Budget day is one of the big political set-pieces. It generates acres of press across all media and with that PR opportunities.
Yet PR teams face considerable challenges on Budget day. Competition for share of voice is ferocious making it difficult to stand out from the noise.
A press release at 4pm on Budget Day saying that the Chancellor has changed this or introduced that will not cut it.
The Evening Standard’s Simon English agrees. He told PRs that “there is no point being one of the 97 people telling us what we can figure out from watching the telly”.
The accountancy firms – even modest firms – will create a Budget ‘war room’ with armies of specialists offering comment minute by minute throughout the Chancellor’s speech, then pouring over the various government press releases for the minutiae. They are very good at spotting the stories.
Big law firms will do the same.
So what should professional services firms do to make the most of Budget day?
Start early. The best work will happen in the week or two leading up to the Budget. Consider Budget predictions or a survey of clients asking what they would like to see in the Budget. Pre-Budget press is easier to secure.
Line up opportunities in advance. Regional firms may want to approach local BBC, newspapers and business magazines offering to spend the afternoon with them to share with readers and listeners the Budget implications as they happen.
Targeted comment. Pick a key industry sector and focus efforts there. Well-placed commentary in an important trade title may be easier to secure and make more of an impact on clients and prospects.
Wait. Budget day noise can be hard to break through with comment and reaction on the headline announcements. Take some time, review the press releases, and offer a journalist a one-on-one briefing or article that examines the issues clients might face.
Matt Baldwin is the joint managing director of Coast, a PR and communications consultancy.