B2B Public Relations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2013

The ever-changing landscape of modern B2B public relations means that the best practices for strategizing, managing, and measuring campaigns aren't what they used to be. The more things change (social media, content marketing, infinite analytics and metrics), the more they stay the same (media outreach, messaging, and networking). Here's a rundown of current best practices for B2B PR.

As ever, B2B is relationship driven. B2B has a smaller target market, longer sales cycle, and a multi-step buying process, so tactics should focus on maintaining relationships and educating the target audience. Tactics aimed at a product, a large market, a short sales cycle, or an emotional buying decision are more prominent in the B2C marketplace.

Strategy

The first step to creating an optimal B2B PR strategy is understanding your business goals and what specifically you want to achieve. The goals must be measurable, and should be oriented to organization evolution, not to proving your worth to executives. Do you want to increase sales or stimulate leads, or are you looking to expand global reach or become an industry thought leader? The goals you set determine the tactics you'll use to implement your strategy.

Next, identify your audience based on which market segment will best help you achieve those goals. Start by leveraging your organization's database of leads, potential leads, and clients past and present. Determine how that segment gets its information and what the segment wants, needs, and reacts to. Pay for access to a database, or reach out to your clients with a survey or a phone call. Conduct a bit of research and look at whether they blog, or actively use social media, and investigate the links they share – that provides insight into their sources of information acquisition and distribution.

Implementation

Work smartly with the media. Engaging with the media should be a central tactic. Look into industry bloggers, journalists, and thought leaders (especially those your target segments follow), and compile their information into a list. Then, consume their media and learn about what they offer. Look at whether they accept contributions from guest writers, including profiles or case studies, identify opportunities for participation, and act on those opportunities.

Sending refined press releases to those on your list is the most basic step. Build a relationship with the right journalists or thought leaders by inviting them to product events, proposing features or guest articles, and positioning yourself or an organization manager as a credible source for industry articles. The objective is to become a reliable resource and integral member of industry media, and to share and build the community while further solidifying your status as an expert.

Generate your own content. B2Bs that blog generate 67 percent more leads than B2Bs that don't. If you don't blog, it's time to start. If you do but your blog has lapsed, re-up your efforts, because content marketing is a crucial marketing strategy for modern businesses.

Consistently publish content to keep users engaged, but don't just churn out subpar posts – create helpful posts, respond to relevant hot topics, and share quality content to build your blog or social media account into a resource. The most popular posts are those that provide the reader with concrete information. Don't think of it as giving away your knowledge for free; those researching your business or product will become better informed about your product, which means you spend less time fielding the same basic questions.

Be an online force. A Marketing Leadership Council survey of B2B customer contacts reports that customers complete 57 percent of the purchase decision-making process before any contact with a supplier sales rep. All the due diligence they run online means digital tactics should be central to public relations. This means it's time to optimize (or re-optimize) your company website and its SEO, target online advertising, actively blog and use social media, and engage users in online communities.

Engage influencers. Industry influencers have a lot of clout online and in the real world, and engaging with the influencers in your target industries is critical, as is maintaining the relationship. Find those influencers who are accessible and relevant. Interacting with an influencer via social media, direct messaging, or by commenting on the influencer's blog are all small, quick ways to maintain the relationship, but be sure to initiate phone or in-person contact every so often to keep them engaged. Get influencers involved in your organization through collaborative, mutually-beneficial projects.

Network. B2B marketing relies heavily on relationships, but networking is more than attending local monthly networking functions, it's integrating your organization into the industry community. Attend trade shows in your target industries and forge or nurture relationships. Volunteer yourself or a client to moderate panels or be a guest speaker. Just as important: Organize events yourself targeted to your audience, and orient those events specifically to your goals. Invite clients, prospects, and peers from their company to participate.

Analysis

Measure your media exposure and efficacy with metrics customized to your goal. Perhaps your goal was to increase presence in top-tier media by 10 percent. Measure the success of that goal by looking at the impact on top and bottom lines. On the top line, did sales increase? On the bottom line, did your media efforts sufficiently educate consumers so that cost-per-customer maintenance decreased? Did client retention costs change? Did customer service receive fewer inquiries because of clearer media messaging?

Measuring PR progress is an involved process, so make sure to keep it consistent but manageable. If the task becomes too complex, ask an internal or external expert for help; tracking progress and adjusting the campaign are perhaps the most important aspects to keeping PR campaigns alive.

It's important to cultivate a program that's both flexible and adaptable, so that as vehicles and mediums change, you remain agile and able to stay true to corporate objectives throughout the process, which is essential to obtaining buy-in from executives. Leveraging department goals is a part of the strategy, but the most effective PR programs identify year-over-year benchmarks that always keep the organization and its goals at the forefront.

About BurrellesLuce

BurrellesLuce is the U.S. leader in media monitoring. Professionals in a wide range of industries rely on our comprehensive curated content from local and national print, online, broadcast, and social media sources. BurrellesLuce has a turnkey copyright compliance program that allows us to provide copyright-compliant, behind-the-paywall content not available to other services. BurrellesLuce combines grade-A content with easy-to-use software, allowing users to evaluate and analyze their media coverage and PR efforts. It's all integrated into our user-friendly interface, BurrellesLuce WorkFlow™.

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