The widespread growth of the Internet and social networking platforms has created a dramatic shift in how B2B companies need to think about their PR strategy. While a glossy cover story in a widely read trade magazine can certainly be a great accomplishment, the question today is whether or not it is getting enough eyeballs and actually moving the dial. That’s not to say that traditional PR no longer plays a real and important role in marketing a B2B company, but its only one element of an effective PR campaign.
One of the biggest paradigm shifts from traditional to digital mediums is how B2B companies talk to their customers, prospects, interest groups, etc. It’s no longer a one-way conversation, but rather a dynamic and interactive conversation with target audiences through the use of social networks, blogs and other digital platforms. The Internet is allowing B2B companies to better understand their target audiences and customers, so that communications messages can be more targeted and really address their challenges and needs. This creates a far greater opportunity to engage with them and make it possible to use PR as a powerful tool to turn interested readers, viewers, etc. into actual customers and endorsers of a product or service.
But the biggest challenge now is no longer how to get your company’s products or services exposure in the media (while that’s still important), it’s finding creative ways to cut through the Internet and social media clutter in order to separate and elevate your brand from the competition.
So what are some ways to do that?
• Build a loyal following on social networking sites. Provide content that users and potential customers can interact with. Stale content does nothing to engage anyone following your business online. Online users are drawn to fresh content that allows them to voice their opinion to a company that actually listens. The loyal followers will recruit their friends, thus expanding your company’s social network database.
• Make your story visual through use of viral videos, interviews with thought-leaders, comments from customers about how your product or service has solved a problem, etc. This will bring your story to life and make it more interesting. By providing some stimulus other than plain text, the average user is more engaged and willing to continue reading your quality content.
• Use your website and social networking pages to comment on other articles or news that you read about your industry to share your point of view, rather than just posting information about your products and services. By doing so, you’re making your business appear up-to-date on current events and acting much like the average online user, sharing their favorite news topic of the day with their friends on their own social networks.
• Get your audiences excited through social media contests and fun trivia games and questions that will help build your base of followers (using the Facebook Question feature, for instance). There are several third-party apps that Facebook Business Page’s can install to interact with their fans even further.
• Create trusted partnerships with other highly visible thought leaders and influencers in your space to help tell your story. By building this relationship, your company becomes more visible online not only in your industry, but also in other fields.
The Internet doesn’t change the fundamentals of PR, it just makes the outreach capabilities far greater than ever before, which B2B companies need to understand how to use to their advantage.
About the Blogger:
In October 1993, Jack Berkman established Berkman Marketing Group, now BERKMAN, which since 1997 has earned over 60 Bernays Awards for Public Relations excellence from the San Diego Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. In 2006, BERKMAN won the prestigious Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil Award for its representation of the Jabra media relations campaign.
Berkman is a 1986 alumnus of LEAD San Diego. He has served as President of the San Diego Press Club, and was named ”PR Professional of the Year” in 1987 by the Public Relations Club of San Diego. He has been the director of the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Symphony, Ruben H. Fleet Space Theater and Science Center, and San Diego Repertory Theater.