What can B2B marketers learn about PR and content to help their business journey in 2020?
Here are seven stand-out lessons for my B2B marketing colleagues:
1. The blog effect
In the days when it was morphing from “weblog” to “blog”, you couldn’t paya company to have a blog, despite all the arguments in favour. Today, you trip over blogs on the way to the shops; well, at least in the menu bar of many company websites.
When done well, blogs are the owned-media equivalent of front page news headlines: attracting readers, establishing credibility through thought leadership and building a loyal following.
As revealed in a blog post(where else??) earlier this year, thought leadership isn’t just about being clever, it leads to business: 58% of decision makers have awarded business based on it and 60% bought a previously unconsidered product/service.
Effective blogging needs planning, consistency and creativity to compete in a crowded blogosphere.
1. Truth and reputation
The idea of what’s true and what’s false may be more critical than ever. It’s no secret that the availability of information and capability to distribute it quickly online makes all organizations vulnerable if they play fast and loose with the truth.
To businesses it might seem either too obvious (“of course we tell the truth”) or airy-fairy (“I can’t see it on the balance sheet – where is it?”) but make no mistake: truth remains the cornerstone of good public relations; even uncomfortable truths which show you acknowledging your mistakes and committing to putting them right.
2. PR and marketing – investment or cost?
A very successful company we almost worked with had grown organically in its geographic “back yard” and had achieved a market leading position, if not a monopoly. It was keen to replicate this success in a new city where competition was already fierce in its sector. It had a great business model, a city centre office and an experienced team. What it decided to do without was any PR or marketing, despite the struggles of the local team to be heard or taken seriously in the new location. Within months, the company retreated and ultimately disappeared from the new city. Could we have made a difference? We’ll never know, but for an otherwise impressive operation the lack of investment in PR and marketing seemed to be the missing link.
3. Could you be a “giant-killer”?
In the past few years I’ve worked with smaller companies that have punched well above their weight when it came to PR success and resulting market visibility. How did they compete in sectors populated by big players with deep pockets?
From a B2B perspective, innovation is key: if the business is doing innovative work – and this is coupled with a carefully-constructed and presented media narrative – it will earn the right to be seen and heard. And having a senior team agile enough to work closely with its PR consultants means maximising an opportunity to stand out much more quickly.
4. Data – are you sitting on “digital oil”?
The ever-evolving capability available in data analysis for both market research and external communications is turning companies’ own data into something very valuable from a PR and marketing point of view.
Owned data that organisations are sitting on– often unstructured and otherwise impossible for businesses to understand – can be crunched, interpreted and converted into news material and marketing assets that help to establish a company’s expertise based on data-driven evidence. Here’s an example.
5. Cultivating networks and collaboration for PR and marketing success
In my experience, in-house marketing people aren’t known for their regular presence at general business networking events – and who can blame them? However, the search for new marketing service partners through pitch processes can be time-consuming and no guarantee of success. That’s why opting to work with providers well-connected with other agency disciplines fast tracks that process and takes away much of the uncertainty of hiring an unknown quantity.
This is an example where combining PR and content creation expertise with branding and website build and design provided a cohesive solution for the client.
6. The ever-changing media landscape
Did you just blink? In that time, the media landscape has probably changed again.
A recent Public Relations and Communications Association event showed that some long-standing facets of the media remain stubbornly true: despite the avalanche of self-publishing, media brands remain, according to journalist Angela Epstein, “a viable and reliable source of information”.
The rigour that professional journalists apply to their work means businesses that pass the scrutiny test and achieve coverage are earning something money can’t buy. Sun journalist, Richard Moriarty, pointed out that the freedom for anyone to publish means there’s “so much noise and so much crap out there”.
As a marketer or director of a credible B2B company, do everything in your power to avoid being accused of creating either!
Jon Clements is a Chartered Public Relations Practitioner and founder of Metamorphic PR.