A complete guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning for 2023
Everything you need to know for successful B2B PR campaign planning
A strategic PR guide for B2B Marketers to help you execute your communication strategy.
The planning phase of any communication strategy should always begin with the initial task of setting out some clearly defined PR objectives which should be closely aligned to, and intended to achieve, the overarching goals of the business.
There are many PR goals your campaign may want to achieve, including those such as increasing brand awareness, promotion of a new product, more involved engagement, or simply having a bigger share of voice in the market.
Your communication strategy, as detailed above, provides you with your overarching, strategic approach, whilst your campaign plan should flesh out the details of how it will be delivered, where and when it will be communicated and who will be responsible for delivering it.
Five steps to B2B PR Campaign Planning
Turn your messaging into brilliant ideas
Creative messaging for the customer journey
Every customer goes through what is called a ‘funnel’, or a customer journey, before committing to purchase from you. Their journeys and funnels may each differ in the length of time and they should be offered corresponding messaging accordingly, which wil be captured in your communication strategy.
- Engagement phase: where you’re developing trust and authority.
- Solution phase: Here you’re building rapport and credibility.
- Reinforcement phase: You’re securing interest and preference
- Value phase: you’re demonstrating how their life will improve by using your product/service.
Therefore when B2B PR campaign planning you should know what to say at each stage of the buying cycle, but how do you turn this messaging into creative ideas for compelling content?
The EC-PR approach is to create a ‘Brilliant Ideas Bank’ (BIB) to hold all your initial ‘seed’ ideas for development.
Create a BIB in 4 easy steps
1 Create a table for each target persona
2 In the first column you are going to jot down your seed idea. In columns #2 to #5 you will indicate which message the seed ideas most closely support
3 Each seed idea should be no more than a headline to begin with. It is often helpful to frame it as a question.
4 For each message, consider the key phrases and write down as many questions about that phrase that a buyer might ask. Don’t assume your buyer has nay in-depth level of knowledge and expertise.
Choosing your media channels
The next stage of your campaign planning is to ensure the appropriate messages are served to the right person, at the right stage of their journey, in the most appropriate format.
There are four stages to the buying cycle:
Your target buyers will move through these stages at different speeds. So, you need to give them the opportunity to become familiar with your brand at a pace that is right for them, which means you need to be ever present.
A most valuable point of reference in your communication strategy is where your target market ‘hang out’. Where do they spend their time and go for their information? This information, which you should have collated, will guide you in terms of where your messages need to appear.
The four different types of media channels from which to choose from are paid, earned, shared, and owned; often referred to as the PESO model.
Owned media channels are the channels that belong to your brand and include your marketing assets, website content, social posts and blogs. You have complete ownership of your owned media, so these channels should be consistent, on-brand and on-message.
Earned media opportunities are the 3rd party opportunities you’re given, to share your achievements, opinion or thought leadership. These are when you’re being invited to contribute, as someone looks to you as an industry authority, who people will find interesting and engaging.
Paid media are the channels you pay for, for your content to appear on them, such as digital advertising, radio, TV etc. The content is created and controlled by you, but it appears on channels your brand doesn’t own or control.
Shared media is a term referring to the share-ability of social media. With the whole world now online, a visible online presence is required in order for your brand to be valued and understood.
An integrated approach
At EC-PR, we’re huge advocates of an integrated, ‘converged media’ approach, as PR is in fact media neutral. PR embraces any channel which helps to further a brand’s reputation. The key is to be involved and engaged in all four channels because they represent a high mix of high and low trust media, which will make your comms credible.
Download our guide and get the perfect media blend
In our Definitive B2B PR Campaign Planning Guide we’ve included an example of how to select the best media blend for your business.
Understand your place in the media landscape
B2B publications, both print and online, represent a ‘high trust’ channel and the business case for media coverage is well documented. Our own article explaining the business case for B2B PR tech scale ups illustrates how media coverage builds brand awareness, credibility and trust among your target audiences. Another take on this is Forbes’ article on how PR is playing a crucial role in the evolving B2B PR landscape.
To measure your progress, you need to create a benchmark and you do this by evaluating how you are performing on key messages and against your main competitors, in your most influential publications. Measure whether your key messages have been covered by your top publications in the last six months. Compare that to your competitors’ performance in the same reports or articles. Did they also get mentions? And how did your messaging overlap, or not? This exercise will give you an initial benchmark against which you can then score your performance as time goes on.
Choose your spokespeople
You need subject matters experts to deliver a good interview. This means answering the question, delivering interesting insight and weaving in key messages while also being engaging.
To evaluate whether your subject matter experts could be a suitable spokesperson, you can conduct this ‘quick and dirty’ exercise.
Invite the nominated expert to an internal meeting to talk about a given area of their expertise for 12 minutes. You want to know the: what, why, where, when and how of a particular issue as well as what your company or brand can do to resolve or improve the situation. This is a total of six questions.
Then assess their suitability by asking:
1 Was the answer to the question clear?
2 Was the answer to the question appropriately concise?
3 Was the answer interesting?
4 Was the delivery engaging?
5 Was the company solution proposed with conviction and clarity?
For more on finding the right spokespeople
Download our B2B PR Campaign Planning Guide for a step by step spokesperson assessment and guidance on how to engage them.
Launch your campaign
Once you have followed steps 1-4 you will have set your benchmark, selected your media channels, developed a bank of seed ideas for future content and settled on a process for selecting your nominated spokesperson.
Only once these steps are complete will you be ready to move on to the campaign delivery phase – the phase that shifts from strategy to tactics as you look to research, build and distribute compelling content that your clients and prospects will love.
5a The content calendar
It is a written schedule of when and where you plan to publish upcoming content. Typically your content calendar will include upcoming pieces including blogs and insights, status updates, planned promotional activity, partnerships, industry events and key dates as well as any updates to existing content.
Now it’s all down to the delivery!
By following this process you have equipped yourself with assets that speak to your target audiences and you will have a plan of engagement rooted in messaging that will appeal and inspire them. Your campaign plan has been designed to deliver your business objectives as specified in your communication strategy. Disciplined and methodical delivery of your plan will ensure you make strides to achieving your goals.