Business to business PR continues to evolve. Today, in B2B marketing, thought leadership continues to lead the march, as smart public relations practitioners and marketing pros work together to build credibility, share of voice, visibility and their clients’ expert positioning.
It’s true, social media’s most obvious application is in the consumer products and services sector. However, B2B companies cannot afford to overlook this important content marketing, influencer marketing and reputation management tool. When evaluating priorities, we’ve heard countless business to business marketing executives say they view social media as a luxury or a nuisance, but rarely a priority.
The social channel has distinct advantages in the B2B PR and marketing universe that many do not realize. Regardless of whether organization markets to other businesses in the professional services, healthcare, food manufacturing, insurance, animal health, education, or nonprofit/association markets, PR and social media serve and support three primary roles, which can protect a brand, as well as effectively promote it through industry thought leadership (yes, B2B companies can build brands too!).
One benefit of B2B public relations and social, is that search engines value these channels and the fresh content they hold as credible and important. What’s more, when quality content resides on a media website, regardless of industry, Google recognizes the authority of that site. If your online marketing team effectively synopsizes, optimizes, syndicates and promotes these articles through smart SEO tactics, the results can be significant. We’ve seen search traffic increase by 20% to 30% by consistently leveraging PR results and content.
The days of hiring a content machine to pump out dozens of articles each week are over. Google’s algorithm is far too smart for that outdated tactic, which relied on quantity over quality. Conversely, PR content such as news releases, white papers and media placements (including bylined articles, business features and trend stories) are highly influential and powerful. The repurposed value is significantly greater than the impact an article has when it first runs. In fact, we counsel businesses marketing to other businesses that 80% of the power of public relations today comes from repurpose saying and leveraging PR content and media placements. That’s where measurement comes in as well. If you are promoting articles online, you can easily determine the impact by evaluating social sharing, website traffic to specific landing pages, social follower growth, conference/tradeshow appointments, online sentiment and other predetermined, measurable outcomes.
Taking proactive measures to manage content on the web can significantly affect inquiries and conversions. Articles, news releases, white papers and other PR-driven content that’s consistently and strategically secured and distributed, can go far to manage a reputation online.
Industry bylined articles, positioning a company as an expert in their field, can lend credibility and shape perception too. If a business regularly secures coverage in their respective trade publications (as well as in vertical trades that reflect their respective customer bases), it should be repurposed and leveraged to positively impact awareness, image and conversion rates.
Social reputations can also be improved through the dissemination of PR content/results. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are some of the primary channels we utilize in our B2B public relations practice. Connecting with industry influencers on LinkedIn and other social channels is an important activity. Identifying conference and tradeshow keynote and breakout session speakers, and engaging in conversations with them, can lead to strategic partnerships and social mentions, which can not only drive awareness but fortify the company’s image.
Many companies distribute sell sheets, brochures, flash drives and other digital and print materials to get the attention of the buyer. While PR content can serve to enhance and protect an online reputation, build thought leadership and drive website traffic, another primary benefit in the world of B2B marketing is its credibility in the sales process. Since media placements are considered third-party endorsements, they offer credibility and demonstrate authority. The smartest B2B marketers we’ve partnered with understand this and, at every sales meeting, have a PR agency representative address the new business development team to share tools that can help them influence decision-makers and close deals.
Another smart sales initiative is to regularly send PR articles and news releases to stakeholders including referral sources, existing and prospective customers, distributors and all sales reps, via email and direct mail. Through marketing automation software, such as SharpSpring, Act-On or Hubspot, you can track the read-through rates and efficacy of the content you serve up. This is where PR fuses not only with online marketing but with direct marketing and sales. This is the accountability that’s been missing in the world of PR since its inception in the 1920s and 30s.
Due to the power of the Internet and its relevance today, B2B public relations is not only more measurable but it’s more accountable now than ever before. If you are marketing to other businesses, put PR to work to boost website traffic, reputation, content marketing, thought leadership and sales. You won’t regret it.