How to Build a B2B Public Relations Strategy

How to Build a B2B Public Relations Strategy

Traditional public relations (PR) tactics are often created with an eye towards a consumer audience, but a B2B PR plan can be equally effective when assessing your business strategies and goals. Check out 5 key elements to building a sound B2B PR strategy:

Step One: Establish Your Goal(s)

Do you want to…

  • share news or an announcement with your industry?
  • raise awareness and drive trial of your brand or product?
  • position yourself as an industry leader, innovator or educator?

Step Two: Develop Your Target Audience

B2B PR is more focused on reaching specific influencers in your industry than delivering a broad message to the masses. Once you establish your goals, you will have a better idea of who your target audience is and which industry decision-makers, influencers and thought-leaders you will want to connect with in order to reach them.

Step Three: Do Your Research

Where are decisionmakers getting their news, and where are industry opinion leaders sharing their thoughts? Some common places might include:

In addition to researching the best outlets for consideration, it’s important to know who at the outlet or publication might be the best fit for sharing your message. Consider the person’s position, beat or whether they have covered your company/topic before when deciding who to contact. It can be more effective than sending a pitch to a general news contact or the entire staff.

Step Four: Craft Your Message

Once you know who your audience is and how to reach them, it’s time to create a message that will resonate. Ensure that your core message is credible, easy to remember, relevant and clear without being too salesy. Bonus points if it offers a solution to problems their customers or the industry are already facing.

Step Five: Assess Coverage Quality

You should have metrics or KPIs (key performance indicators) in place for measuring your campaign’s success. For B2B PR efforts, some suitable metrics to track are:

 

  • number of hits (how many different outlets did it appear in?)
  • location of coverage (this includes which publication the coverage appears in as well as what format e.g. online, in print, social media, etc.)
  • depth of coverage (did you get a quick mention or reference or a full interview?)
  • conversations or actions this coverage is generating (i.e. event attendance, website visits through a trackable link or social media engagement)
Debunking 4 Common PR Myths

Debunking 4 Common PR Myths

Despite the significant role Public Relations can play in maximizing a brand’s reach and potential, the practice as a whole is still widely misunderstood. To help clear the air and paint a more accurate portrait of modern-day PR, we’re exposing a few of the most common myths and misconceptions tainting the industry.

 

Myth 1: PR is only for the bad times.

Public Relations can serve a variety of purposes in a marketing toolbox, but its main one is tactfully building and managing a brand’s reputation. A good general rule of thumb in the PR world is that consistency builds trust in a product or service, and that trust is what draws in and ultimately motivates customers to keep coming back. This customer loyalty is especially crucial when a brand receives negative attention.

Crisis management is often misconstrued as a reactive process, but in reality, it’s a very proactive approach. PR professionals are constantly working to help create and maintain a positive reputation for their clients in ways that include highlighting people and initiatives that help drive the brand’s narrative, spreading the word about important client news and programs or planning events that help bring together members of the client’s audience and community. All of this work to build a trustworthy brand image helps ensure that, if the brand has a misstep, customers would still be willing to back it up and stand beside it in times of turbulence.

Myth 2: PR has no value because it’s not quantifiable.

Unlike many industries today, the currency of public relations is something that can’t always be easily translated into tangible numbers. A public relations professional deals in credibility and strength of relationships rather than dollars and cents. However, there are a few different ways to measure the value of a PR strategy, such as the amount of media coverage secured surrounding a client’s product or service.

But these measurements are far more valuable than a dollar amount can represent, because the coverage is earned — not purchased. The third-party validation that comes with earned media adds an extra layer of credibility that can’t be bought. So while there aren’t always hard statistics to determine the success of a campaign, what you do receive is far more valuable: trust. Earning and maintaining the trust of the public is absolutely priceless.

Myth 3: PR stands for Press Release

Press releases are to public relations as a Happy Meal is to McDonald’s: while it’s a popular item, it’s certainly not the only thing on the menu. Likewise, press releases and media relations are only a small part of what PR is or what it can do. Public relations encompasses reputation building and management. It’s developing an internal communication plan, a crisis management plan or a social media strategy. It’s engaging in content marketing, event planning, relationship building and influencer marketing. It’s generating ideas to grow your reach, identify and segment your audience and target them precisely.

