Working in B2B PR can be an overwhelming concoction of acronyms, statistics and business jargon. Even the job title ‘B2B PR’ plays on the idea of industry-focused abbreviations. As a B2B PR consultant, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea that business-to-business communications predominantly involves white-washed, corporate messaging. And it does, but not to the extent you’d think.
Similar to B2C PR, there will be times when someone in B2B PR is tasked with weaving through brand messaging, or perhaps drafting a corporate press release, but this doesn’t mean that we should abandon our posts as ‘creative translators’.
As B2B PR professionals, we operate on the boundary between the corporate and public spheres. We’re tasked with understanding and translating the client’s passion for their business into language that inspires and intrigues the reader. Often in the B2B world, the corporate message intertwines with the reader’s interests – saving money, boosting productivity, maximising efficiency – but there’s a skilful art to the marrying of these two aspects, which sometimes goes amiss.
Failing to recognise this middle ground results in sales-like content which includes so many push messages that the reader is left dazed and confused as to why it’s relevant to them. Instead, we should be creating pieces which inspire and intrigue.
The thing to remember is that while the crux of B2B content is based on corporate messaging, and although we’re mainly targeting other businesses, the individual reader is still a consumer at their core. Remove the job title and you’re left with a person just like you or I, who is seeking interesting reads relevant to their post, not uninspiring pieces which leave him them on the brink of boredom.
From chief engineering officers to data strategists, working in B2B means that you’re often in contact with incredibly intelligent people who understand the intricacies of how businesses operate. Whether it be an in-depth exploration of cloud migration or examining the use of connected devices, it’s this detailed knowledge from business leaders which helps us to effectively communicate each client’s proposition.
With such detailed insights to hand, it’s tempting to include as much information as possible in the hope of showcasing the spokesperson as the go-to expert. But here’s the problem – sales people talk in sales, marketing people talk in marketing, and technical people talk in technical terms. This linear stream of communication means content isn’t relevant to every reader – so it’s our job as communications experts to pull out the golden nuggets that will resonate with the masses.
Before even putting pen to paper, take a step back and remind yourself of the underlying message. What is it that you’re trying to communicate? Who are you communicating to, and do they already have an intimate understanding of the subject matter? Further still, why is this particular piece of interest to the target audience?
When you’ve been working on an account for a while, it’s easy to get lost in the brand messaging. Whether it takes weeks, months, or even years, you’ll soon learn the business’ messaging as if it were the back of your hand. But this can be dangerous territory.While it’s great to understand the business’ position, this doesn’t always translate well in external copy. Articles can be packed with self-promotional taglines and product-related solutions. For the reader, this type of content can almost act as a repellent – who wants to read a piece if they think it’s a sales pitch? For a journalist, this style only fuels tension with the public relations executive, sparking an avoidance to reach out for any further input from that particular company.
In an ideal world, all articles will be a pièce de résistance. We strive to create thought-provoking pieces which achieve top tier coverage and drive engagement. However, corporate messaging and brand guidelines limit just how controversial we can be when it comes to thought leadership – especially in the B2B world.
Hooking onto the news agenda is a great catalyst for uncovering article angles. What are your target publications currently covering? Understanding a journalist’s beat and what they are currently working on will not only position the spokesperson as a useful source of information for content, but also demonstrate that you’ve thought carefully about making the story relevant to that journalist or publication. On such small considerations are great media relationships built.
Rather than simply mass-distributing a corporate message to anyone and everyone, set your business apart from the rest by understanding its value and artfully incorporating this into upcoming stories. Only then, will you generate coverage and truly nail the news.
The bottom line is that B2B can be dry, but only if you allow it to be. To ensure this doesn’t happen, engage your creative side and look for problems and contrasts within a story that matter to the general day-to-day person. Not every reader will want to spend their spare time reading whitewashed, corporate content. Instead, let’s give the people what they want – an intriguing story that enthuses – while positioning our client as the font of inspiration and knowledge. It’s a win-win.
The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, founder of TopLine Comms, and inbound marketing, B2B content marketing agency and proud HubSpot partner agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say. Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact the B2B PR Blog editorial team via email on [email protected].
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