An essential guide to working with a B2B PR agency
Bill Gates allegedly once said that if he was down to the last dollar of his marketing budget he’d spend it on PR. But what type of PR would he choose? There are various subsets within the practice, including business-to-consumer or B2C PR, and business-to-business or B2B PR. Even within these there are multiple specialisms to suit different industries, such as B2B technology PR.
Here we take a deep dive into the world of B2B PR, explaining everything you need to know, including how to choose the right agency.
What is B2B PR?
All types of PR involve proactive management of a brand or business’ reputation, using both earned and owned media to raise its profile and prove its credibility. The key difference from B2C PR is that B2B PR is used to support businesses that sell their products and services to other companies, rather than to individuals.
It could be argued there shouldn’t be much difference between the two disciplines. After all the CEOs and decision makers who decide which software platforms, insurance policies or consultancy services their companies should purchase are the same people who buy cars, mobile phones and toothpaste when they’re not in the office.
But when these individuals are in work mode and representing their business, they have different priorities, needs and challenges than when they are making decisions around their own personal purchases. That means B2B PR requires a subtly different set of skills and proficiencies than B2C PR.
Essentials of B2B PR
Truly effective B2B PR campaigns require an in-depth understanding of the specific industry sector in which a business operates. This knowledge encompasses three key categories; media, milestones and milieu.
Media: Successful B2B PR requires specific knowledge of the media landscape for individual industries and verticals. Each sector has a variety of publications to be targeted for press releases, thought leadership pieces and interviews. A good PR professional will understand which media outlets are the most authoritative and respected, as well as which are most likely to help the business achieve its specific goals, whether that is driving sales and engagement or generating B2B leads. They will also know which publications to target for different types of content and what format that content should be in.
Of course, a business’ potential customers and target audience won’t be restricted to its own industry or sector. An advertising technology provider, for instance, may want to reach customers in the retail, gaming, finance or automotive industries. A B2B PR agency will be able to facilitate that approach by speaking to journalists and media contacts across other verticals, and by generating content that is relevant to wider media such as national newspaper brands.
Milestones: In addition to individual media opportunities, each industry or vertical also has a unique set of milestones that B2B PR specialists need to be aware of. These might be annual events that business representatives can attend or get involved in. They could be significant reports from authoritative industry bodies that organisations can contribute or respond to. And they can be coveted awards that companies should be put forward for.
By creating a bespoke plan that takes into account all of these vital industry milestones, B2B PR professionals can leverage them to elevate the profile of the business through insightful contributions, prominent speaker placements or award-winning submissions.
Milieu: Background and contextual knowledge about the industry in which a company operates is essential for effective B2B PR. This could include understanding industry-specific jargon and how to apply it. Each sector has its own terms and concepts, and PR specialists need to know which ones are an accepted part of the industry vernacular and which ones require further explanation, as well as how terminology should be used across a variety of channels and publications.
Also essential to any B2B PR strategy is an in-depth understanding of industry developments. Examples include changes in regulations or technological advances that are currently under way, as well as specific challenges the industry is facing. In addition, PR professionals will need to understand how external situations, such as political or economic events, impact the sector in which they are operating. An effective PR agency understands the value of contributing to the conversation around industry changes, and will be ready to respond quickly to events as they unfold, identifying and executing newsjacking opportunities for their clients.
Choosing a B2B PR agency
When choosing a B2B PR agency, traditional word of mouth is still vital. Getting recommendations from other businesses within the industry allows for the selection of companies that already have a deep understanding of the sector. Recommended PR agencies will have a strong media network within the industry, which will help to achieve top tier coverage.
In the absence of recommendations, companies should look for an agency that is set up specifically for B2B PR, which is generally more labour intensive than B2C PR. Agencies should allocate multiple team members to each client account – not just a single account executive – and the number of accounts each PR professional is working on shouldn’t exceed five.
Businesses should look for a B2B PR agency with experience in their sector. This can be ascertained by looking at client lists on an agency’s website, or reading its blog to get an idea of areas of expertise. Businesses can also ask agencies to provide examples of coverage achieved within their vertical or target publications.
Finally, as activities such as content marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), and social media marketing all work together to support a B2B PR campaign, businesses should look for an agency that understands this interconnection and can provide support in all of these areas. In addition to producing press releases and thought leadership pieces, a B2B PR agency should have experience in creating engaging blog posts and insightful white papers, ideally using the results of research they have helped their clients undertake.
To understand more about the B2B tech PR services GingerMay can deliver, please get in touch at email@example.com