Gaining traction with the “media that matters” in the B2B market is not just about pitching and press releases. For companies to meet their marketing and business goals, they need to work with their PR partners to develop a B2B PR strategy that’s built on:
- Targeted research and relationship building
- Compelling pitches and strategic outreach
- Targeted analysis post-campaign
We asked three PR professionals with clients in the B2B sector – Dana Sullivan Kilroy, principal at The Ferraro Group, Laura Borgstede, founder and CEO of Calysto Communications, and Shirley Johnson, founder and owner of Stage 1 Public Relations – for their tips and strategies on how to build a successful B2B PR strategy.
Remote PR Jobs: What is the best piece of advice you can give a new PR professional when they enter the B2B space?
Borgstede: Do the research. Learn your industry inside and out. Take the time to read the top industry publications, determine the main industry trends and pain points, and figure out where your clients have a solid fit. Don’t try to pitch generic storylines – they’ll just get ignored. Instead, be as specific as you can and tell the media why they should be talking to you. If your clients have specific vertical markets of interest, you need to understand those as well. This won’t happen overnight, but the more you read, the more educated you’ll become. This will help you create better pitches – and better relationships with the reporters that cover companies like your clients.
Kilroy: Know there are more opportunities than you might think. It’s very satisfying to help clients get coverage, or place submitted content, in the targeted outlets their customers are reading.
Johnson: Read everything. Know your business, your profession and you. Look at how your competitors work and do it better!
Remote PR Jobs: How is targeting B2B media different than B2C?
Kilroy: It’s so much easier to secure coverage in B2B media outlets because the reporters tend to be subject-matter experts so they immediately “get” our pitches. It seems like they are also more invested in telling stories related to their expertise.
Johnson: [There’s a difference in the] customer base and messaging. Your messaging to B2B media is more niche and targeted to businesses that sell the products. B2C is targeted to the general consumer and who buys the product.
Borgstede: In general, the media you target in B2B will be more focused on the specific beats they cover, whereas in B2C, coverage areas are broader. In some ways, the reporters and editors for B2B publications are subject-matter experts in their own right. Your job as a B2B public relations professional is to tell them something interesting they don’t already know.
Remote PR Jobs: What specific trend or technology theme do you see emerging across all B2B clients and how do you incorporate that into your client pitches?
Kilroy: This year, it’s supply chain issues and data. The majority of our clients fit neatly into these themes.
Borgstede: We’re seeing a lot of focus being placed on the customer experience. This emerged several years ago, and it’s now back in full force. A few trends – COVID, remote workforce, supply chain issues – have all come together to make creating a stellar customer experience a top priority for B2B companies.
Johnson: From my experience, the technology has to be inventive and easy to explain but even more important, it must be something that B2B customers need to help them be more productive. Additionally, B2B clients need to be global and not just local. They also need to have a niche. No longer is it only important to be in the national publications but targeting [trade publications] is [also] important because the trades growing in numbers.
Remote PR Jobs: Is there a specific way you target vertical media when it comes to your B2B clients?
Johnson: I use the same technique – research the right reporter who covers that space, read their work to ensure I am not sending them something that will not be of use to their readers, and ensure they have access to the key spokespersons, information and competitor attributes and comparisons.
Borgstede: Absolutely. Vertical media are hyper-focused on providing relevant information to their audiences. Horizontal media are too, but it can be at a slightly higher level. Vertical media only want the specifics as it relates to their reader base. That’s why identification of your clients’ top verticals should be in your annual marketing plan, and you should have specific value propositions for each vertical. Each one will have different pain points and those need to be identified, addressed and backed up by specific content and proof points – including those elusive case studies.
Kilroy: I come to PR from a decades-long career in journalism so when I target B2B media I almost always offer to submit a bylined piece in addition to traditional pitching. I then work with the client to write articles on topics we work up together – and I have about a 95% success rate in having pieces accepted.