The role of PR in your B2B marketing strategy
What is PR and why is it important in B2B marketing?
It’s fair to say that PR isn’t easy to define. In fact, Google Trends data shows that ‘What is PR’ is one of the most frequently searched terms on the topic of public relations.
However, to put it simply, PR is all about building reputation through communication. A PR person’s job is to build trust, awareness and credibility for brands by engaging with audiences through a number of different channels.
There isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to good PR. Strategies will be dependent on the business, its target audience and its goals. At No Brainer, our B2B PR campaigns combine earned, paid, shared and owned techniques to deliver meaningful results that align with bespoke objectives for each client.
Our experience shows us that when it comes to marketing and PR, the opportunity for B2B organisations is huge, but the thinking has to go beyond just media coverage. Here’s why…
PR is an important brand-building tool
PR can open up a host of growth opportunities for businesses, especially in today’s highly competitive market.
I recently came across an interesting report that stated ‘B2B marketers need to start looking at brand-building to drive long-term growth.’ The research showed that brand-building reduces price sensitivity and increases margins and as a result, is one of the main drivers of long-term growth and profit.
The same report also highlighted the importance of share of voice. Whilst the share of voice rule, which states that ‘brands that set their share of voice above their share of the market, will tend to grow’, has been tried and tested in the B2C arena for over 50 years, plenty of studies suggest that the same rules also apply in B2B markets.
With the evolution of the digital landscape, consumers have a myriad of options when it comes to choosing a product or service. People trust established brands and in such a competitive market, it’s clear that brand reputation and share of voice is more important now than it ever has been before.
Whether it’s through shared tactics such as online reviews and organic social or through earned media such as blogs, podcasts, whitepapers or media coverage – when companies invest in their brand reputation, the results are staggering.
Brand trust matters
Brand trust is a big deal when it comes to purchasing decisions. In the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 81% of people agreed ‘I must be able to trust a brand to do what is right.’
Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic has sharpened consumer attitudes and brand trust has become a valuable asset during this time. In times of crisis, people turn to the brands that they know and trust – the ones they can rely on.
But how can brands build trust?
As well as having a strong brand reputation, having clear communication is at the heart of achieving brand trust. A well-executed PR campaign combines tactics that will create and develop valuable relationships with a business’s target audience – often this is through media coverage online, in print or shared through social media.
Emotion also plays a key role, if a buyer has positive feelings towards your brand, they are much more likely to convert and as long as the experience matches up to expectations, they will likely come back again. Reputation is everything and people are much more likely to work with businesses they perceive to be trustworthy.
The decision-making process is complex
The B2B buying journey is often longer and involves multiple touchpoints and decision-makers, each armed with their own research and knowledge. As such, the buying process is much more complex and it’s crucial that marketers take this into consideration in their strategy.
Alongside credibility and trust, B2B buyers are looking for businesses that prove to be highly knowledgeable and have expertise in their field. That’s why positioning yourself as a thought leader is so important.
As a thought leader, an individual can provide answers to detailed questions a target audience is asking but also direct a conversation with their own knowledge and experience.
LinkedIn recently teamed up with Edelman to produce a ‘B2B Thought leadership impact study’ and the results really do speak for themselves. A total of 89% of respondents said thought leadership had enhanced their perceptions of a brand, with 49% suggesting it would influence their purchasing decisions.
Many see LinkedIn as just a networking platform, but in reality, it’s an incredibly powerful tool for positioning yourself as an expert in your field and reaching your target audience. It’s a tactic we recommend implementing into most B2B strategies and it proves to work time and time again.
PR is a need not a want
Often marketing – including public relations – is seen as a luxury within the B2B sector, but hopefully we’ve proven that it’s an essential tool for companies who are looking to grow and evolve their business.
There is increasingly more competition and companies can’t rely on customers simply finding their business. You have to stick your head above the parapet and make sure you are being noticed, and for the right reasons.
These are just a few examples of the impact PR can have on your B2B marketing strategy, but if you’re interested in exploring this further, get in touch and we’d be happy to tell you more.