How to succeed in B2B public relationsBY SELENA SHEIKH
A few years ago, I made the decision to jump into the more specialized and ‘boring’ world of B2B public relations.
While I knew that this would probably mean no sexy clients or fun parties, I sought the opportunity to learn more about a client’s business and PR requirements. I wanted to challenge myself to drive quality content and strategy over just getting more pieces of coverage from endless product launches.
This is akin to me picking up salsa dancing in 2007 when I decided to challenge myself by picking up something outside my comfort zone. I recognize that I will never be a professional dancer but I aspired to break out of my shell to become a performer.
It has been five years since those decisions and I am proud to say that I have made pretty decent headway in both my professional and performing life.
In B2B PR, content is really king. It is not about blindly regurgitating your client’s message and selling their product as the best thing since sliced bread. B2B content writing is taking your client messages, melding them with a key issue and shaping it into a story that is relevant to the media, their target audience and stakeholders.
No matter how unsexy the client solution, the onus is on the writer to produce a piece that is interesting and newsworthy.
Sometimes that process is easy but other times you get hit with a subject matter like, ‘write an article on a flexure-based electromagnetic linear actuator or FELA.’ Immediate reactions are: What on earth is that?! Is it for real or something from an Asimov book? Wait…did you just swear at me?
After scraping myself off the floor, I learned that the FELA is actually a motor that goes into an industrial wafer manufacturing machine. It took research, interviews with the scientist and a lot of reading before I could produce an article that satisfied the client, their target audience as well as the magazine the article was slated for.
To succeed in B2B PR, it is important to cultivate an interest in your client and their industry and solutions. You don’t have to be an absolute subject matter expert but at the same time, there is also no such thing as cutting and pasting from a client document.
Like all good writers, you first have to understand the topic before you can write a well-informed opinion piece, or verify that the one postulated by the client is justifiable and viable.
In all honesty, developing content for B2B clients is harder but at the same time, more fulfilling than simply pitching interviews or running events. Why?
That feeling when your article is published in the opinion section of a leading daily or leading technology pages is priceless. You know that all your research, experience in media relations and yes, even media monitoring has paid off.
One of the most underrated thing that we do as PR practitioners is media monitoring. Instead of dismissing it as a thankless task, practitioners should recognize that it is an essential part of developing effective communication strategies and content.
Like research, monitoring keeps you informed about the latest hot topics, as well as what people are saying about your client and their competitors. It provides the information you need to develop strong content that can stand on its own.
The funny thing about content development is that there are a lot of similarities with performing. I’ve performed in three regional salsa congresses over the last few years.
The endless rehearsals, blood, sweat and tears are the painful but then again, the adrenaline rush you get when you do a good job is unbelievable.
It’s the same with content. You have to pick the right topic, research it to death, sweat over the smallest details, constantly fact check and polish the piece until it is as close to perfect as you can get. When you pitch it to the media and it gets published, that feeling of pride and satisfaction you get – well, it makes it all worthwhile.