When it comes to the B2B world, buyers are quite sophisticated. When they are researching solutions, they know the difference between an advertisement and a trade publication story. An ad (also referred to as paid media) is a paid announcement for a product and/or company. So, while that makes it at least somewhat biased, it does not alone make advertising good or bad. There are plenty of times when an ad can generate a sales lead. However, the power of earned media – which may include a write-up in a major publication – can also generate sales leads. However, more importantly, it delivers an instant and irrevocable perception of trust and credibility.
CEOs, CMOs, and CFOs in the industrial and B2B technology sectors are increasingly taking advantage of the profound power of earned media in today’s digital landscape to boost sales leads and ultimately drive revenue.
So, what is earned media, how do you generate it, and finally how do you measure it?
Examples of earned media
To begin with, here are some examples of what earned media may look like:
- Your company is featured in a trade publication article about “How to Solve this ‘Major Pain Point’.” One of your customers is included in that and describes in detail how your company fixed that issue for them.
- An online news site dedicates an entire story to an up-and-coming industry trend. Within that article, you are shown as an example of a company leading the way.
- Someone shares your content on their social media feed because they like your product.
- A review of your product or service is featured on an unaffiliated blog or website.
Harness the power of earned media
So, how do you harness the power of earned media when it seems like most of the examples above are somewhat out of your control? For example, how would you get a journalist to write an article about a trend that you have seen developing? This is where the power of industrial PR can make a huge difference. Rankin PR has developed a huge list of established relationships with the key players at almost every industrial trade publication in the world. We not only pitch them story ideas but are able to secure those coveted feature articles mentioned above. By doing it this way, you control the narrative.
Adding 3rd-party validation
Furthermore, you can also get your customers involved. For example, there was a contractor in North Carolina who had just installed a new cooling tower, manufactured by one of our clients, at a local college. He was very proud of the work and the college was thrilled to have replaced an old leaking cooling tower that was in their own words “as loud as a locomotive.” So, he agreed to be interviewed for essentially a case study article about the project. Rankin PR turned that into an insightful, educational story and got it published in more than 15 different industry trade publications.
For the client, this delivered that 3rd-party validation that is so important. In fact, according to SEMrush, 90% of people are much more likely to trust a recommended brand. Furthermore, SEMrush reports that these word-of-mouth referrals result in five times more sales than paid ads. Additionally, because that feature article was essentially free, the ROI is always better with earned media than with any other media investment.
The earned media also delivered credibility, awareness, and sales collateral. Now our client’s salespeople can use the story to attract more prospects through email campaigns, social media, as well as on their website.
The power of earned media relies on strategic placements
The key is which publications these articles get published in, not just that it is published in 15 trade publications. Effective earned media coverage requires a strategic approach that defines target publications and individuals with whom the brand wants to establish a relationship.
For example, we often hear about a prospect wanting to be in Forbes or the Wall Street Journal. While those publications are fantastic, they often do not produce the most fruit. The WSJ may get investors interested in your company, but their audience is unlikely to generate more than 1-2% of your ideal customers. On the other hand, there are typically a dozen or more trade publications where that ratio is completely flipped and 98-99% of the audience is your target customer base.
The long-term power of PR
Earned media goes beyond just delivering short-term credibility, it grows and protects a company’s long-term reputation. As another example, when an article is published online it typically stays there forever. In fact, Google penalizes you for removing content. Furthermore, these trade publication sites typically have very high domain authority (DA) – which is just another way to say Google places a higher value on their content. Therefore, they are much more likely to appear higher on the search engine results page (SERP).
Going one step further, with digital earned media you can develop of large number of backlinks on these high DA websites. These backlinks are the building blocks of your SEO and will help increase where your websites reside on the SERP for a given search phrase or term.
Sizing up the power of earned media
B2B PR can generate a lot of earned media. Over time, companies often begin seeing certain metrics move in a positive direction. However, there are some key performance indicators (KPIs) that you and your PR team should be monitoring to ensure you are maximizing results. We have written an entire blog on the best KPIs for PR and it is worth reviewing.
Realize the key to B2B marketing is earned media
To thrive in an ever-changing digital landscape, you must remain agile, responsive, and continue to build strong relationships. Earned media outlets can help by essentially vouching for you. After all, consumers want authenticity. As trust in paid ads decreases, earned media rises to the top as the primary driver of trust and credibility.
Lacking the time to really dive into your earned media strategy? Rankin PR has cultivated relationships with media outlets across multiple B2B industries, from engineering and manufacturing to aerospace and industrial. Reach out to us.