If your organization’s marketing and public relations teams aren’t working hand in glove, you’re missing a key lead generation opportunity.
That’s the word from three experts in B2B PR and marketing:
- Wendy Marx, president of Marx Communications, a B2B public relations firm; she blogs about B2B communications for Fast Company
- Laura Sturaitis, Executive Vice President of Media Services and Product Strategy, Business Wire, a press release distribution company
- Tom Becktold, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Business Wire
They agree that, more than ever before, prospects are engaging with B2B organizations through public relations efforts. They share seven opportunities to transform this engagement into leads:
1. Make it easy for everyone to embrace, understand and share your story
Journalists don’t have a monopoly on news
People are gathering information from all kinds of sources.
“There are so many avenues to spread your message, it totally frees up what you can do in public relations,” says Marx. “You can share news on your blog, your website, social media, YouTube; you’re no longer solely dependent on journalists to get the word out.”
Multimedia press releases use links, videos and images to tell the story, and they attract attention. Sturaitis has found they attract three to five times more attention than the traditional news release. They allow audiences to engage with your organization and spread your message in the way they prefer.
At right is an example. Click on the image to see the entire interactive release.
A news organization may run the release verbatim. A blogger may grab an image. A prospect doing a Google search may send the video to decision makers.
2. Always include a call-to-action in your press release
Again, journalists aren’t the only ones reading them.
“Drive readers back to a landing page or specific content on your website where you can collect their contact information, track where they’re coming from, and add them to an email list,” advises Marx. “Not only will this generate leads, it can directly measure public relations effectiveness.”
3. Get more media coverage by making the lives of journalists easier
Give them only what they want most: a story they can use
“Journalists and bloggers are very hardworking. They don’t have a lot of time, and they don’t want information that’s not relevant to what they’re doing,” says Marx.
Do your homework to thoroughly understand what the journalist or blogger is covering. Provide the writer useful information to help develop a good story that applies to his or her beat.
Reporters want more than words
“Reporters want visual content,” Becktold points out. “Between doing a piece where there are no multimedia resources and doing a piece that includes them, reporters and bloggers are generally going to opt for using the multimedia content.”
Audit your website
Is it easy for reporters to find the information they need, such as biographies, downloadable photos or essential company information?
“Click through your website as if you’ve never been there before. Pay attention to where the links take you,” advises Sturaitis. “Is it logical? If you’re a reporter on deadline at 9:30 p.m., are you going to be able to easily find the company address or how the CEO’s name is spelled?”
4. Repurpose your media coverage
“If you get great press, that’s just half the job,” says Marx. “Use social media to promote it. Talk it up in your blog. Send it out as an email to prospects and clients.”
5. Pay keen attention to SEO keywords
When Public Relations and Marketing use different keywords, it can undermine search engine rankings, warns Becktold. This affects organic traffic and can even increase pay-per-click costs.
In contrast, when PR and Marketing use precisely the same keywords, this can significantly improve organic search rankings and decrease the cost of pay-per-click advertising, he explains.
“Google your keywords and see what pops,” he advises. “If your name doesn’t show up in organic when pay-per-click advertising appears, your keywords may be misaligned.”
6. Focus on what the customer values
“It seems like marketing communications tools and platforms are changing every nanosecond now,” confesses Marx. “What won’t change as fast is what your customer values about your company and the importance of promoting that.”
That’s why it’s important to:
- Clearly and concisely communicate your value
“Good writing will always matter,” says Becktold. “Get to the point. Search engines prefer that and so does your audience. Everyone’s attention spans are shorter. Be compelling, be engaging.”
- Know precisely how your customers are finding out about your value
“Focus on where your clients are; you don’t have to try every new platform or tool, you just need to be aware of them,” advises Sturaitis.
A good way to learn where your clients are coming from is to talk with whoever manages your website analytics, she notes.
“They’re going to have the analytics on every webpage to tell you how people are getting there,” she explains. “That will identify where your audiences are and how they like to engage with you.”
- Be consistent with your value messaging
“Don’t talk about your company one way on your website, a different way in social media, and yet another way to the media,” says Marx.
7. Use what you learn
“The public relations process will help clarify who your audiences are, where they congregate, what kind of conversations they’re having and how they interact with different types of content,” says Becktold. “That’s critical knowledge that benefits the organization’s entire lead generation effort.”
Here’s the upshot: Public relations is so much more than just press kits and publicity. In fact, Marx believes public relations professionals were the first content marketers. The faster you position public relations at the marketing strategy table, the more quickly it can become an invaluable, cost-effective lead generation tool.