Reputation really is everything, especially in B2B when referrals can make up a large part of new leads in many industries. You have the power to control, to some degree, how people perceive your products, services, and team. To gain and retain the respect of target audiences, business partners, distributors, and other key stakeholders, it’s smart to build a sound PR strategy that can help you boost brand awareness, manage your brand’s perception in the market, and approach any concerns with care. And even if you don’t have a PR campaign you’d like to pursue, it’s important to equip your team with some tools so they know how to handle a variety of situations that enter public relations territory.
What is B2B PR?
So, what exactly counts as public relations today? B2B PR tactics are tactics that help maintain your brand’s image and the relationship between your company and the public, but you can also lump internal communications in there too. Think press releases, bylined articles, company-wide news releases, media monitoring, tradeshow booths, virtual events, and reputation management efforts like responding to negative online reviews. PR work may also occur around a brand launch or product launch. Your marketing team can secure print or digital ads, draft press releases, and pitch the news to industry publications.
Historical PR Initiatives
Take some time to review past public relations campaigns and tactics. Did they work well to build brand awareness or resolve any brand reputation issues? Did they have a positive or negative impact on your brand? Did they contribute to any marketing KPIs you typically measure? Seeing how your business handled various PR initiatives and how they were perceived by the public or your own team members can inform how you handle things now or what the reach will be like for new tactics you want to try. You might also want to scope out the competition to see what types of PR materials they put out, how they schedule product drops, or what they do to address media mishaps.
Identify Your Target Audience
If you haven’t done so already, create buyer personas for your target audience and consider other stakeholders that may be influenced by the PR materials you release. What details would buyers want to see in a new product press release? What wording and tone of voice should you use when sharing the news of a merger with your employees? What key information does a reporter need to know about your brand’s involvement in an upcoming event? How will business partners view the new sustainability policy posted on your website? As you plan PR tactics, consider who will consume this content so you can be careful about how you share it.
Timing is also important when it comes to crafting a PR campaign strategy. If you have a new product launching soon, you may want to start writing a press release early to schedule it on the wire at a good time and begin pitching publications right before it goes live to offer exclusive quotes and coverage opportunities to key news outlets. Then you’ll want to consider sending follow-up pitches and listening online for how your target audiences are responding. For tradeshows, you’ll need to design your booth, think about what materials you want to hand out, buy ads in event brochures, and email prospects a few times before the big day to invite them to visit you or schedule a chat at your booth. Map out your ideal schedule around any PR tactics so you get the most out of the resources and budget needed to make them happen.
9 Tactics For Building an Effective B2B PR Campaign
The goal of a sound PR strategy is universal: deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. In a B2B marketplace where the buyer’s consideration and decision process is almost always predated and impacted by stature and credibility, setting the foundation for a strategic PR program is vital.
Securing B2B coverage is a highly competitive activity that takes place in a saturated market. Therefore, to secure credible and targeted coverage, media relations is a necessary precondition. Relationships with key publications and reporters not only help simplify the placement process but add clout to companies as reporters will consider them a go-to resource for any last-minute queries.
Tracking company and competitor coverage in the media spans print and digital channels of all kinds. This activity often falls on the back-burner for B2B companies as it appears reactive, versus proactive. However, media monitoring is one of the most proactive PR tactics a company can utilize for relationship building, savvy retorts and additional competitive advantages.
B2B companies survive and thrive off data and proof points. By designing, fielding and announcing the results of a survey, companies can create news and hooks for reporters that support their value proposition. For example, a company that offers a service teaching people over the age of 40 how to use a cell phone, might administer a survey to people in that age range, followed by releasing a compelling stat like, “84% of those 40 or older say they don’t know how to use a cell phone properly.”
Every B2B company should have a press kit handy: an information packet that includes a corporate fact sheet, executive biographies, service overviews, photos of projects, testimonials, links to website and social media sites, recent press releases and contact information. Press kits are expected from reporters and will tell them instantly where a company falls on the legitimacy scale.
In an industry driven by thought leaders and subject-matter experts, speaking opportunities are hailed the holy grail of B2B stature and success. Speaking events also serve as effective networking events among peers and prospective clients.
The viral nature of today’s “people’s choice” marketing landscape can turn any crises into a casualty. B2B companies must have plans in place to combat foreseen and unforeseen issues in ways that target both internal and external audiences before it’s too late.
Social Media Integration
Social media continues to serve as both a core marketing and PR tactic for B2B and B2C marketplaces. However defined, social media is an expected PR tactic for a B2B company for its ability to foster the two-way conversations necessary for understanding and engaging with targeted audiences.
Finally, awards speak volumes to prospective B2B clients and build credibility among industry peers. During the vendor vetting process for a prospective client, certain industry awards can serve as a point-of-entry for placing on or being cut from the short-list.
Taking the Leap with Some Handy B2B PR Tips
Press releases that go out on the wire—and even those posted on a company website—are great basic tools for sharing news about products, mergers, awards, branding updates, and more. But many B2B teams fail to structure PR email pitching efforts around their press releases or do a poor job of reaching out to publications to write guest posts and bylined articles. If pitching is part of your PR campaign strategy, here are a few tips to improve your results.
PR Pitching Tips
- Editors and reporters will often ignore emails that have attachments to avoid spam, so instead of sending a document of your release, link to the release at the beginning of your pitch and paste the full release below your email signature for easy reference.
- If a contact is unfamiliar with your brand or simply needs a fast way to confirm your business and news is relevant to their publication, include link to your company at first mention.
- When pitching to a smaller list of contacts, personalize your greeting with their name and exclude your long company signature on any follow-up emails.
- In follow-up emails, restate the main topic of your pitch or briefly explain why the news is relevant and newsworthy. You can also send your email in the morning so they’re likely to see it in their inbox at good times.
- Ensure your subject line is intriguing enough for editors and reporters to stop scrolling through their inbox. It should sound timely and ideally convey the reason why it’s important news to cover (e.g., “The New Tech Integration Changing Patient Experiences”).
- If you’re pitching a general topic in the hopes of writing a guest article (e.g., offering to share new insights on technology trends in clinical trial management), consider including some extra elements like:
- Links to trending articles on the topic to demonstrate relevancy
- Quick bulleted info on recent company achievements
- A quote from a company executive and offer for interview
Did you find these tips helpful?
Are you interested in public relations, earned media other B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.