As PR practitioners, whether in a good economy or bad economy, we should make the best use of our budget.

Throughout the past 25 years, Meg Geltner, General Manager for the Salvation Army of Lee County, Florida, has never seen a downturn like now. More challenging economic times have inspired some innovative public relations initiatives to generate community support. Geltner recommends:
– collaborative efforts with community partners who will also benefit, including governmental, for-profit and other non-profits;
– targeted messages and mediums for each donor group, cultivating each generation; and
– focusing on trends which will appeal to editorial boards and donors.

She also notes that with the advent of new technology and social networking, the role of the public relations staff has evolved. Even so, tried and true methods of communicating with donors, such as direct mail, should not be dismissed, and are still very effective.

As Director of Communications and Printing Services for Lee County Public Schools, Joe Donzelli is a one-man band. He faces not only the challenge of a limited budget, but also limited human resources. To counteract this, he has had to become very resourceful in locating talent within other departments in the school district to assist with technology and graphics.

Donzelli reminded us that although our metropolitan area has grown significantly, it’s still considered a small market versus others such as Miami. According to Donzelli, only a small percentage of journalists actually have formal education in the field, and many reporters in our market are seeking experience in order to make a career move to a larger market. Because journalistic inexperience can sometimes cause inaccuracy, Donzelli recommends controlling your message by submitting ready-to-go materials to the media, including press releases and quotes they can use verbatim, and posting your own video messages and interviews on the web.