Public relations is so much more than press releases. Public relations is a set of activities that cultivate a positive reputation with the public through various unpaid or earned communications. And for B2B companies, securing earned media is focused on targeting a specific business audience, knowing how to reach that audience, and having a deep understanding of the motivation that drives them to purchase your products.
Most marketing organizations have started their planning process for 2020. But as we roll into the new year, B2B marketing needs to step up its game and apply PR lessons learned from B2C brands. The following are five important strategies that your B2B Company can use to boost its PR and marketing campaigns.
1. Lead with customer-first storytelling
At the recent Inbound 2019 Conference this month, Brian Halligan’s, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot, keynote shared secrets of today’s leaders and innovators success. These leaders are laser focused on customer experience. They don’t just sell to customers, they sell through customers. This means the sales process doesn’t end once they become a customer. It continues throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
In order for companies to rise above the noise level and interest reporters, it’s even more important in today’s ever changing, omni-channel landscape to tell stories that represent the soul of the brand. Emotional connections created with B2c brand stories are now key for B2B.
Don’t just find interesting case studies on how your products are used. Instead, create pitches that incorporate the human element, are timely and relevant to your B2B buyer. They are far more effective, emotionally moving, have the context of honesty to bring new clients to the table. It makes them want to share your story too!
People buy from people.
2. Brands with big ideas have a competitive advantage
Over 20+ years, I’ve worked with startups and other companies looking to disrupt industries with innovative technologies. One of the key differentiators of those that became industry leaders, was their ability to articulate the “big idea” for changing the status quo. They had a vision for the future and confidently went into the market to say, “My company is changing the way the industry does XYZ….”
In all of our messaging projects, we’ve pushed clients to find these “big ideas”. Finding your new narrative and establishing an ongoing proactive PR campaign around these stories is crucial to your rise to a leadership position. Take a front seat and drive the conversation!
Your vision will separate you from the pack.
3. B2B Influencer Marketing takes front stage
When we think of influencer marketing, we think of what consumer brands are doing with Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, and Snapchat using celebrities with millions of followers. B2B influencer marketing is a little different. It’s not about getting the influencer with the biggest audience but finding those who are most relevant to and trusted by your target audience. It’s an increasingly important strategy when looking to build thought leadership, share insights or increase awareness.
Since B2B products are usually complex, you want to identify these influencers early and educate them on often on your vision and evolution. Have them experience your products if possible. Offer to create content for them and with them. It takes a combination of earned media through your ongoing PR program, guest blogging or contributed articles, and paid media to influence the influencer. Create long-term partnerships that benefit both you and the influencer’s brand. Remember it’s all about leveraging the credibility and reach offered by analysts, bloggers, users, and subject matter experts to convince buyers about the quality of your company, products, and services. See our more in-depth blog articles around B2B influencer marketing strategies and tactics here.
Work with “trusted” influencers.
4. B2B Video Marketing Campaigns that go viral are not just for B2C
We can all learn from the viral video campaigns of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Many of us including me were inspired to dump water on our heads to be part of the movement. B2B campaigns don’t need to be that different and should be at the core of your marketing plan and used to drive media interest. Like consumers, the media also likes video content that they can share with their audience. Video is one more tool in the PR toolkit.
Video isn’t just for marketing campaigns. Reporters like to share engaging visual content too!
5. Think SEO in PR Strategies
Every time an influencer mentions your site, it is linked back to your site. Any many times when a publication mentions your brand, you may also get a link to your site. This link-building strategy is important to boost the importance to your content. Consider that sites who rank on the first page of Google get 91.5% of all organic search traffic. And 51% of all site traffic comes from search engines. Give PR your SEO targeted words to leverage in bylines, articles, and their pitching efforts. Make sure PR is thinking SEO and putting a focus on backlinking as part of your PR strategy and your coverage is from an outlet that is relevant to your brand.
Everyone wants the backlinks – including media outlets.
As online channels evolve, we will continue to rewrite the rules and modernize PR strategies to find, reach and convince B2B customers and prospects to buy your products and services. B2B brands will thrive and win if they leverage an emotional connection while communicating big ideas and build meaningful differentiation.
What new strategies are you applying to build and increase your brand value and drive your PR and marketing programs? Let us know.