Are you looking to learn more about B2B public relations? Whether you want to start using PR or are looking for ways to improve your approach, read on to discover the benefits of B2B PR, the best tactics and how to develop a strategy for your business.
What is B2B PR?
Public relations uses the media to influence audience perceptions and is most often used by an organisation to increase brand awareness, while building and maintaining a positive reputation.
PR can be used effectively by a B2B organisation to communicate the value of its products and services to other businesses and can be combined with other marketing efforts to help generate new leads.
It’s these benefits that make PR a marketing priority for businesses in all sectors.
As PR can be used to communicate with audiences on every level – regional, national and international – it can enable you to talk to your customers, wherever they are.
Learn more about our PR services and how we can support your business.
Why is PR important for B2B?
B2B is booming, contributing to the income of around 82 per cent of UK firms and accounting for 44 per cent of the UK’s total business turnover – a whopping £1.7 trillion₁.
But most B2B firms are failing to utilise PR in the same way that B2C brands do, despite brand awareness playing a significant role in the growth and success of B2B organisations and PR supporting the customer journey at every stage of the marketing funnel.
This presents the perfect opportunity for B2B organisations; if your competitors aren’t utilising the power of PR, it provides you with an even greater opportunity to get ahead.
In fact, research from Cision₂ shows that PR is the perfect marketing channel for reaching B2B audiences, as business decision makers are above average when it comes to consuming news; 56.1 per cent are more interested in news and current affairs than the average consumer.
Here are just a few examples of why B2B PR is important for your business:
A Hubspot survey₃ of B2B marketers found the number one goal was ‘increasing brand awareness’; 47 per cent of respondents ranked it as their main priority, ahead of increasing engagement, advertising products, lead generation and closing deals.
Maintain your reputation
PR enables businesses to deliver a constant flow of good news stories and maintain positive sentiment. It is the perfect medium for getting messages out about your business’ investments, innovations, CSR commitments or sustainability achievements.
Having a journalist write about your business provides third-party endorsement and increases your credibility and trustworthiness among audiences.
Keep up or stay ahead of the competition
Share of voice measures brand visibility on a specific marketing channel. In PR, this means how often your brand is mentioned in the media compared to your competitors. Media monitoring tools can help you to determine whether your competitors are hogging the media limelight.
Talk to new audiences
To grow a business, you need to grow your customer base. Whether you are targeting new sectors or new international markets, PR can act as a conversation starter and introduce you to new audiences in a creative way.
Also, audiences are becoming more passive, using a ‘News Find Me’ approach, where they rely on news to reach them via their social media feed rather than actively searching for news. PR can help put your business in their feeds via media coverage.
Launch new products or services
How do you get the message out about your latest offering? Experts estimate that an individual is exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day. PR can help you to cut through the noise and make you more memorable.
Nurture relationships with existing customers
We consume 500 minutes of media per day, on average (Cision). In a world of non-stop communication, PR can help keep brands in front of their audiences and reach them in ways that advertising can’t, by demonstrating the benefit of your products or service to users, for example.
Drive traffic to your website
A study₄ of 500 Software as a Service (SaaS) companies found that PR and news-related blog posts receive double the organic traffic of educational type posts, but only 12 per cent of firms are actually using PR in their marketing mix!
Influence opinion when things go wrong
No matter what industry you operate in, having a crisis comms strategy in place is vital. Sometimes things go wrong, but the way you respond and the speed at which you deliver your response can impact audience opinions for the better.
How to create a B2B PR strategy
A PR strategy is a comprehensive plan that maps out your activity over a certain timeframe.
This ensures a steady flow of communication throughout the year and allows you to plan ahead for key events, whether that’s a company milestone, product launch or peak season.
When developing a PR strategy for B2B, it is important to research and review any previous or current activity so you can better understand what has or hasn’t worked.
Understanding your organisation’s business goals will enable you to set targets and develop a PR strategy that supports these aims by talking to the right audiences at the right times.
Who are your audience? Every strategy starts with knowing who you want to target. This helps to inform how, where and when you deliver your PR campaign, as well as determining the messages your send.
In B2B, individuals are making decisions on behalf of the organisations they worked for, essentially making the organisation your customer, so keep this in mind when thinking about their interests and challenges.
How knowledgeable is your audience – do they understand industry jargon, or do you need to talk in layman’s terms? The audience’s knowledge level should also influence the type of messaging that you deliver.
