Guest post by Heather Baker.
Creativity isn’t the sole domain of consumer PR; if anything, it requires more creativity to craft the perfect angle for a complex B2B subject. B2B PR pros need to make themselves experts in their clients’ sectors and use every resource at their disposal to find newsworthy hooks. Because no matter how dry the subject matter might seem, an effective PR practitioner should be able to identify and sell a winning story a mile off.
Use these approaches and tactics to increase the impact of your B2B trade media and social PR efforts.
Become an Expert in Your Client’s Sector
Your creative genius will carry you only so far in this business. For it to truly flourish in the world of B2B PR, you need a solid knowledge of the client’s sector. Hosting a brainstorming session at the outset of the relationship is one way to find out more about your new client and their corner of the market.
Done well, you’ll glean a ton of useful information to enhance your creativity. However, that’s just your starting point. If you really want to be on top of your game, you’ll make learning more about your client’s sector an ongoing project.
This is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: you should be reading all the industry news. As in, everything you can lay your hands and eyes on. Use a media planning tool like Forward Planner to identify events and stories that might be relevant to your client.
You’ll typically find thousands of future events listed, many of which will make the news headlines. Use this information to influence your strategy and you’ll quickly gain an advantage over those competitors who aren’t as forward-thinking.
And remember, social media isn’t just for consumer PR professionals. Twitter in particular is a great place to identify, connect with, and engage influencers. Don’t let that narrow your focus too much though, platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook have also been known to yield really excellent B2B results.
Don’t Rely On Press Releases
Press releases still have their place, but they can no longer be relied upon as the way to get your client’s news out there. Unfortunately, a lot of B2B PR people are still pushing out dull press releases in the hope that they might result in a bit of coverage.
Maybe they will, but that “bit of coverage” isn’t going to set the world on fire and it probably won’t have a positive impact on your client’s business either.
Always evaluate carefully whether a media release is even necessary. The old ‘spray and pray’ technique (if you can even call it a technique) is no substitute for solid media relations or creative campaigns.
A short, personal note to a few of your favourite friendly journalists will have a much better chance of gaining exposure for that interesting data your client collected on [fill in the blank].
If it’s as interesting as you claim it to be (of course it is) you could also look at turning it into an infographic to sweeten the deal. Everyone loves a good infographic, it’s what makes them so shareable.
Kern & Sohn’s gnome experiment is a great example of how ingenious one can be when it comes to finding clever marketing tactics. These guys make precision scales; it doesn’t get more boring than that. Yet, rather than go the tried and tested press release route, they opted instead to create a worldwide gravity experiment and increased their sales by 22%, ‘nuff said.
Find That (Often Elusive) Newsworthy Hook
Brainstorming can be an extremely effective way of coming up with new ideas. As mentioned earlier, a “get to know you” session when a new client comes on-board will see your knowledge of their sector increase ten-fold.
But definitely don’t stop there. Hold regular brainstorm sessions with your team too. And not just the usual “everyone bring their ideas and we’ll talk them through” variety. Try out different creativity mining techniques, such as considering how well known figures or brands might approach a topic.
You could also break the team up into pairs and let them work by themselves first. Sometimes people feel intimidated at the thought of presenting their idea to a big group. Working as a couple initially will alleviate this.
It’s easy for agencies to fall into familiar routines of doing things, so it’s good to find ways of kick-starting the creative process and coming up with fresh ideas
If your client has no news of their own, then have them comment on the news. Get their thoughts on relevant newsworthy topics and establish them as a thought leader in their field. Putting their name out there will keep them front of mind with journalists too, which means the next time they need a comment for an article on your client’s sector there’s a good chance they’ll ask you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold
B2B PR sometimes suffers from timidity or “less than” complex, because it’s generally seen as being not that glamorous. The often smaller budgets only add to this “poor cousin” image. Still, that’s no excuse for being boring.
It’s time to toss aside your beige Wallflower Wendy garb and rip the plastic off that creative cape hanging in the back of your closet. No more holding back, no more dilly-dallying on the side-lines, it’s time to be bold.
There are plenty of PR tactics that make for memorable campaigns, these are just some of the ways you can get your client’s name in the spotlight. Hopefully reading them will spark a creative avalanche of new ideas for you.
Create a special day, week or month.
You’ll be up against the likes of Movember, Meat Free Mondays and my personal favourite, World Chocolate Day, so timing is key. But if you want to take your campaign social, this will certainly do it. People love a good cause and will happily spread the word for something they believe in.
Send journalists a gift.
If you can eat it and it tastes good people will talk about it. And when those people happen to work for a major radio station, even better. Mexican restaurant Benito’s Hat used this tactic to promote their Tweets for Eats campaign. Let’s just say the free airtime they received more than covered the cost of the breakfast burritos they sent.
Steal the competition’s thunder.
This is where Forward Planner comes in handy. Use it to find out what your competitors have in the pipeline and then beat them to it. For example, if you see they’re planning on releasing a report or a piece of research then release yours before they do. It’s a little sneaky, but done right it definitely works.
When she’d not doing important CEO stuff at TopLine Comms, a video, SEO and integrated communications consultancy that also plays host to London’s coolest office dog, Heather Baker wields her virtual red pen as editor-in-chief at the B2B PR Blog with poise.