May 24, 2016
Lately, on the B2B PR Sense Blog, I've talked about how to extend the life of your B2B PR Campaign. Most recently, I detailed how to optimize your own press.
Oct 27, 2015
(Updated: December 21, 2016)
What do you want from your B2B PR campaign? The answer to this basic question is at the root of your PR success.
Nine out of ten times, a business considers successful PR to equate to quotes in the press, and a level of this success is even judged by the prestige of the publication. For example, the head of a company may expect to see himself or herself quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or the #1 trade publication in the corporation’s field. The executive might also like to receive a little bit of social media spotlight as well. Yet are these always beneficial in terms of PR?
Although there’s certainly no problem with any of the above, it’s simply an incomplete understanding of B2B PR. Arranging for the CEO to be mentioned in the Times or praised in a trade publication does not mean that you, as a PR professional, can hang your hat. It could even be totally wrong for a particular type of business and its goals.
B2B PR is commonly thought of as being all about news placements.
Let's look at the big picture for a moment. In truth, media coverage is a relatively small part of the PR formula. If media mentions is your singular goal, you're turning a blind-eye to all the extras that come afterwards -- not to mention everything else you could have done.
In reality, media coverage on its own doesn't take you very far -- it may last a few days. In terms of PR, that's just not enough. On the other hand, there are simple but essential ways to refuel your PR and drive it a lot further.
This post originally appeared under a different title on
Why do so many B2B companies, especially those in the fiery ad-tech space, talk as if their mouths were stuffed with chewy caramels? That is, their websites and marketing copy, laden with jargon, require a mega large cup of java to get through.
Now, I know these companies are filled with lots of highly intelligent people who can walk circles around the average person when it comes to technology. In fact, they may be too smart for their own good. They don’t know how to write about what they do in a way that’s easy to understand…that stands out…that engages…that begs you to want to know more.
I thought I would have a little fun and took a look at some of the websites of ad-tech companies on the famous Luma Partners landscape. That’s the ever expanding diagram of the ad-tech space popularized by Luma Partners Chief Executive Terence Kawaja that gets more and more difficult to read as more companies enter the space. Names here have been purposely omitted since the purpose of this is not to point the finger but to demonstrate an endemic problem.
Here are examples of how a few ad-tech companies talk about themselves on the homepages of their websites:
"We don’t just press a button and let the technology do the work. We drive media campaigns with intelligence and finesses to reach your targeted media objectives. And, ultimately, help brands reach consumers smarter and more efficiently."
"X enables advertisers and agencies to Build, Run, Measure and optimze retargeting-driven display campaigns from a single platform. Now that’s efficiency."
"Do Better Advertising. Do X.
X’s mission is to help brands execute better advertising. Better advertising starts with good customer insights and X provides the tools to make those insights actionable."
Part of the problem, in my experience working in B2B communications, is that B2B companies are often insular. They are so accustomed to talking about themselves one way that it sounds perfectly normal. It reminds me of what my husband says about his Queens accent. He never realized that he had an accent until he left Queens and people informed him he sounded “funny.”
There is also the mystique of jargon and highfalutin’ language. Creating your own nomenclature and acronymns like DSPs, SSPs, RTB, DMPs, and DDM, as the ad-tech world has done, provides a veneer of arcane magic that intimidates the outsider. Ultimately, however, it makes everything more complicated than it needs to be. And in a world where social media rules, keeping it simple and entertaining is key to great branding.
On the other hand, B2C companies sometimes indulge in jargon, but it's jargon everyone gets. It’s all part of the fun. After all, how difficult is it understand Starbuck’s Tall, Grande, and Venti designations for the size of its coffee? In that case, it’s good branding and differentiates Starbucks from its competitors.
The best B2C marketing companies also have memorable slogans. Think Nike’s "Just Do It" or Apple’s "Think Different." They simplify while defining the product and ethos. B2B companies, especially ad-tech firms, would be well advised to take a lesson or two from their B2C brethren, and Just Do It!
(Updated: December 13, 2016)
B2B PR tactics are all about getting your name into people's minds. For example, what pops into your head when you hear such phrases as "Just do it," or "Breakfast of champions"? No doubt specific brands come right to mind. Why? Repetition.
The same is true of plays, movies, and books. Think of the simple lines, "Show me the money," "Elementary, my dear Watson," or even "Wax on, wax off." These can't help but conjure up cozy scenes and even familiar emotions within us. Why? Repetition.
I was reminded of the importance of repetition when I read an interview in Newsweek with former president Bill Clinton where he talked about the need for the Democrats to practice what he called “relentless explanation” to cut through the fear and confusion sown by the Republicans.
Now whatever your political persuasion, there is something powerful about the term “relentless explanation.” We see it all the time throughout political campaigns, which are in essence marketing campaigns -- with a brand (the candidate) and a message. We saw a prime example of this in the recent 2016 election. Amid everything that happened, we will probably never forget Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again!" How many times did he say it? You can't deny that repetition of his key message worked in his favor.
In marketing, this idea is known better as effective frequency. Whatever particular phrase you might use, the process is the same. You hear it a couple of times in the background, and you may even be oblivious to it at first -- but as it continues to return, it sinks into your subconscious, and becomes a part of your mindset.
Now, I'm not talking about brainwashing. Rather, this is a reasoned argument that cuts through the clutter and noise of day-to-day life, and leads to an "Aha" moment. In essence, you're left thinking, "So that's what it means."
