Justifying an increase in your 2011 comms budget

Back-to-school time also means budget planning time at work. Thanks to the constant evolution of digital communications, you actually have reasons to ask for more money in 2011.

Back-to-school time also means budget planning time at work. Thanks to the constant evolution of digital communications, you actually have reasons to ask for more money in 2011.

In determining what's missing from your budget, start with these three questions:

1. Do you know what's being said about you online?

Companies that operate under the “ignorance is bliss” policy when it comes to monitoring their brand online do so at their peril. The best crisis communications plan mitigates a crisis before it gets far, and that requires knowing what's being said as soon as it's said. On the flip side, connecting with people who are saying positive things about your brand is an essential component to building an online community.

Bottom line: There's no excuse for not regularly managing your brand online – get it into your communications plan and budget.

2. Are you taking people where you want them to go?

Whether you're trying to get people to your website or your Facebook page, digital advertising is now a key part of PR and communications. We are long past the days of people finding a website just because you built it. In addition to more robust and flexible advertising models on social networking sites, new tools like digital media verification further reduce the risk associated with online advertising by providing a report to advertisers if a vendor mistakenly places an ad that's incongruent with the media plan.

Bottom line: People will not hear your message just because you put it on your website. Use digital advertising to drive them there.

3. Do you know where your employees are online?

Guilt by association is never fair, but it can happen when your employees misbehave online – and the damage can happen quickly. If you don't already have a corporate social media policy in the works, start now. Your employees are using social media, whether you are or not, and you need to provide them with guidance on how to help build your brand online – or at least not hurt.

Bottom line: Allocate time and resources for 2011, but start immediately.

Dan Solomon is CEO of Virilion.

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