For B2Bs, public relations (PR) is the most efficient and cost-effective way to grow demand for your business. However, at the same time, it is also underutilized and often misunderstood. In fact, many people mistakenly think the abbreviation PR stands for press release; for example, they may say “we need to send out a PR on this news.” While it may sound funny, it is actually quite understandable since a majority of people associate public relations with the distribution of press releases. However, in 2022 your public relations needs to go way beyond press releases. This is why having a well-thought-out B2B PR strategy is key to maximizing your external communication efforts. Below, we’ll answer the question: what are the key components of a successful B2B PR strategy?
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
When it comes to developing your PR strategy, the first step is to determine what success looks like. What are your goals? B2B PR is an investment, so first and foremost, your return is directly related to how much effort you put in on the front end. Start by identifying what the company would like to accomplish in the coming months and years. So, what does success look like and how do we actually develop a successful B2B PR strategy?
This may include the following:
- Increasing awareness
- Building credibility
- Establishing expertise
- Generating leads
- Educating your target audience
- Shortening sales cycles
Once you have established where you want to go, you can begin the discovery process by taking a deep dive into the company. Why are your customers choosing you? What are your differentiators, and do you have a well-laid-out value proposition?
Here is where a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis can be helpful. This will supply you with the framework to assess internal and external factors, as well as where the most potential lies for your company.
During this process, you’ll be able to determine how you want your company to be perceived by your target audience. Do you want to be seen as experts, problem solvers, or the lowest-priced option? Would it be helpful if people knew you as the folks with the highest quality, shortest lead times, or as the leaders in safety? What is the first thing you want your customers to think about when they think about you?
Next, you can begin to define your target audience and what drives them to make decisions. This is hugely important and often a commonly overlooked part of any B2B PR strategy. Engineers and CEOs speak different languages and have different needs. Establishing who you are trying to reach will greatly increase the effectiveness of your messaging.
Some important factors are:
- What are their pain points?
- What are they motivated by?
- What tone of voice will you write in?
The next step will be to look at your competitors and the industry as a whole. Starting with key competitors, how are they positioning themselves? Where are there gaps in messaging? If everyone is saying “we have the best customer service” then you may benefit from promoting your product engineering or inventory management capabilities. Basically, if they are saying “tastes great,” you might want to go with “less filling.” The key here is to find ways to position yourself so that you can begin to increase market share.
When it comes to industry analysis, you’ll want to understand what trends or shifts are affecting your potential customers. If you notice that there is a common problem in the industry that you could solve then you may want to build your strategy around telling the story of how you are solving that issue.
Before you go any further, it is always a good idea to take a step back and remind yourself that the main focus of a public relations initiative is to build relationships with your target audience in order to shape a positive opinion of your brand.
This is where we switch the focus to content marketing that will directly benefit your potential customers. For B2Bs, buyers are typically motivated to purchase based on questions like, “will this increase profitability,” “can this reduce our costs” or “how can this enhance productivity?” So, don’t tell them about your product features, but instead, explain how those features answer these motivation questions.
Here is where you can also utilize your customers to tell their stories. What problems did they have, and what solutions did they try prior to working with you? How has working with you solved their issues? This word-of-mouth approach is by far the most effective way to build credibility.
Furthermore, if your product is technical then you’ll need to not only appeal to potential buyers but educate them. By crafting compelling and informative stories about how you’re providing solutions for your customer’s biggest pain points, you’ll be able to convey expertise, build trust, improve conversions and connect with more potential customers.
Your next challenge will be to determine how you will get these stories in front of as many potential customers as possible. This is really the heart of a modern-day PR program where you can build up a list of publications that best target your audience and pitch them the story that you will create. Publishing your stories in top-tier trade publications allows you to maximize the number of prospects that you can reach.
Today, it is better to develop the content (articles) yourself and then put that “publish-ready” piece right into the hands of editors. These PR articles are essentially considered contributed content and can be framed as thought leadership, case studies, industry briefs, etc.
The foundation of an effective B2B PR strategy lies in clearly defining how you will measure success and then constantly monitoring and tracking your progress. What are your Key Performance Indicators or KPIs?
PR can affect a number of different aspects of a business. For example, you may want to measure increased website traffic or how the content you create can be leveraged for sales collateral or investor pitch presentations. Maybe you are focused on SEO and want to build up a treasure chest of backlinks or are you only concerned about qualified leads.
Regardless, PR is not some open pit that you throw money into and hope for the best. You can measure your success and determine if what you are doing is working or what needs improvement by outlining your KPIs in your strategy and then building tactics and outreach around them.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” -Roman philosopher Seneca
There’s no doubt that a leading B2B PR agency and a solid PR strategy will help your business grow. However, creating a communications strategy that influences your market and puts you a step above your competitors is easier said than done. Taking the time to delve into each of these key components of a B2B PR strategy will go a long way toward making sure you are successful. Or you can hire a B2B PR agency that will help you boost your sales in no time. Make sure you contact us to see if you fit within our program! You can set up a time for a free session or give us a call.