The Business Journal spoke with Dan St. John, CEO and chairman of St. John & Partners advertising and public relations firm, and asked how the industry has been affected by the soft economy.
TBJ: How was the advertising industry impacted by Sept. 11?
St. John: The advertising industry was suffering before Sept. 11. It was a difficult year because most clients cut their ad budgets first. The advertising and public relations budgets for most companies are usually the first things to go when the economy is slow. The important things to do are to keep the product or company's name out there and do more with less.
TBJ: How should companies get the most for their money in this soft economy?
St. John: There are several things companies can do. For example, when advertising in broadcast markets, rather than go dark with less advertising, cut back the number of spots you run or the number of weeks an ad runs. In print, you don't have to go full page to reach your audience. A little there is better than nothing.
TBJ: Can you give some advice to companies that are looking at the best way to spend their advertising dollars?
St. John: There are four important things to remember. The most important thing is not to cut the budget altogether, because once you're out of the market, it's hard to build it back up.
Secondly, make sure to protect your brand. In cases where your advertising is cut, make sure your customer service and total customer experience are excellent.
Third, take advantage of all public relations possibilities. When the opportunity arises, become the expert in your field. Use the media whenever you can and offer your expertise as someone with experience in your field. Take any chance you can to get your name out there in a positive light.
Fourth, keep in communication with your employees. When employees are comfortable in their work environment and know about the business, their work will reflect that.
TBJ: What are you hearing about the future relating to advertising and public relations?
St. John: There are positive signs in the industry. I recently attended a forum with CEOs from all over the country and the majority of them thought things would look up toward the end of 2002, and 2003 would be a better year with improvements across the board.
Beth Davis, bizjournals.com February 15, 2002
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