Latest industry views and advice

March 14

B2B businesses lend themselves well to producing great PR and editorial content that leads to media coverage.

I’ve seen that fact up close for the past 20 years: having great products and services that solve customer problems innovatively – along with articulate, passionate and engaging experts to evangelise about them and associated industry issues – translates into compelling story telling.

But while many B2B businesses might have those elements, not all of them know how to tap into the knowledge that resides in their companies or convert it into news, feature articles or other content.

This was one of the topics tackled in the recent Gorkana webinar, The rise of earned media, which reviewed the shift in the way media-consuming audiences are now valuing content they consider independent and expert.

The right B2B PR agency

Simpatico PR MD, Patrick Barrett, said: “PR people have the skills to put it [B2B business knowledge/expertise] through the scrutiny of what journalists want; analyse and question whether what the company puts out is newsworthy. You need an editorial team able to explore the business, question it and how it sits in the world.”

The caveat to that statement is companies need the right B2B PR people: they will have either existing knowledge of your industry or are willing to dig deep to gain an understanding of the challenges your customers are facing; they will have the ability to tease out the interesting topics, decode the industry jargon and turn the information into something usable – either for the relevant media or for your own media channels.

As the PR people you choose to work with develop their knowledge of both your business and the industry you operate in, you should end up with an extension of your in-house team with an active antenna for what’s going while generating new ideas and opportunities to participate in communications activity.

And, as Barrett commented, the content co-created by you and your PR team can then be curated, i.e. re-used and re-purposed.

While the webinar discussion emphasised the need to connect the respective media methods – earned, owned and paid – the sources they quoted point to a renaissance in the value of earned media:

Referencing the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, an international survey of consumer trust in organisations, nearly two-thirds (65%) trust experts, including academics, analysts and journalists. This reiterates the value of enabling your company experts to engage with the media – not only can they tell your story with authority, they are perceived as inherently trustworthy! The statistics in the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising 2015 study tend to back Edelman’s claims, citing 66% of people trusting editorial content in independent media and 70% branded websites.

Putting earned media in its “rightful place”

Tom Ritchie – product and marketing director, Cision EMEA, said: “This is putting earned media in its rightful place and the change in the way people trust traditional speakers and commentators [shows a] shift in the importance of earned media in communications.”

But, despite this fact, earned media apparently receives the least investment among media spending.

So, how can you make the most of the earned media opportunity and the credibility it brings to your B2B business?

  1. Before you think product, think problem. What are the problems your customers are dealing with and how deep is your understanding of those problems? Once you’ve established you’re a trustworthy expert in their problems, you’ve earned more of a right to push your product or solution.
  1. What issues are newly emerging, or can only just be seen heading down the line in the distance? The arrival of a new piece of legislation, for example, will eventually be a “bun fight” for who can be the go-to expert. So, get in early with clarity about the facts and make sure you remain the authority throughout.
  1. Prepare your people to handle the media. Investment in media training for your experts – complete with simulated interview situations – is an investment in them becoming trusted media contacts in whose hands your company reputation is safe.
  1. Remember: marketing messages are mostly anathema to journalists. Yes, the ultimate aim is to sell something. However, start with a story that places your product or service in the context of your customer’s world and what they care about rather than as a stand-alone, new invention that should inspire awe in its own right. If you’ve created an HG Wells Time Machine that can take you backwards and forwards in time, ignore the previous advice. 
  1. If your content is written: write it and re-write it. The first version of any content co-created by you and your PR advisors is likely to be either too steeped in your company/industry jargon and key messages, or lacking the killer quality that will resonate with the reader. It’s a collaborative process but the end result should leave your audience in no doubt about how well you understand their problems and the depth and breadth of the expertise you can bring to them.

If you are a B2B business that needs help in making the most of earned media and/or owned media content, contact Metamorphic PR.

photo c/o Olu Eletu.

The full Gorkana webinar is available here:

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