Understand the customer journey
The customer journey is typically longer and more complex for B2B, with those involved in the decision-making process looking for long-term solutions.
Purchasing decisions will most often lie with multiple people who all have different priorities – ROI vs operational efficiencies, for example – which should be taken into consideration when developing your B2B PR strategy.
This means that you need to educate customers at various stages of their journey to underline the value your business offers.
Who are your B2B competitors and how are they using PR? Analysing their PR activity will help you to understand the media landscape and the type of stories that gain coverage.
It can also give you a head start with developing your media lists, helping you to identify the journalists that cover your sector.
Read the news is the best source of inspiration and it can give you ideas on the best ways to highlight your USPs.
Once you know who your audience is you can start to plan how you will reach them via the media. What media do they consume?
If your B2B audience is local to you then you may want to prioritise regional and business press.
For audiences that operate in a specific sector, you will need to look at trade press and trade verticals.
It’s also important to consider the age demographics of your audience, as this could influence the type of media that you target, such as print or online.
What are your key messages and how will you communicate these to your audience?
PR can be used throughout the B2B customer journey:
- Awareness Stage – make your audience aware of your brand
- Consideration Stage – demonstrate how your business can offer solutions to customer problems
- Decision Stage – show your value and USPs
To gain the attention of potential customers, you should aim to do at least one of the following:
To be successful, a B2B PR strategy needs a mix of messages and approaches to engage audiences.
These are some examples that work well across all B2B sectors:
Opinion pieces and interviews give you an opportunity to demonstrate your organisation’s expertise. Who are your company spokespeople? Having more than one with their own specialism – IT, finance or health and safety, for example – underlines your value and can open up additional opportunities in other sections of the media.
Customer case studies
These can be used to show the benefits of your products or services to end-users. Have you saved a customer time or money? Have you helped to reduce their carbon footprint? Getting a customer to tell their story provides extra endorsement for your brand and additional credibility.
Can you demonstrate unique insight? Reports, analysis and whitepapers can show credibility and authority in your sector and work as an additional trust factor for potential customers. Unique data can make a powerful addition to a PR campaign and provide new opportunities for your key spokespeople.
Does your company have the knowledge and skills to help potential clients and peers to solve a problem, improve processes or increase efficiency? Use how-to guides to demonstrate the expertise of your team and your position as an industry leader.
When is the best time to talk to your audience? Are your products or services more relevant at certain times of the year? Create a PR calendar to plan out your activity, so you can keep up momentum throughout the year and be more proactive during seasonal dips.
B2B PR tactics and campaigns
A successful PR strategy relies on a mixture of tactics to get your brand in front of the right audience all year round. The following should be considered as part of the B2B PR mix.
This refers to news stories that you are actively drafting and issuing to the media. It is the most-commonly used method by B2B brands that want to gain media coverage.
Proactive PR is used to share positive news on company developments, such as a major investment in people or equipment, an expansion to the business, or a CSR initiative.
This tactic can be used to put your brand at the centre of topical or newsworthy conversations. Is there a trending topic in your industry? Reactive PR opportunities – also known as newsjacking – allow you to provide expert commentary, such as analysis or predictions.
It can be unpredictable and most often journalists will need comments asap, but it can get your brand into media titles it might not otherwise be featured in.
Print trade titles will often have a forward features list that details the topics it will cover in each issue. This can be used as a starting point to understand what is newsworthy in your industry and to identify the topics you might want to focus on.
If you want to keep up momentum around a topic or service area, then a campaign approach may be useful. A PR campaign typically includes a series of linked activities on a specific theme, helping you to gain and maintain momentum over a period of time.
For example, a PR campaign around a new product could include an announcement, launch event, product reviews and case studies.
Talk to our team for support and advice with your PR strategy and management.
B2B PR examples
Having worked in B2B PR for more than 40 years, R&Co Communications has worked with businesses of all sizes across every sector.
From law to logistics, healthcare to finance, we’ve delivered PR campaigns that put our clients at the heart of conversations within their respective industries on a regional and national level.
Our recent work includes supporting the launch a £16 million animal hospital in Basildon with a PR campaign that secured broadcast, print and online coverage.
Take a look at our case studies to learn more about the results of our award-winning PR work.
Want to find out more about how our PR agency can support your business?
At R&Co Communications, we believe everything starts with a conversation – so let’s talk.