5 important changes to the B2B PR rule book

It’s an exciting time to be involved in PR. Yet, the methods for B2B PR have recently changed. Have you been changing with them? Find out how the new rules of PR affect your B2B company.

The ins and outs of a B2B public relations strategy have evolved, and whether we like it or not, we’re in a new age, where the rules have changed and we need to follow suit. Welcome to the new era of PR and B2B content marketing strategy.

Social media and new technology tools have changed the playing field — for the better! Now you’re more in control of your message. Good quality PR doesn’t just get attention — it positions your company to:

  • Change perceptions
  • Shape opinions
  • Drive brand preferences
  • Generate new business opportunities

Are you in? Here’s what you need to do.

1. You’re in the Driver’s Seat of Your Content

B2B PR is far more than creating press releases and throwing them into the reporter pool, waiting for a bite. Not that releases should be avoided. They just need to be effective. To learn what to include in a press release to make it catch fire, click here.

With the decimation of the ranks of many media outlets, an opportunity has emerged. More media outlets may want a hand-crafted article from you — which demands a dedicated B2B content marketing strategy.

This change puts you in the driver’s seat. Gone are the days of hoping and praying that a staff-written article puts your B2B company in a positive light. This is an opportunity for you to position your brand as an industry authority. Present new angles for your industry’s challenges, and subtly showcase your company’s solutions without being overtly self-promotional.Remember to include a stimulating visual component to your message, which increases engagement.

Content marketing allows B2Bs to connect with their target audience while establishing their expertise. –Jonathan Gebauer

This is still a far cry from the “build it and they will come” philosophy that many companies desire — it requires work even after your content is created. Don’t just expect that people will rush in droves to view your content. Use social media to distribute and build anticipation for your content.

2. Don’t Water It Down

Many B2B companies mistakenly shy away from targeted PR methods because they believe their industry “doesn’t fit,” or “is too complex” to be showcased effectively. Contrary to this belief, your industry’s complexity can be a boon when featured correctly.

In the pre-Internet days, it was tougher to target a specific audience. Thus, companies often diluted their message to appeal to a wider group. That’s no longer necessary. The reality is that you have your own specific audience — feed them with industry-relevant content.

You and your business offer needed value — it’s time to stand out! Sprinkle — not overload — your message with sector-specific jargon and insights that will build credibility and broaden visibility.

This doesn’t mean you should use over-the-top, technical jargon — but it does mean you can show off your industry expertise a little more. We’re not talking fluff terms such as as “cutting edge technology” or “industry-leading design,” but solid facts to pique potential buyers’ interest. The overuse of those “fluff’ terms created a bland message that was indistinguishable from other companies.

3. Go Social

Like many today, you may wonder if social media really fits into the B2B field. It absolutely does, and it can play a major role in your PR and B2B content marketing strategy. A whopping 55% of B2B buyers search for information on social media — if you’re not utilizing these tools, you’re neglecting a major component of your PR strategy.

Much of social media’s value is in engagement and exchanges of ideas with your community. –Lee Odden

Discover where your customers are on social media — most B2B companies have succeeded on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook — and get into the mix. Humanize your brand by engaging with your potential buyers on these social networks. Promote your content (blog posts, case studies, white papers) with strong calls to action that motivate your audience to go further.

Then, use metrics to see how your content performs. Monitor your CTRs, retweets, mentions and more to see what works and what doesn’t.

4. Target Your Audience

Remember the old adage, “any press is good press”? Forget about it. It’s not true in B2B PR. Stop chasing people outside of your audience — it boils down to wasted effort. Focus on growing and targeting a relevant audience. If you’re a B2B tech company, for example, selling to IT managers, you won’t get much mileage on a site geared to sales and marketing professionals.

Discover what trade publications — online and print — people in your industry are reading. A good place to start is to simply ask a few customers what publications they read. An impressive 67% of a buyer’s journey is done digitally, so make online publications a part of your B2B PR. These publications can play a key role in positioning you as an authority, building credibility, and generating brand awareness.

5. Share Your Audience’s Concerns

Your customers like the rest of us have pain points. They worry about what the future will bring. Your PR campaign should reflect this. Companies are concerned about what will grow their bottom line — how will you impact their sales pipeline, footprint, and margin?

Determine which pain points are most pressing for your customers and create messaging and content to reflect that. If you’re not sure, do a quick informal survey asking them what keeps them up at night. What questions and concerns do prospects mention on sales calls?

Once you “feel” your customers and prospects’ pain, design your PR to reflect that. Speak your customers and prospects’ language. Demonstrate your understanding and offer solutions.

Your company’s PR efforts need to have a specific purpose. Whether this purpose is to increase brand awareness, generate new leads, or shorten sales cycles, it gives your PR a focused goal.

Incorpoate these five steps into your B2B PR and you’ll start seeing results. Consider it your rite of passage into B2B PR.