In this ever-changing world, sometimes all you have is your reputation. But what if the public’s perception of your brand is incorrect — or worse, nonexistent? A strong B2B public relations strategy can help you manage your company’s reputation and build positive relationships with both internal and external stakeholders.
Because B2B companies are not as public facing as consumer brands, there’s a common misconception that a public relations strategy isn’t necessary for B2B . But there are many benefits to having a strong PR program in place for B2B companies. Here are just a few:
If you’ve been reading the VantagePoint blog for any period of time, you know planning is something we emphasize, and PR strategy is no exception. It’s true that the nature of public relations is always in flux, since issues and news often arise unexpectedly. But having a plan in place is still key to success, even if the plan has contingencies and flexibility built in.
Public relations is a long-term strategy, building your brand position through legitimate industry endorsements and placements. If you’re starting from the beginning, you’ll have to do some work to develop your brand’s perception as a thought leader in its industry and community.
Establishing your brand as a thought leader is the first step, and the second needs to be keeping your brand top of mind. Regular news announcements or touch points will remind your brand’s network of the industry expertise you have to offer.
A clear roadmap for moving forward and establishing a valid presence within the industry is vital to seeing success and ensuring your resources are well allocated.
A comprehensive B2B public relations strategy will attempt to reach influencers and opinion shapers within your industry. But before you can reach those folks, you have to make sure you know who your target audience is — and enough details about them to help determine what type of media they read, listen to or watch.
Understanding this information is crucial to tailoring your message, mapping the buyer’s journey and knowing where to reach people. It will also help you determine how to segment your audience.
Segmentation, the process of breaking down your audience into smaller, more practical ones, is important because it allows for more targeted messaging and content.
One simple example of segmentation is between current and potential customers. Your current customers don’t need or want the same types of content or messaging that your potential customers do, and vice versa.
How to segment isn’t universal and can greatly differ from brand to brand with how different B2B audiences are, but here are some suggestions for how to segment:
Once you’ve successfully identified and segmented your audience, you can begin to craft content tailored to the different segments. With proper audience identification and segmentation, your public relations team can begin to understand how and where to address your target audience with your PR strategy.
Purchasing behavior is often influenced by what B2B buyers remember about a product, whether that’s something they read, heard or saw. Crafting a memorable message is what helps push product sales as well as bolstering your brand’s perception.
Now that you know who you’re targeting, you can create an effective message to suit their preferences. For this, you’ll need impeccable writing and communication skills. Remember that B2B public relations is primarily about managing perceptions to further your brand’s reputation.
Here are a few reminders to keep in mind while developing your content.
Put all that customer research to work by placing yourself in the same mindset as your target audience before you begin. What do they care about? What are they interested in?
How you position the announcement is vital. Why is this news valuable to the audience? What benefits will this offer your customers?
Including quotes from company stakeholders is standard practice for many press releases, and you should allow these interviews to inform more than just a quote. Take this opportunity to understand why this story should resonate and who they hope it resonates with.
Journalists, editors and other influencers are extremely pressed for time and receive many, many news announcements. Keeping your content short and to the point shows you value their time and helps them quickly sift through their messages for relevance.
Yes, this is basic, but every single press release you create should include the five Ws — who, what, when, where and why — in the first paragraph to grab the reader’s attention.
All target audiences have certain consumption behaviors. Some age groups prefer to watch content online, while others prefer reading hard copies of publications. Some prefer certain media outlets over others.
To develop a comprehensive B2B public relations strategy, you’ll have to research what distribution channels your target audiences prefer and where, exactly, they’re getting their information.
Distribution channels can also vary based on the type of message you’ve developed. For example, you’ll need to consider the right channels and influencers to reach out to for pitches or press release distributions. Some messages are only successful in certain channels.
Once you’ve created a strong media list, it’s key to maintain it. Schedule several times throughout the year to update the information you have and research any new channels that have become available to add to the list.
It can be tough to measure thought leadership, brand awareness or even brand sentiment — the primary goals of a B2B public relations strategy — but it’s absolutely necessary to understand how PR is affecting your business.
You’ll need to come up with measurable PR metrics that indicate success. Of course, these metrics will vary greatly based on your marketing and business goals, but here are examples of KPIs we often measure:
Evaluate your metrics regularly to determine whether your public relations tactics are working or if they can be improved.
If you discover that you’re achieving your goals, then continue using your B2B PR strategies. If not, then look for ways to improve your tactics. It is important to review your PR strategy regularly to ensure its effectiveness.
In this digital world where reputations can be built or destroyed within a few hours, having a strong public relations strategy in place is vital for every business, even B2B brands. These PR best practices will put you well on your way to building a strong foundation for the winds of change and bolster your marketing communications plans.
Have more B2B public relations best practices you want to share with us? We’d love to hear them. Sound off in the comments below.