PR professionals can bolster your image by booking you at events and entering you in awards, and they can cement your reach and position by a shrewd combination of earned, owned and, in some cases, paid media. Can your press release do all of that?

Myth 4: Anyone Can Do It

Just because you can drive a car, fill it with gas or even change the oil, doesn’t mean you can fix a broken transmission — not when the alternative is using a trained mechanic! Public Relations is the same way. You may be able to market your brand effectively, but if PR is new to you, bringing in an expert can get you better results with a lot less hassle.

A successful PR approach requires a wide skillset that doesn’t just include writing press releases and pitching to the media. It entails creating a consistent brand by writing well, communicating strategically and effectively, building relationships with media, having extensive knowledge about your (and your client’s) industry, and engaging in audience identification and strategic targeting. And most importantly: it’s about having the time and resources to do all of those things.

Successful public relations efforts take more than just the few minutes you might have to set aside each day — it is a full-time, multifaceted job. So while you may want to do it yourself and bask in the blissful “I got us that coverage!” feeling, it might require giving up your day job to do so.

BKI Hot Takes: Negative Reviews Can Be Positive

BKI Hot Takes: Negative Reviews Can Be Positive

If your brand has been around long enough, chances are you’ve experienced negative consumer feedback. Whether it was a low product rating or a scathing online review, it’s never fun to receive criticism. But negative feedback isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, when handled correctly, it can go a long way in helping your brand and the products or services you offer.

Receiving feedback from customers is crucial to a brand’s success. Positive feedback lets us know what we are doing right, while negative feedback can alert us to problems and provide an opportunity to fix them. Though it’s probably safe to assume we would all rather receive one over the other, both are equally important for the well-being of your brand.

Take KFC, for example. When customers complained about the quality of their french fries, the fast food giant responded by changing their recipe and then used actual complaints they had received to promote their new-and-improved product.

This fun, engaging marketing strategy was not only successful because of how it was well-received by customers. It also made a clear statement that the brand has their ear to the ground when it comes to knowing and addressing their customer’s wants.

Negative feedback can also provide the opportunity to improve brand sentiment with your response. A 2017 study by BrightLocal found that customers who have their issue resolved in their first interaction with a business are twice as likely to purchase from that business again.

Nobody knows this to be true quite like Dominos Pizza. After a viral video showing two employees contaminating restaurant ingredients surfaced, the chain started its new “Pizza Turnaround” campaign.

This project centered on using customer feedback to not only revamp their pizza, but their overall brand image as well. The centerpiece of the campaign was a video that used real Dominos employees to tell the story of how the company listened to its critics and changed its pizza recipe for the better.

“You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process of making a better [product].” -Former Dominos CEO Patrick Doyle

Dominos’ response to the onslaught of negative feedback played a significant role in boosting its public image and brand sentiment because of how sincere it was. By taking the time to respond in a way that appropriately and effectively addressed feedback, the company was able to regain trust that had been lost.

Their efforts have paid off financially, too: Domino’s surpassed Pizza Hut in 2017 to become the world’s largest pizza chain, even outperforming the stock of Apple and Amazon in the process.

As shown by both KFC and Dominos, listening to your consumer’s wants and needs and then taking steps to meet them shows your customers that you genuinely care – something that goes a long way in building brand loyalty.

A whopping 68% of customers leave a brand or company because they feel their business is unappreciated. And while you may not be able to incorporate every customer’s input, listening and responding to what they have to say is crucial to keep them coming back.

As marketers, we need to stop looking at negative feedback as damaging to our reputation and start viewing it as opportunities to further enhance our products or services and, as a result, better serve our customers.

BKI Brand Study: How Patagonia Builds Brand Loyalty

BKI Brand Study: How Patagonia Builds Brand Loyalty

In an era where positive news can seem hard to come by, and the smallest incident can severely harm a brand’s reputation, the importance of humble bragging is next-to-none. But how do you promote your company’s good deeds in a way that’s noticeable enough to build goodwill without looking egotistical?

Make it a part of your brand’s mission.

