Everyone is tightening their belts these days, and as much as I would like to moan and groan about doing more with less, I worry more about those companies that aren't challenging their staff to come up with inventive ways to maximize revenue while minimizing cost.
At Arena Stage, I am currently in the process of renegotiating all of our major advertising contracts. Most of our major advertising contracts are for the entire fiscal year, and I leverage the entire amount I plan to spend to get better rates and more promotional opportunities. So in essence, we have signed contracts until the end of the fiscal year, and although most people would think that would limit your ability to renegotiate, major media sources understand that if they aren't willing to renegotiate, then you will spend less when the contract renewal comes up.
Don't be shy! Trust me, vendors won't make a deal with you unless they are going to make a profit, so get the best deal that you can. It is the wild west out there. Companies are losing advertising dollars right and left, and that has made them hungrier for business. Throw your contracts and their rate cards out the window, and start from scratch. If they aren't willing to renegotiate, don't use their product.
Most arts organizations are planning for a 10-20% reduction in revenue during 2009. To remain healthy, you need to negotiate advertising contracts that get you as much as you had in 2008 for 10-20% less than what you spent.
There are very few advertising outlets that are so powerful and large that they will refuse to negotiate with you. In days past, newspapers could claim this status, but falling revenues and declining readership has changed all the rules. Tell your advertising reps that you view them as a partner--if they help you become more successful, you will spend more money with them. Your fates are tied together. Make them work for you. And if they aren't willing to renegotiate a better deal in this horrible economic climate, go to one of their competitors. If they take care of you, remember the gesture and take care of them when it is time to renew your advertising contract.