How can your B2B PR and content marketing do more with less – and what can it learn from Daft Punk, David Bowie and Led Zeppelin?
FT columnist, Janan Ganesh, wrote – shortly after the French electronic music duo hung up their helmets after 30 years in the music business – that it was their “retention of mystique” that made the group “precious beings in a chatty age”.
Daft Punk, Ganesh insists, “showed the world the advantages of reticence” in contrast to the “verbose smarm of corporate ‘engagement’, both with customers and staff”, while taking a swipe at corporate PR for being “so vast in scale and simpering in style”.
Ouch. For anyone involved in B2B PR and content marketing, that gets you where it hurts. Isn’t engagement via regular and planned communications what we’re supposed to be doing for the good of our businesses, clients, colleagues, investors, potential employees, the community and so on? Are we really being “verbose”, “smarmy”, “simpering” and should we therefore be apologising for it?
And before you think it couldn’t get any worse, Ganesh explains how Daft Punk “in not trying hard to be adored”, actually succeeded in being adored, as opposed to the “air of desperation that is emetic in a…product seller as in a lover”.
Effective self-publishing = effective self-editing
Suggesting to a B2B marketer, communications professional or business owner that our next campaign will, instead, consist of some extreme aloofness, followed by studied remoteness to maintain an air of mystique would probably get you fired.
In an age where B2B PR, content and marketing communications activity are no longer mediated solely by specialist publications (along with national business and broadcast media), surely this gives us licence to publish/broadcast what we want, when we want, where we want.
Maybe this speaks to the point that Ganesh is making about business (and political) communications: just because you can, does it mean you should?
Daft Punk wasn’t the first among artists to exploit the allure of cultivating a mystique. David Bowie believed in pulling back from the audience’s expectations even at their most frenzied level of devotion, just to keep them wanting more. Led Zeppelin didn’t become one of the biggest rock bands of the 1970s by battling it out in the singles charts with Slade and the Sweet (Led Zep being a strictly albums-only band) or giving interviews to the media. They didn’t play the game and just watched the dollars roll in.
Five-point checklist for B2B PR and content marketing
But, conversely, in the world of B2B commerce and industry – where companies need to sell the products and services they offer now, while developing and marketing new ones – how can you afford to be deliberately opaque? The music industry, art and culture are all fertile ground for enigmatic creators playing with their audience’s expectations and massaging a mystique, but can B2B businesses afford to take that risk in search of “street credibility”?
I think the answer lies somewhere in between.
When considering a B2B PR or content marketing campaign or ongoing communications plan, it’s worth thinking whether the five things that will help you do more with less:
- Provide something new: A new idea, concept, piece of advice, approach – or a new take on what’s gone before.
- Provide something nobody else is: To know that, you need to be sure what your competitors are doing PR and content marketing-wise already.
- Provide something genuinely useful and valuable to the reader, listener or viewer: Be honest with yourself and employ a high level of self-critique about your ideas.
- Provide data-driven, sector and subject matter-specific insights: based on credible, in-house data or by commissioning in-depth and authoritative research.
- Provide something that will change people’s perception of your business or get them to respond to you in a way you want: If your PR, content or marketing communications are unlikely to move people’s minds and/or emotions, rethink your campaign ideas until you’ve got something that will.
Putting your PR and content marketing campaign ideas through an industrial strength “honesty filter” – to separate the truly insightful, helpful and valuable from the merely mediocre – will give you a better chance of delivering content that’s both memorable and of quality; establishing your expertise, highlighting your knowledge and subtly showcasing your solutions.
Taking a leaf out of the Led Zeppelin, Daft Punk and Bowie playbooks, this approach should keep your audience both satisfied and – if not exactly begging for more – certainly anticipating more.
As Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor at the Content Marketing Institute, said recently about creating content: “Produce as much as you can. Use it to test out your ideas, sharpen your content skills and exercise your creative muscles. But publish only as much as you must to create the impact you need to achieve.”
Need expert advice with your B2B PR and content marketing? Contact Metamorphic PR.