Posted by Eric Hazard on Mon, Oct 10 2016

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Use it or lose it: Tips for maximizing 2016 communications budgets

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As the fourth quarter kicks off, marketing and communications professionals find themselves asking a common question: I have budget that I need to spend before 2017, what should I do? It’s a case of use it or lose it.

Corporate finance can be unforgiving when it comes to marketing and PR budgets. Thanks to budget accrual rules, unused budget from 2016 may get swept into the general fund and redistributed. Then in 2017, the amount of the budget actually used, is the baseline for 2017. That means you could be coming into 2017 with less budget to do even more as corporate executives look for greater return from marketing and communications.

The good news is that this is the perfect time to line up end of year projects that will fully deploy 2016 budgets and set the department up for success in 2017 and beyond.

As we enter Q4, here are some tips for how communicators can maximize their budgets for the year and lock those amounts in for 2017.

Competitive audit – know where I got some of these ideas? From watching your competitors. Don’t get caught flat footed when executives ask why Widgets Inc is on point with the hot new trends in 2017 and your still rehashing last year’s tired ideas. Do a deep-dive analysis of what worked for the competition and what could have been better. Bring that intel to the board room when you ask for more budget in 2017 as you put together the marketing proposals that really pop.

Video production – whether it’s a video case study, product overview, or opinion piece, video is hot. But what may come off as a short a breezy one-minute clip may take weeks to produce. Start working with your team now to line up product crews, write scripts and leave plenty of time to edit the piece so that its ready to go ahead of year end parties and in time for client thank you gifts.

Social media training – social media is at the center of the communications world and those companies that are engaging on the platforms see benefits to their communications programs. Particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn, corporate spokespeople can use social media platforms to connect with the media, engage with their audience and amplify the program results. Schedule the training now to kick off 2017 a new social media program in 2017.

Collateral for year end parties – in six weeks, the corporate holiday party circuit will be in full swing. While it is easy to book the venue, secure the catering and lock in the guest list, don’t forget about all the things you can do to really make the party pop in the guest minds. Think about producing large logo banners, or a photo wall that will help make social media pics go viral. Or consider a producing an end of year highlight page that showcases some of your best media hits for the year. Your executives will love the extra conversation starters and it breathes some renewed life into hard earned media assets.

And most of all, get ahead of it for next year. Get those 2017 planning meetings on the book in December and talk through objectives and new ideas for the new year. The good news is that you’ll be looking at a healthy budget again and the framework will be in place to push the program forward.

Eric Hazard is the Managing Director of Cognito New York, a financial PR and marketing agency. 

Banking Communications, Communications, Financial Communications,
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