How To Build Business Resilience In Your PR Agency: 7 Powerful Tips

Oct 17, 2022

Business resilience is the number one thing your agency needs to weather tough economic times. Being able to bounce back from high inflation rates, a nationwide recession, or low consumer spending is so important to your long-term success. You need to start building business resilience before a recession hits — doing so will help you make it to the other side and set yourself up for success as the economy bounces back.

Hold On…What Even Is a Recession? 

Recessions are a natural part of any economy, but they’re still scary for entrepreneurs! A recession is a serious, months-long decline in economic activity that reaches all sectors and niches of the country’s economy. The 2008 recession and the Great Depression are more extreme examples, but they’re good representations of how a recession impacts society. 

Prepping for a recession can be difficult for entrepreneurs — economists can spot a recession brewing on the horizon, but can’t know how severe or how long it will be. So, it’s up to you as a PR pro to get your agency in order and start building up your business resilience before a recession hits. 

7 Ways to Build Business Resilience and Prep Your Agency for a Recession 

Ready to make your agency as resilient as you are? After leading my agency through some tough economic times (including the 2008 recession!), I’ve learned a lot about building a resilient business. Here are seven of my best strategies for building business resilience and preparing for a recession.

#1: Business Resilience Comes from Efficiency 

A lot of business owners look towards laying off staff to cut costs before a recession, but this isn’t the right move! The best thing you can do for yourself, your team, and your clients is to become a more efficient agency. You want all of your team members to get into a flow state and focus on revenue-generating activities to boost business resilience now and in the future. 

Work with your team to find small places where you can improve your efficiency and side-step daily hiccups. Is there something you can automate with software instead of doing manually? Can you streamline your systems and use templates (we have great reporting templates in The Agency Accelerator!) to turn lengthy tasks into plug-and-play ones? Don’t be afraid to purchase new software or programs — you’ll make that money back in saved time after a few weeks or less. 

#2: Take Care of Your Team

Going through an economic downturn can do a number on your team’s morale — it’s easy to get discouraged, disconnect from work, and constantly expect the worst of each day. As a PR pro and agency owner, you need to lead your team through tough times, keep them connected, and make sure everyone feels valued. Having business resilience means having a resilient team, too! 

One of my favorite ways to keep my team engaged is to remind them of how their work aligns with their personal lives. You want your team to feel the same amount of autonomy over their work, schedule, and time as you do, right? Emphasize that connection and your agency’s mission, vision, and values to help them stay committed to overcoming challenges together.

#3: Be Adaptable and Flexible!

Being adaptable and flexible is the name of the game for a PR pro building business resilience, and it’s never more important than during a crisis! Dealing with an economic downturn can include shifting your press strategy, switching up your pitch angles, or completely diverting from your client’s launch plans. You need to have Plans B, C, and D on standby while you execute Plan A.

Recessions typically come with shifts in customer priorities that will require you to change your client’s messaging. People usually slow down on spending and focus on practicality over comfort. Be cognizant of what’s going on in the world and avoid any messaging that could be seen as out of touch or disconnected from your client’s audience. 

#4: Make Sure Your Clients Know the Value of PR 

Lots of companies cut their PR, advertising, or marketing budgets when a recession hits…but that’s How Not to Build Business Resilience 101! Companies that put their PR on hold often struggle to keep their customer base through economic downturns. Those who maintain their PR efforts stand out when the economic tide turns. 

As a PR pro, you need to educate your clients on the power and value of PR (and staying with your agency) during these tough times. PR lets your clients have a voice and connect with their audience on a deeper level no matter what’s happening in the world. Focus on keeping this relationship positive and don’t let the negativity in the news bleed into your communication.

Related: How To Build Confidence In Your Value As A PR Professional 

#5: The Time to Raise Your Rates Is Now

As an agency owner, you have the power to raise your rates as much and as often as you want. You need to seriously consider increasing your retainer fees before a recession hits…and if you haven’t raised your rates in the past year or two, this should be a no-brainer! That revenue boost will help your agency’s finances stay strong during an economic downturn, which helps your business resilience, too. 

The best place to start is with your new clients, then you should use that new rate as leverage with your current clients. When their contracts are up for renewal, you could offer the new rate with expanded services so they see the value in the rate hike. Or, you can offer to lock in their old rate if they sign a contract for a certain number of months — check out the retainer contract templates inside The Agency Accelerator for a jumping-off point!

#6: Your Network Needs to Grow 

Your relationships are at the core of your agency: you need strong connections with your clients and with the media to find success. When you’re prepping for a recession, you should nurture your current client relationships and expand your network to create new ones. In The Agency Accelerator, we call this the Prosperous Client Pipeline — having a steady stream of potential clients on hand will boost your business resilience and help you replace any lost clients during economic downturns. 

Make the most of your personal and professional network by finding super connectors who have ties across your niche. They can put you in touch with possible clients and give you a really strong referral. You should also keep an eye on what’s happening in your industry; if your PR pro peers are adding new services, see if you can offer those too to make your agency more competitive. 

#7: If You Need Financing, Get It Now! 

Obtaining financing for your agency should never be taken as a sign of failure or a step backward in your business resilience. Asking for financial help is part of being an entrepreneur and taking care of your team. If you anticipate needing some assistance in an upcoming recession, get one step ahead and secure that financing before you actually need it. 

This is a super important protective measure for your business. You’re way more likely to get approved when the economy is doing okay and your agency is turning high profits. It’s much harder to get that assistance during a recession, which can push you toward using personal finances like credit cards, savings, or a line of credit on your home instead…and that’s extremely risky, to say the least! 

How to Grow Your Agency’s Business Resilience Each Day 

The prospect of building your business resilience before a recession hits can be scary, but don’t panic! You have the time to prepare. If all seven of these tips are overwhelming right now, tackle them one at a time. 

Dedicate 30 minutes to an hour each day to improving your business resilience. That can be spent chatting with a new connection, researching software to automate certain tasks, planning a rate increase…whatever you need to do! Now is the time to invest your time into building business resilience so you can find growth and opportunity in the coming slow season. 

Having business resilience is the key to staying strong no matter what’s happening with the economy. As you’re taking time to prepare your agency for a slow season, you’re also setting yourself up for more success down the road. And with these seven strategies up your sleeve, you’ll be able to bounce back from a recession quickly and stay on a path toward reaching your goals.