fashioned face-to-face communication.

In the uncertain world of 2017 with political changes around the world and, closer to home, the impact of Brexit – we can be sure that public sector budgets are not going to increase any time soon.

If anyone is facing the thought of losing that big pot of cash and is concerned about the future then take my advice – don’t be. Embrace the change and the opportunity to introduce a new era in your PR campaigns.

This is a time for PR staff to grasp the future, even if it doesn’t involve a large budget.

Amanda Coleman is director of corporate comms at Greater Manchester Police

 


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