Public relations should be an important part of every company’s marketing strategy; unfortunately, many B2B companies still consider PR to be a solely consumer-driven marketing tactic but that couldn’t be further from the truth. B2B businesss can leverage PR to establish/maintain the company’s brand image, improve credibility with target audiences and increase brand awareness – activities that will shorten the length of the company’s sales cycle over time.
Sound interesting? I thought so.
Before I tell you the best ways for B2B companies to use PR, let’s go back to the basics… what is PR? According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Now the really important stuff… how can B2B companies use PR to increase their brand awareness and shorten their sales cycle?
As with other marketing efforts, using ineffective PR strategies and tactics can have a negative effect on your company’s reputation and the growth of your business. Here are four tips for highly effective B2B PR:
Share newsworthy information & stories about your company, industry and the operational problem that your technology resolves
PR is about telling stories and building relationships. By telling compelling, informative stories, your company can build trust with your audience, share new ideas, improve your reputation and inspire partnerships with other organizations.
As well as using traditional PR tactics, your company should be creating a strategic content marketing strategy, which can be shared through your company’s blog, e-newsletters or through media outlets (that are willing to publish expert articles from contributors).
B2B companies that blog generate about 67% more leads per month than those that don’t. There are four things that successful B2B content marketers do. These include documenting both their strategy (48% do this) and editorial mission statements (49%), meeting with their content teams often (41%) and having organizational clarity on what content marketing success is for them (55%). Marketers who are goals focused and who emphasize strategic planning and action are more effective.
When writing your content, remember to:
• Write in a conversational, friendly tone.
• As much as possible, try to remain positive and helpful throughout.
• Segment the article/blog to first address the audience’s concerns and then use the remainder of the post to answer your readers’ top three questions on the topic. In many cases, these question are: “Why change? Why now? Why you?”
B2B PR campaigns tend to be more targeted and convey your message to a more defined audience than B2C campaigns. Because of this, messages can be more in-depth.
Emphasize value over price in your messaging
When implementing B2B PR tactics, the goal is to reach key decision makers with messages that will educate them on why they need your product/service and encourage them to request a demo or contact your sales team for more info. When crafting your messaging, it is important to focus on your company’s unique selling proposition (USP) and its value to the potential client, rather than trying to compete on price alone. “Our data clearly shows that the average proportion of any market that ranks price over all other factors is 20 percent. That means that 80 percent of business-to-business buyers do not prioritize price, which in turn means that price-focused sales people are leaving value on the table in 80 percent of cases,” said Julia Cupman.
There is another very important reason not to try to compete solely on price. When customers purchase because they recognize the value of a product/service, they will often become long-term, repeat clients; whereas, customers who purchase based simply on the lowest price are unlikely to become repeat customers.
Find the right platform & medium to share your content
Understand your audience and their preferences. For example, do they prefer to read written content or will it be more effective to share images or videos?
When you understand what interests your potential clients, you can execute your content marketing plan more effectively. This will vary based on the company and clients. It can be helpful to try different methods and gauge how they affect the efficacy of your content marketing strategy. It’s important to know what the best approach to generating interest is and then use the right platform to implement your strategy. About 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get the company’s information through an article (instead of through an advertisement), which is why content marketing and PR is so important; it’s what your potential clients want to read.
Images are also highly effective additions to your content marketing strategy. The CMO Council’s whitepaper “From Creativity to Content” showed that: “65% of senior marketing executives believe that visual assets (photos, video, illustrations and infographics) are core to how their brand story is communicated.” Jesse Mawhinney confirmed the impact of visuals in marketing: “When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.”
Understand effective measurement tactics
Question: What good is a PR strategy if it isn’t obtaining the results that you’re seeking?
Answer: Absolutely none!
It is crucial to know how effective your PR strategies are; by using consistent, quantitative metrics to evaluate your progress, you can ensure a high ROI on your marketing spend. Because PR is not a direct marketing tactic (in which you can track which activity created a specific sale, like advertising is), it’s important to think outside of the box when determining your company’s specific metrics. David Rockland of Ketchum suggests segmenting measurement into three sections: outputs (reach and content), outcomes (knowledge, opinions and attitudes) and business results (added value).
“B2B PR practitioners need to understand specifically how PR fits into the sales funnel, and then find “correlating points” to interject calls-to-action. She share[s] that phrases such as “How did you hear about us?” and “Was this helpful for you?” can help specifically to tie PR tactics to outcomes,” said Johna Burke.
Does your company use any other B2B PR tactics that have been effective? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.