Joined-up PR and Lead Gen Delivers Best ROI for B2B Brands
Among the many topics under discussion and debate at Advertising Week Europe, measurement will be one of the topics at the fore. PR gets a bad press in terms of its effectiveness and linking PR activity directly to a return on investment has often proven to be difficult for companies – but that’s only because too many businesses still treat PR as a siloed activity.
Media planners would rarely use only one channel when launching a new B2C campaign for one of their clients. It’s time that B2B agencies, publishers and tech vendors adopted the same principles when looking at how PR can support wider sales and marketing goals.
As well as raising general brand awareness, a well-executed PR programme should be able to drive sales leads by helping companies to get in front of the businesses that they want to sell to. By marrying up PR, content and events activity (in the widest sense – from press coverage and social media activations to having the right trade show presence and creating the right marketing collaterals), companies will be much more successful at consistently converting more prospects.
For example, at a trade show like Advertising Week Europe you need an integrated PR and content plan. It’s important to get your story out to a wide audience beforehand to try and beat the competition and cut through all the ‘noise’ at the event itself.
You need to differentiate your offering quickly from the ‘me too’s’ on the market, to demonstrate that you are an innovative company and to establish a credible presence for possible customers, or investors. They will both run the rule over company profiles and articles, so comments and a general presence in the media will help them weigh up how seriously to take your business service or product offer.
This is where PR specialists can deliver when it comes to crafting great storytelling content and spotting, or creating, opportunities to tell that story in the right places. The best PRs are always able to build a bridge between the key messages that businesses want to talk about and the stories that will attract the attention of journalists and other influencers.
Stock up the content war chest
At the same time, you should be developing a tailored content marketing programme that gives you more direct ammunition to engage prospects. This content should demonstrate that you understand the problems with which potential clients are wrestling and that your solution is the right one.
With a plethora of distribution platforms available, from LinkedIn to Twitter, the right content can now be better targeted to the sectors or job titles with which you are trying to engage. White papers, case studies and research are all tried and tested formats – but of course businesses don’t just have to limit themselves to written text these days. Podcasts or video series have cut-through and are easily distributed.
When the PR activity has done its job, your company name should resonate with prospects or be easily found via a quick Google search. PR messaging will have established credibility and the decision-makers will be receptive to content. Plenty of CRM tools and platforms now exist to track a prospect’s engagement with your content on a granular level.
The value of events
Events are the opportunity to explain your message clearly and directly to potential clients with little chance of misinterpretation and with the ability to bring the personal warmth and charisma of your C-suite to the fore. Your content can form the basis of a presentation, round table or discussion for an event and closes a virtuous circle of activity – at the end of which you should have some hot leads to cultivate.
If you are holding or participating in a panel or presentation at Advertising Week Europe, then you need to maximise that opportunity. Here’s what should be checked and prepped before an event.
- Do you have an announcement to get out ahead of your presentation? Any new market trends data to catch the eye of journalists and prospects?
- Have you arranged for anyone from your team to make notes or record the session, so it can be developed into content such as a website blog or a podcast that can be shared?
- Are you briefed in case a journalist is in the audience and wants an ‘on the spot’ quick follow-up interview? Do you know your key messages and are you on top of the latest sector news, in case you are asked for an opinion?
At Propeller, we advise clients on how to get cut-through across the full media spectrum, including sector specific titles. Businesses in the run up to a pitch find it strengthens their hand if they can appear in a title read by their target client, so this is another tactic that the most savvy companies adopt in order to join up their PR and sales campaigns.
The right business development strategy, embracing PR, content and events, provides an audit trail of positive signals and a demonstration that your thinking and solution is the right fit for your prospects. The metric? That’ll be the number of business meetings you have booked at the end of a specific cycle of activity – hopefully your diary will be as packed as Advertising Week Europe’s opening gala!