Why your B2B PR strategy needs to be proactive.
The main aim of a company's public relations strategy is usually to get that organisation known to the media, as that is likely to lead to more opportunities to be interviewed, asked to provide comment or offer information that will be used in articles. As I have outlined in my previous post on why coverage matters when this is attributed to the company in print or on screen, the result is credibility.
The ideal scenario would be that your company is so good at what it does, your product so useful and your service so fantastic that every journalist knows about you and is gagging to be the first to hear your news, or to gain exclusive comment that they can get out to the hungry masses. They hang on your every tweet, they're Facebook fans and they befriend your CEO on LinkedIn to be sure they don't miss an opportunity to claim to have been the first to know.
Apple is a great example of this type of company. The media is always eager to leak information about the next iProduct and, before his untimely death, keen to get a soundbite from the charismatic and mysterious founder. Of course, this lucky position has its drawbacks too, as the media is just as interested in covering your bad news; your major screw ups. So, what would be thankfully overlooked in a more anonymous enterprise, makes headlines when Apple does it - see the bad press Apple received over the iPhone alarm glitch in January 2011.
In this instance, the organisation needs a dedicated PR operation just to manage the sheer volume of media interest, with much of the team dedicated to administration and crowd control. Here there is far less emphasis on proactive news generation, a relatively easy task when working for a brand that already has the media's attention.
But the vast majority of organisations embarking on public relations programmes are not in this position, and for these organisations, the PR goal is therefore to make it look to the public like they are the kind of company that has the media at its beck and call. In these situations, the PR operation (whether in-house, an appointed agency, or just a committed MD) concentrates on building relationships with journalists, analysts, broadcasters and bloggers behind the scenes, so that the company is permanently on their radar, and when they are covering an issue within its industry, becomes the natural choice to be involved, interviewed or provide expertise and case studies.
With time, the ideal result is that this starts to snowball - as the company gains media coverage, it is seen as more of an industry leader, and is therefore more likely to be approached (or accepted when put forward) for involvement in future articles or programmes.
Of course there are times when companies just get lucky, and are contacted out of the blue by a journalist who has found them and wants to write something on them. This is a fantastic opportunity for free PR, and you should be jumping at it. But this is unlikely to happen consistently, so should not form the basis of your PR strategy if you are after regular results.
The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, founder TopLine Comms, an inbound marketing, B2B content marketing agency and proud HubSpot partner agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say. Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact the B2B PR Blog editorial team via email on [email protected].
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