Whether you’re working for an organization big or small, you know that those initiatives that call for a significant business investment require the support of an executive team. To get C-suite approval, it is often necessary to demonstrate why the project is needed and what benefits it will produce when completed. The reasons and benefits of PR initiatives may seem perfectly obvious to you and others on your team; however, it may not be so apparent to decision-makers.
A strong business case can help your proposal stand out amongst many competing priorities within your company and may be the key to securing your brand’s investment in PR. If you’re a communicator tasked with getting budget approval for the PR department, read on to learn how to develop a business case that you can use to get the resources and support you need to achieve your goals.
What is a business case?
A business case is one of the most powerful decision-making tools available to the C-suite.
A business case is a document that outlines the value or benefits your company will gain if you pursue a significant business investment or initiative. This initiative can be anything from a new product launch, to a proposal to increase spend on a branding campaign, or a significant investment with a new agency—to name a few.
Think of it as a sales pitch with robust data and justification. An effective business case will inform the stakeholders about what will happen if they proceed with the investment by clearly explaining the expected benefits, costs and risks.
Why build a business case for PR
A business case is required when current challenges cannot be solved with existing resources, and you need to justify additional investment to develop and execute a solution. If you don’t have buy-in from the right decision-makers, it can make reaching your goal seem like an uphill battle.
Another argument for developing a PR business case is that it results in better informed strategies, which in turn help the executive team to make more confident decisions and increase the likelihood that your initiative will be well-supported and successful. A business case can also help you demonstrate the value of PR and communications for your brand.
The key question to ask is: what do you need? Which resources will help you address the challenges that you have? Here are the key elements of a well-rounded communications budget to consider:
- Team headcount and salaries
- Agency retainers, including media relations & crisis communications
- Owned media and contributed content development
- Technology tools, such as media monitoring, media database and internal communication platforms for employee engagement
As an example, an increased budget may be necessary to develop new impactful content. Or, you may need to hire additional staff to prevent burnout or to help you be more effective and efficient in your role by freeing up your time. Alternatively, you could expand the scope of your existing agency retainer or hire a new agency to support you in executing new initiatives or penetrating new categories.
Given the chance to increase departmental spending, 52% of communicators say they’d hire more full-time staff. Improved technology is on the wish list, as well.
Source: Ragan Communications, Communications Benchmark Report 2021
You may also need to invest in new technology tools such as Onclusive that offer comprehensive media monitoring, power media relations workflows, provide PR measurement and reporting, and automate other tasks and responsibilities. This is especially important because you must be able to demonstrate ROI to secure executive buy-in, which continues to be a challenge for PR pros. PR analytics, especially PR Attribution™, can be a real game-changer when it comes to proving the value of communications.
A strong business case is beneficial for everyone involved:
- It initiates the discussion about a potential PR investment.
- It is a great tool for strategic planning and decision-making.
- It aligns everyone’s expectations about the approach, outcomes and benefits of the investment.
- It increases the likelihood of your success and, therefore, overall organizational success.
Using data & technology to support your business case
It is essential for the modern communicator to embrace data and measurement not only to be able to secure PR budget and resources, but also to craft impactful strategies and prove their effectiveness to executive leadership so that this budget continues to grow.
The need for data and insights becomes especially obvious when you are building a business case. In order to justify significant business investment, you must have supporting evidence, which usually comes in the form of current statistics, future projections or proof of what worked and didn’t work in the past.
That’s why PR measurement and C-suite friendly reporting tools are a worthwhile addition to your communications function. As we mentioned earlier, technology in itself can be the subject of a business case for investment. Software platforms like Onclusive provide PR pros worldwide with the ability to capture important market shifts, prepare for and manage crises, anticipate customer needs and deliver communications strategies that drive real business outcomes.
Want to learn how to build a strong business case for PR? Stay tuned for the continuation of this discussion next week as we outline the PR business case building blocks.
Join us for a webinar on How to Build a PR Business Case and Secure the Investment on October 26th. In this session, our panelists will discuss defining the challenges your team faces and tying them to business needs, writing an effective business case document, using data & technology to support your business case, and best practices for securing executive buy-in and showcasing your ROI. Following this webinar we’ll share a worksheet to guide you through building a PR business case.