Recommended Reading: 5 Important Changes to the B2B PR Rule Book, and Why It Matters
If you’re a would-be athlete, as I am, you would have had the experience of being given instructional tips that initially don’t quite make sense but eventually, through trial and error, sink in and become part of your own tool set. As an aspiring tennis player, for example, pros have serenaded me with instructional tips like “low to high,” “brush up on the ball,” “twist." And while my body seems to want to do everything but, I at least now think about the terms as I’m hitting and they have become internalized.
All of which brings me back to marketing. Here we get into how repetition works effectively for some of the best B2B companies. Just as repetition works in teaching, it’s also one of the most influential PR tactics to keep on hand. Now I’m not just talking repetition for repetition’s sake. But repetition that is packaged into clear, coherent statements. When it encapsulates what you do and why it matters, that is the right kind of repetition.
Let me explain.
B2B PR prospects often ask us how we begin work with new clients. Our answer is that we spend time learning their business, and as part of that process, conduct a messaging workshop. In the workshop, we drill down and create the words and phrases that best define what the company does and what differentiates it from everyone else. Out of the workshop come the words and phrases that are relentlessly used – we couldn’t resist – in all the client’s communications.
Even though there may be several possible phrases or words that fit what the client does, it's important to whittle it down to the best two or three as to not overwhelm your potential B2B leads. The power of repetition is most potent when you use a few phrases frequently in your PR tactics, as opposed to using so many different phrases that it becomes an incoherent mess.
Take, for example. State Farm insurance, with its memorable jingle, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." We see these words everywhere -- we could probably sing it on cue. Why? It's catchy, and with the repetition, it has wormed its way into our heads. And these simple words embody what State Farm is offering : reliability. We hear that jingle, and we feel like we can trust the company.
This messaging doesn't just include the words of your message. Research shows that color has an incredible impact on memory recall. Make sure that your brand's colors are all represented repeatedly throughout your message -- in text, image, or video form -- to make an even more memorable impression.
Recommended Reading: How to Improve the Performance of Your B2B Content
By now, you probably understand the importance of repeating your message. But the question now remains -- what's the magic number? How many times should you repeat your message before you see results? As advertisers know, you typically need to see an ad five to seven times to remember it. It's what advertisers call the rule of 7.
Back in 1885, one of the great influencers and early pioneers of marketing, Thomas Smith made a similar observation. In fact, he specified that most people need to see or hear an advertisement about 20 times before they're compelled to make a purchase. His formula worked something like this:
1. The first time a man looks at an advertisement, he does not see it.
2. The second time, he does not notice it.
3. The third time, he is conscious of its existence.
4. The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it before.
5. The fifth time, he reads it.
6. The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it.
7. The seventh time, he reads it through and says, “Oh brother!”
8. The eighth time, he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again!”
9. The ninth time, he wonders if it amounts to anything.
10. The tenth time, he asks his neighbor if he has tried it.
11. The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
12. The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing.
13. The thirteenth time, he thinks perhaps it might be worth something.
14. The fourteenth time, he remembers wanting such a thing a long time.
15. The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it.
16. The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it some day.
17. The seventeenth time, he makes a memorandum to buy it.
18. The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty.
19. The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully.
20. The twentieth time he sees the ad, he buys what it is offering.
A recent study from Microsoft confirms Smith's original findings, noting that depending on the person, it takes between 6 and 20 times of repeating a message before you achieve your desired result.
Yet, do you hold back for fear of sounding like a broken record, and scaring off B2B leads? In reality, it sounds more like that to you because you're surrounded by this message on a daily basis. For your audience, this could be the first time they hear it. And when they do hear it repeatedly, it only serves to lend an air of credibility to your message. Because of this repetition, you ascend the ranks in listeners' minds and secure a spot as one of the best B2B companies they know.
Take, for example, the ever-popular Verizon Wireless commercial, with its message, "Can you hear me now? Good," used upwards of seven times in just one commercial. I don't think that actor ever said anything except those six words -- and it worked! Verizon became known and trusted as the "everywhere" network of cellular phones.
So now that you've determined what the key words of your message are, your customers need to keep hearing what you do. Years ago, you were limited to print publications, television and radio to get your message out. The digital age has made brand messaging more far-reaching and diverse than ever before -- meaning that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, a brand can reach you with its message.
It’s helpful not only to repeat the words but to say them in multiple venues – be it in a video, podcast, article, or white paper. People have different learning styles and may prefer one medium over another. In short, make it accessible to everyone, no matter their preferences.
Think of popular brands and how they reach you. Do you see them on social media? Do you read their blogs? Do you see them in print publications? How about native advertising? It just goes to show you how it pays to be in multiple venues. In one venue, an audience may be oblivious to you, while another venue absorbs them into your message.
Recommended Reading: 3 Easy Ways to Use Video to Explode Your B2B Content Marketing
So I won’t be accused of not practicing what I preach, here’s a quick summary of my key points.
May 22, 2015
Reading B2B content without graphics is like seeing a foreign film. The story may be interesting, but if you are glued to reading a steady stream of words, It becomes tiring. Suddenly, a barrier -- the text -- is keeping you from experiencing the actors directly.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. That's because most of us think visually, not in text.
So too in your B2B content. Consider that your content can generate 94% more views if you add compelling visual element.
Underscore compelling. If you're up for a chuckle, head over to Hubspot's Pinterest board: Awful Stock Photography. You'll get to see stellar examples of the worst stock photos out there, like this one:
May 22, 2013
Apr 11, 2013