Connecting the Dollar Dots: How Understanding Economics Benefits PR
By Gregg Gethard
- Retail sales surged by 10.7% in March
- New US unemployment claims continue downward slide
- Inflations speeds up in April as consumer prices leap
PR and Economics
Economics has been called the “dismal science.” It’s understandable why. Headlines about economic news and trends tend to emphasize the negative — and, during this past year, at times the really negative. Even during the best of times, the subject is not one most people find exciting. (See: The iconic classroom scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off starring economist/actor Ben Stein.)
But, economics affects everyone and everything, and especially the world of business. A PR team that’s knowledgeable about the latest economics news and trends stands to benefit clients in a multitude of ways.
There are three cable networks alone that broadcast financial and economics news all day long, in addition to multiple business-focused publications like The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s. These are media that cater to America’s vast investor class, who pay non-stop attention to these outlets in order to find the best places to put their money. While a business may not be publicly traded, or for sale, it’s never a bad idea for a company’s name to move past the eyeballs of potential customers or partners — and to have its leadership show credibility via knowledgeable thought leadership.
This is where a PR team with extensive knowledge of economics can help by connecting the dots between a company’s products and services with broader, bigger picture business stories. Here are some examples of how businesses can benefit from a PR team’s expertise in economics:
Inflation fears have dominated headlines in recent weeks with both the Consumer Price Index and Producers Price Index showing steep gains, indicating rising prices for all sorts of goods.
Many manufacturers and retailers have started to use machine learning/artificial intelligence platforms over the past few years. A spokesperson for an AI/ML platform provider may have a chance to talk about how companies can use past data to steer their ships during a time of rapid price volatility. These technologies use data to find advantages in controlling costs, adjusting supply chains for optimum efficiency, and to discover and adjust to rapidly changing customer behavior. This shows exactly how firms can implement AI/ML to its fullest potential — and shows how a tech CEO understands the real life implications of a company’s product.
The Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve has kept its key interest rate at the lowest level possible due to the pandemic. This has resulted in historically low interest rates for consumer loans such as mortgages and car loans.
There is a lot of behind-the-scenes “special sauce” that takes place for lenders to process loan applications and eventually deliver money to its customers — everything from e-signature companies to banktech firms that quickly speed up the lending approval process. Companies providing the technology needed to process and distribute loans have an inside look at lending trends — how many people have applied for loans, what types of loans have the most demand, how fast banks are able to turn around loan applications, etc. — well before others in the market. While we may consider these companies as technology providers, being able to comment on consumer lending trends shows the world the importance of the products and services they offer.
The National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Census Bureau all publish widely watched monthly reports about home sales, prices and construction data.
Smart home features have grown in popularity over the past several years, along with companies that integrate these technologies that make them easier for consumers to use. Demand for smart home technologies likely coincides with demand for housing — especially at the high end of the market. Advanced sales trends of a company’s smart home technology products also may reflect upcoming trends in housing markets. Commenting on this to any of the dozens of reporters who write about housing trends can do more than just show in-depth knowledge on real estate markets. It’s also an opportunity to discuss how a company’s smart home products can actually help people as they move into their new home and how real estate brokers can increase their business.
Economics may appear uninteresting to many. But PR professionals can use the “dismal science” to tell stories that can highlight all that is good about a company.