Patagonia, an American outdoor clothing company, has always been at the forefront of social activism. In fact, the company recently updated their mission to clearly define their intentions: “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”

Although the mission is quite lofty, Patagonia seems to be rising to meet the challenge. A few weeks ago, the company announced they were donating $10 million received through tax cuts in 2017 to support grassroots environmental organizations. “Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet,” Rose Marcario, the company’s CEO, wrote in a statement published to LinkedIn .

And while this generous act is certainly a big win for the great outdoors, it’s also a big public relations win for Patagonia itself.

When done correctly, charitable initiatives such as this one can go a long way in helping brands build a positive public image (one of the main goals of PR) — especially with today’s consumers. According to a study conducted by Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR, when deciding between two brands matched in quality and price, 90% of consumers supported the brand that was aligned with a charitable cause. Patagonia’s commitment to support those who support the environment is seen and appreciated by consumers and can make them more likely to choose this brand in the future.

Philanthropic efforts can also help humanize large, wealthy companies like Patagonia, especially when the cause they are supporting is relevant to the brand. Patagonia’s significant financial contribution comes at a time where there are rising concerns for the current and future health of our planet. As a company that promotes outdoor activities, worldly exploration and more, this issue directly affects their brand.

When deciding between two equally matched brands, 90% of consumers supported the brand that was aligned with a charitable cause.

Taking a stance on current issues that relate to their mission and using their platform to do good helps Patagonia position itself as a company that cares. And it also helps portray itself as having its finger on the pulse of current events and issues — another aspect often appreciated by consumers (and not to mention, something that makes organizations look good). Patagonia’s $10 million contribution was dispersed among several grassroots organizations that vary in size, scope and goals. Ultimately, this will create an impact on both a small and large scale.

Patagonia’s success can be attributed to remaining committed to their mission and being authentic in their approach to making a difference. Because the company specializes in outdoor apparel, their consumers will feel the direct impact of their contributions to creating a cleaner, healthier planet. Marcario closed her statement by writing, “In this season of giving, we are giving away this tax cut to the planet, our only home, which needs it now more than ever.”

Want to learn more about the power of good Public Relations? Download our free “Quick Look” eBook below.

Announcing the Creative Catapult Program

Announcing the Creative Catapult Program

With every graduating class, there is a new pool of talent that enters into the workforce. At Bouvier Kelly, we recognize that new talent breeds innovative thinking and inspiration for the future. We also recognize that breaking into the workforce for the first time has its challenges.

This is especially true for industries like advertising and careers in creative/design. In a sea of sharks, creative/design careers are not for the faint of heart. While larger cities may be bustling with opportunity, it’s less so with smaller cities like Greensboro.

Bouvier Kelly’s commitment to the future and the expansion in the field of advertising in this area is what inspired us to develop a comprehensive apprenticeship program for those seeking to pursue a career in creative services and design.

The Creative Catapult Apprenticeship is a six-month program specifically designed to help shape the next generation of talent into marketable employees who will have a greater chance of being valuable assets to marketing departments and advertising agencies across the industry.

“Creativity is a vital element that can make or break any business. Our mission in developing this program is to assemble a pool of reputable talent by providing a springboard for new talent to develop, network and sharpen their skill sets in a real-world marketing environment,” says Phillip Yeary, Creative Director and Partner at Bouvier Kelly.

While working within real client scenarios, the program will highlight five core areas across digital and traditional media. These elements include development in:

  • Marketing Savviness
  • Critical Thinking
  • Conceptual Problem-solving
  • Graphic Design
  • Presentation

Each candidate will receive hourly compensation and will work 18 hours per week. We will be accepting one applicant at a time. Interested candidates can email their resume and letter of intent to creativecatapult@bouvierkelly.com and we will evaluate each candidate on a case-by-case basis.

When Social Media & Public Relations Collide: Reputation Management

When Social Media & Public Relations Collide: Reputation Management

There’s no denying social media’s vital role in most brands’ marketing strategies. When used effectively, it can be a valuable tactic to develop a company’s voice, grow awareness for their products and interact with customers. If you’ve already laid the groundwork for a “reputation management” PR program, then social media could provide a huge boost to those efforts. But how?

Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse

As we discussed in this post, a solid public relations strategy is vital to any brand’s well-being. How else are you going to shine a light on your company’s latest achievement or put out the fire that might threaten to harm the positive sentiment that took you years to build?

Having a course of action in place to capitalize on good news or stop the bleeding during a crisis can only benefit you in the long-run. But that’s not all that goes into forging your overall brand reputation. Those bigger moments might feel like the only defining characteristics, but the daily opinions and perceptions surrounding your company help form a more complete picture of your brand reputation.

So how can you be sure that you’re actively keeping your finger on the pulse of your community and remaining aware of both the good and the bad things being said about your brand?

Two words: Social media.

Including social media in your PR strategy is crucial to keeping your tactics up-to-date. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram provide real-time insights into how people actually feel about your brand.

Because of the widespread adoption of social media, every aspect of your brand has the opportunity to be talked about by a wide audience and can easily become part of your story or reputation. Whether it’s used as a way to offer kudos for the charitable event your company orchestrated, or as a way to make some noise about a negative customer service experience, social media doesn’t discriminate. That’s why it’s vital to take advantage of the positives and quickly squash the negatives.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Today’s social media landscape is one of endless opinions. Consumers are no longer hesitant to voice their grievances (or show their support) on their platform of choice. For example, when a family in Ohio found out that their dog, Cody, had cancer and only a few months to live, they immediately decided to treat him to a cheeseburger from Burger King for each of his remaining days. When the employees at their Burger King found out, they received approval from their manager to gift those cheeseburgers to Cody while he was still alive. The family’s decision to broadcast their generosity over Twitter lead to 976 retweets and 3,988 likes.

Similarly, brand problems can rise from a simple tweet—even for the most social savvy. In 2017, Wendy’s was riding high on a wave of social media glory, roasting naysayers and hecklers left and right, much to the delight of the general public. But what happened next shows just how quickly that positive brand sentiment can evaporate.

In response to a tweet asking if they had any memes to share, they tweeted a meme of “Pepe the Frog” dressed up as Wendy herself. While Pepe initially began life as an innocuous comic strip character, his association with the so-called “Alt Right” movement led to his being classified as an anti-Semitic hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

How the shrewd social media managers at Wendy’s managed to misread Pepe’s current associations is puzzling, but regardless of the original post’s intention, Twitter seized on this gaffe quickly and loudly. In order to try and manage their reputation, Wendy’s immediately did some damage control (though not without some more missteps…”meems”?):

Wendy's Pepe the Frog

Listen & React

The first step in trying to prevent or solve these problems is by listening to your social media channels to see what the general conversation is. Keeping an ear to the ground gives you a chance to keep an eye out for mentions of your brand, but it can also tell you what your competitors are doing right (or wrong) and can help you be one step ahead of the game.

So once you’re listening, what comes next? It’s great to monitor channels so that you know what’s going on, but the only way to build real relationships is to actually respond and join those conversations.

A successful brand knows that it’s vital to be involved with any conversation surrounding your brand. Monitoring social media means that you’re checking your mentions and DMs or keeping track of a specific hashtag or phrase related to your company. If the moment feels right to offer your insights or commentary, it’s important to strike while the iron is hot. But also make sure you read the room: jumping in to a conversation uninvited—especially if you’re taking a sales-heavy angle—could backfire magnificently.

By monitoring your company’s social media platforms, you’ll be able to quickly see and respond to any questions, compliments or complaints that may arise. Using a service like Sprout Social or Hootsuite can help keep all those mentions, comments and more in one place, meaning you don’t have to jump around from platform-to-platform.

A service like Sprout Social can help you keep track of your mentions and conversations across platforms.

As much as your social media channels can act as a way for customers to voice compliments and concerns, they also function as a modern-day customer service avenue. Brands can no longer afford to ignore attempts by customers to track down the answers to questions or service requests over social media. While we sympathize with the extra effort required to keep up with those demands, it may do your brand more harm than you’re aware of to ignore them.

Social media can provide your brand endless opportunities to grow your relationship with your audience and tell your own story. It’s time to stop shying away from the massive influence that social media holds over a brand’s reputation and start using it to your advantage.

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