Thought Leadership

When it comes to PR effectiveness, there's no school like the old school.

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It’s a funny old time for B2B PR. Some (relatively) younger, go-getting cousins like content marketing and organic SEO tend to take much of the limelight when it comes to tactical priorities and budgets.

One pitfall of this is that in some cases, PR skills focused more on long-term marketing effects such as brand building seem to have fallen by the wayside.

That’s a problem as it means organisations are producing great content but not maximising its value. We might all be writing more content, but who’s reading it? Is it reaching the right audience as frequently as possible and for the best value?

Often the answer is no. That’s not to say owned and paid channels are underperforming, but big opportunities in earned media are passed by.

Developing great content and using it for short-term marketing tactics that have a direct impact on metrics like sales enquiries, but combining this with what now seem old-school PR skills to maximise exposure with your audience.

Here’s an example. You might have written a cracking white paper, hitched it up with a laser-focused enquiry form and a smart paid media strategy that’s driving just the type of clicks you want. So short term, so good.

But top marketing theorists like Peter Field and Byron Sharp agree that if you’re going to really get commercial traction from your marketing you need to generate a critical mass of mental availability – longer term brand building – in tandem with short term marketing geared to those enquiry metrics.

After all, if no-one knows who you are then why would they react to ads imploring them to click, share data or buy?

PR is perfect for this, working in a (broadly) similar way to brand based advertising in that over time you build up positive awareness, ie mental availability, for when people are ready to enquire. And since you’ve already got some great content in the form of your white paper you’re already halfway there.

Yet here’s the rub – we’ve seen fewer and fewer agencies and brands focus on the skillset needed to make this happen. Namely:

  • An inquisitive nature that leads to a detailed understanding of the subject matter.
  • A talent for understanding what makes news, and how to make news out of marketing content.
  • Having established relationships with the right media to make sure the best opportunities can be taken advantage of.

Now this isn’t anything groundbreaking – we’re not giving away any trade secrets – and if you’re nodding as you read this then welcome, nice to meet a likeminded soul. It’s also worth saying that these old-fashioned tactics work equally as well adapted for any kind of media, journalist or influencer. Don’t get us wrong, some of our best friends are trade journal editors with corduroy elbow patches but winning great coverage isn’t limited to that venerable group.

It’s a mystery why this all seems to be a declining element of the B2B marketer’s toolkit, but it’s something we’ve been keen to make full use of with our own PR clients. It’s meant we’ve been able to supercharge campaigns for clients like Finning, Reynaers Aluminium and Polypipe Building Services – generating more high quality coverage in the right media. Crucially, increasing their share of voice versus competitors – a key metric for the value of longer term marketing effects.

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