How to build a B2B PR Plan in six easy steps

This article goes right back to basics, and looks at how you might put together a plan for a Business to business PR campaign.

1. It is best to start by defining your audience as clearly and precisely as possible, in terms of their industry sector, their role and function within their organisation, but to go further than this, and consider their interests and likely concerns.

2. Next, I would suggest considering your marketing messages. How can you present the best of your company in clear terms – say one or two sentences – that your customers will relate to, and which will inspire them to want to find out more about your company, or even contact you?

3. What resources are available? – Besides starting with some funds to cover the incidental costs, a PR plan will need some other kinds of resources: “material” in terms of interesting, eye-catching stories, images, anecdotes, examples of customer applications and expert input. An exciting news item can make a press release – an ideal resource. Then, having identified some resources, it may be good to think how to use them to the best effect, bearing in mind that more in depth material is usually used an exclusive basis and news items are only topical for a short period. By now you may have an idea of how your PR campaign is going to look.

4. Acquire a media list. Maybe you can assemble some contacts and make a list yourself, or maybe it’s better to take a short cut and get an instant press list by hiring a PR specialist who’s worked with the right contacts and can bring a media list ready made. The better you know the media – how they put their publications together, what they like to publish, and when – the more successful your campaign will be.

5. Consider timing and build some dates into your calendar. Certain dates may be fixed. You can plan media communications to work around industry events, trade shows and conferences, bearing in mind the dates you require for your product releases, and likely dates for news releases and company announcements. When these dates are pegged to the plan it’s possible to work backwards, and plan activities to hit the right dates and deadlines. It may be useful to think about the seasonality of the market, and whether to work around holiday periods, and also to dovetail with sales campaigns and other marketing plans.

6. Good management often means looking at results to see what lessons can be learned and feeding this in to the next stage of the plan. There are some neat tools on the market to help you see what has been published about your business and assess its likely reach and impact.

Having suggested that you take this kind of approach to make a PR plan, I would recommend allowing for some flexibility so that you can react to industry news as it unfolds.

PR Lessons from the headlines

The diversity of the news headlines struck me today.

The comms team in Downing street probably hoped that “Brexit Good News” would dominate the newsstands this morning, but they could not have known that they would be  competing with Britain “Colder than Moscow”, “The biggest breakthough in brain science for 50 years” (Huntingdon’s Disease) and tributes to the much loved broadcaster Keith Chegwin?

The diversity of these headlines shows certain truths about PR and the media.

Real news is impossible to predict. News is, by its very nature, unpredictable and the  element of surprise is one of the reasons why a story is new and interesting. This is not always good for PR departments, which usually plan their key media announcements quite a long way in advance. Even the best planned PR announcement can get pushed aside by an all-embracing news event such as Britain blanketed in snow and ice.

Today, more than ever, each publication knows its readership extremely well – their viewpoints, pet hates and interests – and their editors are dedicated to keeping their readers informed and entertained, and are careful to select the top stories that their readers care about most. This means that each editor is effectively creating their own version of the day’s news. Creating powerful headlines is an important part of the editors’ art, and editors are influential people because their headlines will be setting the scene for the conversations that many of us are having during the day.

Headlines sell newspapers and magazines and publications of all kinds are vying for our attention. Fewer people buy the same newspaper from the newsstands every day, so a paper with an eye-catching headline is more likely to sell out.

The same principles are true for trade publications and business titles, so we can apply these lessons to our PR stories for the trade and business media. We should remember that each publication has its own unique place in the market and we must never lose sight of the fact that editors can choose whether or not to publish our stories. We will be more successful if we also follow the main stories that the media are reporting day by day and week by week. We need to ensure that what we provide to editors is genuinely worthwhile, interesting, and of importance to their readers. If we can get this right, we will have a very effective and efficient PR operation.

Technology vendors – PR to target SMEs

Targeting PR campaigns to SMEs is not easy, yet this is a market that some of  my technology clients are aiming for. SMEs are the companies that typically have any number of people up to about 200.

Thinking about PR and media for this audience, it is difficult to find a media channel that reaches them all, because they  include so many different kinds of companies. They could be retailers, manufacturers, service providers, professional services, or providers of food, drink or hospitality, and they have very little in common except that they are businesses that fit a certain size bracket.

I believe that to conduct a successful promotion, you need to know your customers better than this. There will be groups of customers in different sectors and some may stand out as being more attractive than others. It’s also likely that the clients in different sectors may use your products or services in varying ways, and for different reasons. So it may be helpful to break that SME sector down into vertical markets which will have their own trade media, exhibitions, newsletters and forums.

It can be a very interesting exercise to conduct a Straw Poll and see what media, magazines and websites the customers actually read, and where they would look for new suppliers. There’s a lifestyle factor too. For example, people who travel a lot by car may listen to radio, and people who travel by air may prefer to use laptops and tablet computers and of course, online news services and discussion groups that go to particular groups are great for reaching particular sectors.

 

 

Exports, languages and PR overseas

Online communications are rapidly making the world feel smaller, but Marketing should still think “local”. When it comes to selling in countries where English is not the first language, sometimes it is a good idea to  prepare the PR material in the local language.

You may say: “Everyone understands English, so we can promote our company in English,” and of course, often technical terms are universal worldwide. However this is a little lazy. Making the effort to communicate in the local language can make a great difference. Most editors speak English, of course, but they don’t have time to translate the material we provide. Anything that makes their life easier will help your PR campaign.

With a little effort, it is always possible to find individuals who can translate technical marketing information into other languages. There may be a small cost, but in my opinion, the cost is extremely small in the wider context of selling overseas, which usually involves a lot of expensive travelling. Translating key press releases into local languages is a simple step that every company should consider if they are serious about their exports to the regions where English is not the first language.