Business to business PR – B2B PR – is quite a bit different to the public relations where you’re selling to consumers. Essentially, you’re selling to other businesses – the principles are the same but there are some key differences which need to be considered when you’re planning campaigns.
We’ve outlined some of these differences below which may sound simple, but often get forgotten, so we’ve provided a quick checklist which might come in handy if you’re doing some B2B PR.
In a consumer world, you might be PR’ing anything from Greggs’ vegan sausage roll, through to car insurance. In this world, it’s quite likely you’re talking to individuals who are making a decision on their purchase. In a B2B world, the products – or services – are generally of much higher value and the decision to buy could be made by a group of people. So, it’s often a longer turnaround time and you’re trying to target a range of people from the MD, through to the compliance department.
For example, if your product is a bit of fraud prevention software or a new FinTech service, you might be targeting the financial services sector – which is made up of some of the biggest companies in the world, employing thousands of people, based across the globe. So who makes the purchasing decisions and how do you get your client in the right publications for those people to see them?
Reputation is key
As well as a longer turnaround time, credibility in B2B PR is massive. As a consumer, if you decide to buy a vegan sausage roll and you don’t like it, you’ve lost about £1 investment and you move on. In a B2B selling environment, it’s not that simple. Business products and services often require significant investment and if you’re talking software integration, then it’s a big time resource too.
Some companies may have steering groups set up just to decide on what their new HR platform will be, so it’s not a decision that’s going to happen overnight. Making sure you are seen in the right places and getting the right type of article is key. Thought leadership pieces are really valuable in B2B PR and publications are open to these, as long as it’s not just a sales pitch. If you can show your client offering real market insight, that’s going to go much further than if you’re just saying “At Bob’s Software place, we are fab!”
Knowing the audience
Understanding your audience is key – you need to understand the issues that your target businesses or publications are battling with and talk directly to those issues. For example, when GDPR came into force last year, it was on everyone’s agenda and almost every business had a vested interest, but if you’re trying to sell enterprise software to a publication that targets sole traders… hmm.
This is why the world of PR is so interesting – to us anyway – there’s nothing better than building up a new press list of publications that are relevant to your client. Plus, you have to get to know those publications and how they operate – do they cover case studies? Do they accept opinion pieces? How many months in advance do they plan their features?
Finding the story
Some B2B campaigns can be pretty niche – if your client manufactures a specialist part of a specialist bit of equipment that’s only used in the Winter, you might feel like there aren’t a lot of campaigns you can create. But it’s just about finding the story – is the company going through a significant period of growth? Is there a rush on for their parts in a certain sector? Does their part give them an insight into a topical matter? i.e. has the invention of their product made 50% cost savings across the board?
There’s always a story, it’s just a case of finding it and getting it out to the press.
At Front Door Communications, we work across a number of B2B PR campaigns including Credas, the ID verification firm. With Credas, we are helping them talk to the property sector. We used market research to find out how prepared estate agents in the UK were for a new regulatory requirement to prevent money laundering. The research found that a third of estate agents didn’t have the right processes in place to pass the compliance checks, which gave us the headline we needed for a story.
This campaign secured coverage in the top property titles as well as leading to a secondary piece of research in conjunction with one of the most influential titles in the sector.
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About the Author
Lynsey Walden is Co-Director at Front Door Communications and has over 15 years of experience in public relations. She has worked for Lloyds Bank and Weber Shandwick, one of the largest PR agencies in the UK, before joining GoCompare in 2007 to manage PR and digital marketing for several years.