In tough economic times when brands and corporates are looking to cut costs and the value of weighty, expensive ad campaigns are being questioned - PR, which has traditionally been the Cinderella of the marketing mix, has become the belle of the ball.
That is because communication doesn't stop just because times are hard. In fact, changing business circumstances, require more communication than ever before.
And the tough times have made many companies realise how valuable their people are when it comes to differentiating their service from their opposition. They are investing more in communicating with staff in order to retain and inspire them than ever before.
The tighter bottom line focus in the wake of the global meltdown has forced businesses to see communications as a far more strategic tool.
Without a favourable brand and corporate reputation - which cannot be left to chance but needs to be built by harnessing all channels and sustained over time - advertising campaigns which extol corporate virtues or promote products at specific prices could fall on deaf ears.
A recent Pfizer pharmaceuticals campaign in the US is a brilliant example of how the tough times made a brand change tack. It cut its advertising budget to fund a 'do good' consumer campaign through which it provided its products free of charge for one year to US consumers with chronic illnesses who had been retrenched in the US.
Pfizer is the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world and has had more than its share of controversy.
The do-good campaign went a long way in negating the negative exposure following its guilty plea in 2009 to one of the largest health care frauds in US history. It settled with the US Department of Justice one of the highest criminal penalties ever levied for illegal marketing of four of its drugs.
By giving sick people who had been retrenched its products for nothing and communicating this far and wide - it went a long way to rebuilding its brand as one which genuinely cares about human health.
It gladdened the hearts of caring doctors who were hard pressed to find alternative medicines for chronically ill unemployed patients who could not afford what they prescribed and needless to say really helped those in a financial pickle.
The campaign provided clear proof points of how its products help people.
The massive cost of providing the products at no charge to those retrenched without access to private medical aid were offset against their normal costs of advertising and engaging with the medical fraternity (who prescribe their scheduled medicines) over the period.
The resulting goodwill and talkability the campaign unleashed was so positive that it has become a global example of how "doing good is good for business".
Needless to say one needs to communicate the good your business or brands are doing in the right way and in the right tone so that your target markets all get to know about it in order to maximise the business benefits.