Nothing improves B2B public relations like a happy customer’s voice. Whether it's a recorded interview or a printed quote, it’s another voice that speaks to your company’s prowess.
Positive customer feedback translates into opportunities to boost your B2B PR, and get the attention you deserve. Once your customer has indicated he's game, you can turn his willingness to help into owned content, such as:
- Case studies
- Media interviews
- Press release quotes
- Blog content
- Analyst research
- Customer testimonials
- Speaking engagements
Recommended Reading: The Power of B2B Marketing Case Studies
What exactly does customer engagement do for your B2B PR?
- It increases your credibility in the industry and among potential customers. When prospects see how satisfied your current customers are, they are reassured that they will be in good hands.
- It boosts brand awareness. As others laud your brand, it distinguishes you from your competitors.
- It puts a face on your company. It takes your company from meh to distinguished with customers satisfied enough to say so.
- It adds authenticity to your brand. Nothing is more genuine than customers speaking honestly about the good experiences that they've had with you.
Despite these positive benefits, it can be sometimes be tough to get customers to sign on. For one thing, the client may have policies against participating in such programs, or lawyers may get involved and prevent participation. It could stem from competitive fears. It could also simply boil down to plain old bad timing.
Let’s face it, every company you deal with will have one reason or another that they can’t participate in your PR program. So how do you break down these walls and get your clients to participate willingly?
Recommended Reading: 5 Ways to Transform Your B2B Public Relations
Any effective B2B PR agency will tell you that it takes a little finesse to get in the door, and increase customer engagement in your B2B public relations program. In this article, you’ll learn some of the best practices in public relations for increasing participation.
The Essential Keys to B2B Public Relations Participation
1. Make It Part of the Contract
This is a pretty standard PR tactic for most businesses, so don’t shy away from it. Many include a clause in the contract that obligates the client to at least participate in a press release that announces the acquisition of a new client.
In reality, there are potential wrinkles in this plan. You may face lawyers who push to remove the clause from your contract. Or a negotiator could demand something in return for participation. Don't be scared away by these possibilities. Even if some refuse, you don't need the world -- only a few.
2. Get Your Sales Team Involved
Your sales team has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with your client, getting them on board, and settled in with your company's product or service. They’ve built a solid relationship with your customer, and know their pain points -- meaning that they are in the best possible position to get your customer involved in your PR initiatives.
An excellent way to motivate your sales team without forcing their hand is to offer incentives -- bonuses for customer marketing participation, or making it a part of their yearly review process.
Recommended Reading: 5 Easy Ways to Get More B2B Sales Leads with B2B PR
3. Don’t Request -- Offer!
Whatever you do, don’t beg! You’re not asking for a favor. This is a good opportunity for their company. It puts them in the limelight, and raises their customer profile.
Approach them confidently and positively. Take, for example, this simple but engaging statement:
“A slot recently opened in our public relations program, and we immediately thought of you. Your recent initiatives in [fill in the blank] make you an excellent candidate, and we think your company would benefit from our telling your story.”
This offer is much more appealing than, “Would you please give us a quote/interview?” It speaks to their needs and even shows your personal interest in what they've accomplished.
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4. Stroke Their Ego
This one dovetails with our last point. Remind them that this is not about you. This venture is a great opportunity for them. Mention that this engagement will give them publicity and help build their own personal brand. You can also remind them of how many people will see it -- your website’s monthly views, or your average blog post views.
5. As A Last Resort
If none of these tactics work -- and only as a last resort -- use generic testimonials. By this, I mean referring to Verizon, for example, as a major telecom provider or IBM as a multinational technology company. It’s not as good as the real deal, but better than nothing.
Recommended Reading: How to Develop B2B Case Studies That Actually Convert
Key Takeaways From This Article…
- Include PR participation in your contracts where possible
- Provide incentives for your sales team to get customers to participate in marketing
- Make it an offer instead of a request
- Show them the benefits they receive when they participate
B2B public relations doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. Be your own B2B PR agency with these 5 keys, and watch your client participation increase.
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