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Better B2B results: increase your media coverage

If PR is part of your B2B marketing mix, it’s likely the focus of the activity revolves around creating news content, with a primary focus of obtaining coverage across a range of target media (print & digital) and sharing it via social platforms. The mix will vary, but it’s most likely a combination of product news, application studies, sales wins or staff changes (if you’re not doing any of this, talk to us about how we could help). 

So, your content is great – how could it not be? – but it’s only half the equation. Measuring success in PR is still hotly debated, but the first baseline to reach is getting published in the first place – and it’s still surprising how many people fail to turn their content into coverage. For want of understanding few basic rules of engagement, marketing teams could be doubling or tripling the coverage they receive.

The first, fundamental rule of media engagement is: the media is staffed by actual human beings.

This means every target editor and writer is someone to approach, chat to, cajole and persuade on an individual basis that you’re worth listening to. First time contact? Research their name, introduce yourself and your company, find out what they want. This obviously takes longer than sending out a droningly generic email appended to a media list you’ve never read (and quite frankly, if you’re doing that, you deserve everything you don’t get), but a few hours work will set up relationships that in many cases last years. With most B2B publications run by a tight editorial team – typically core team of three or four, usually comprising an editor, news editor and lead writer –  there’s usually far more opportunity to build personal relationship than B2B/news media, where staff turnover can be brisk.

So, you’ve made contact – what next? Editorially, the great majority of writers/ editors working in B2B publications are usually highly knowledgeable about their subject. They know what they need from contributors, something which should be self-evident from the titles they publish. Even ten minutes of advance research should yield what content a publication is willing to publish; a news-focused title that doesn’t have a products section isn’t going to get all excited about your new widget, no matter how shiny it is. A good rule of thumb is to ensure you issue a varied mix of new product, customer wins and application studies to cover most of the bases. Within this material, they’ll  be looking for sufficient technical competence and market/environment insight to make your business a prime candidate for submitting more in-depth white paper or case study material.

A varied approach also helps you output content at a level consistent enough to build your company’s profile and presence effectively

Issuing a press release every few months is hardly likely to get your remembered, nor build the critical mass needed to establish presence and familiarity with the readership.

So, if you supply good quality, well-written content that tells a logical story, communicates the facts and throttles back the hyperbole, you’ll see results in no time. Properly structured and coherently written, a B2B PR story is much more likely to be used in its entirety than a B2C push jostling for space; better still, online coverage is immediately measurable in terms of website traffic, and if you’re using marketing automation systems PR can be tagged with hyperlinks aligned to a specific campaign.

And, if you don’t get published first time, persevere. Unless there are firm advertising-related restraints around what is published – of which more later – keep knocking at the door. It will open.

From here the relationship should progress, with your overall aim to gain ‘trusted contributor’ status in the eyes of each target publication’s editorial team. This is achieved partly on your competency on delivering content that is relevant and interesting to their audience, but also on the implicit understanding that you’ll deliver the text and image to a material deadline. Nurture and grow the relationship, as you would every other, and watch the results grow; grow complacent – say, by leaving your editor in the lurch by not creating an article to deadline – and all that good work is instantly undone. Not only is your personal reputation tossed in the trashcan marked ‘unreliable to deal with’, but you’ll find your brand suffers the same fate. What was once all ladders could be snakes back to square one. So: screw around with an editorial team’s goodwill at your peril.

Caveats? Each publication has unique internal relationships governing the relationship between editorial and advertising. Each title works to different rules, so at the outset it’s hard to know whether an editorial submission will result in a long relationship of news-led editorial, or the deadening thump of the dreaded ‘colour separation’ (i.e. paid editorial) request. In our experience, magazines operating in focused verticals tend to keep their editorial demands more separate than more broadly horizontal titles spanning a wide range of verticals – the former needs industry-specific content, the latter tends to aggregate a broad range of product news for a wider audience, so the relationship usually (but not always) ends up slanted towards paid-product. The advertising conversation is still there, of course, for niche titles, but usually conducted separately with the advertising sales manager. That’s a topic for another post.

So, your brand is a trusted contributor achieving great results, and it’s generating web traffic and enquiries. But there’s more in the relationship to consider.

Most B2B publishing houses are nimble operators, able to adapt and survive without the same crippling overheads of big publishing operations.

With print ad spend in decline, many have expanded their business model to embrace a wider role in their market niche. In addition to the obligatory online presence, many publishers position themselves as true media partners: they organise conferences, tradeshows, lease data and product market intelligence reports, all facilitated by their unique position to be able to network across companies, markets and competitors. This makes relationship-building via PR activities even more valuable: publications aren’t now just channels to broadcast messaging, but can be direct conduits to customer conversations. Another good reason to build the right relationship.

And don’t forget the far greater opportunities afforded by generating your own content in any case. A solid story means news for the website, shareable content for social media, and content for self-published mailers and magazines – all vital elements, and important additional ROI to be gained when assessing PR spend.

Like what you read but don’t do any of it? Coda can help with all of it. Email hello@codacomms.com or call us on +44  (0)1202 721169.