B2B PR Blog

Make the most our of your B2B PR activity.

Our ec-pr blog holds a wide variety of articles covering Communication, writing Press Releases and Editorial, preparing and making the most of Trade Events and Networking, and much, much more.

Do tell us if you’d like to have our insight on a particular subject, and don’t forget that you can pick up our free guides about event publicity or becoming an Influencer here. Please contact us if you’d like to talk about adding ec-pr to your Marketing team.


Thought Leadership Case Study: SELIS – Amplifying Success

Thought Leadership Case Study: SELIS – Amplifying Success

SELIS – Amplifying Success

Thought Leadership Case Study

BACKGROUND

SELIS (the Shared European Logistics Intelligent Information Space) was a three-year €17 million flagship European Commission-funded research project and part of the EC’s €77 billion Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Bringing together 37 partners f rom across Europe, including research organisations, SMEs and large industry players, SELIS delivered an open source, cloud-based intelligence platform for logistics collaboration. The project hopes to motivate faster, more efficient, flexible and sustainable supply chain ecosystems in Europe.

Challenge

After three years of research & development, during which time the SELIS project team’s own efforts to promote the project had had limited impact, and the logistics community, which was set to be the main adopter and beneficiary of the project’s innovative platform, remained largely unaware of the strides the project was making.

SOLUTION

EC-PR proposed an intensive three-month PR outreach programme aimed at celebrating the successful conclusion of the SELIS project and promoting the commercial benefits of adopting SELIS’ logistics collaboration models. The programme consisted of a proactive media outreach, including profiling key journalists and influencers from across Europe interested in the subject, securing story placements, arranging media interviews and developing news announcements, combined with building thought leadership by means of articles and blog posts.

OUTCOME

After an intensive and brief ramp-up period the programme swiftly generated the first tangible results, including press coverage in tier 1 media outlets, such as Forbes and Intelligent CIO, and leading logistics trade publications, including Logistics Voices, Supply Chain News and JOC.com.

Dr. Takis Katsoulakos and Makis Kouloumbis of Inlecom Systems (the SELIS project coordinating partner) were positioned as thought leaders on innovative new logistics models through article placements in JOC.com, Logistics Voices, Computer Weekly and TechTarget.

The results of SELIS ‘Living Labs’ (real-life testing environments) were communicated through press interviews with key Living Labs partners from the industry and academia who endorsed the project’s outcomes.

“EC-PR have quickly grasped the complexities of the SELIS project and managed to transform them into a compelling media narrative. By building strong connections with our project partners and bringing them into media activities they have strengthened the credibility of our story which is important for future commercialisation of the project’s innovations. The results generated have been impressive.” Dr. Takis Katsoulakos

MD, Inlecom Systems, the SELIS project coordinating partner

SELIS Project at a Glance

Intense ramp-up of PR programme

2

News releases

4

Press interviews with SELIS project partners

3

Feature articles placed

15

Pieces of coverage in tier 1 business and trade publications

1

Speaking opportunity secured

Intense ramp-up of PR programme

2

News releases

4

Press interviews with SELIS project partners

3

Feature articles placed

15

Pieces of coverage in tier 1 business and trade publications

1

Speaking opportunity secured

Intense ramp-up of PR programme

2

News releases

4

Press interviews with SELIS project partners

3

Feature articles placed

15

Pieces of coverage in tier 1 business and trade publications

1

Speaking opportunity secured

More Case Studies

GUARANTEED PERFORMANCE

Being in the right place at the right time. We will deliver feature length coverage to your target press... or your money back

B2B PR – 9 Questions Every Marketing Manager Should Ask Before Hiring A PR Agency

B2B PR – 9 Questions Every Marketing Manager Should Ask Before Hiring A PR Agency

B2B PR – 9 Questions Every Marketing Manager Should Ask Before Hiring A PR Agency

Hiring a PR agency? Questions to ask before you sign up

Before you sign a contract with any PR agency we highly recommend that you ask these questions first.  Ask up front and you are more likely to hire the right PR agency for your business, your relationship will last longer, and it will be a lot more rewarding. Asking these questions can also help you evaluate whether you’re a good fit for each other.  If they can answer them to your satisfaction, snap them up!

 

1. How are we going to measure success?

Your PR agency should be keen to know what success looks like and be interested in your business – therefore, they should be asking lots of questions.  Understanding what success looks like is critical as you need to demonstrate the return on your investment.

Clear objectives and goals should be set for every campaign and you should be clear on how you’re going to measure success, but also what stretch goals you have.  Let’s say for example you want coverage, all coverage is not equal, so be clear on whether you want opinion pieces, editorial or just simply, company mentions, and in which publications.

 

2. Who is going to manage our account?

Often when you meet large PR agencies, they’ll wheel out their most impressive Account Directors, and perhaps even their CEO, depending on the size of your account.  You’ll receive a fancy pitch and feel like a million dollars.  But then…when you actually start working together, those people are nowhere to be seen, you get a junior managing the day to day business, and every call with your Account Director costs.  You may then regret your decision.

So, always ask these types of questions to understand who will be managing your account, and make sure you meet them all before you decide.

  • How many people will be working on my account?
  • What is the experience of the account team?
  • When will they be available to me?
  • Who will I be spending the most time with?
  • Who will be executing the work?

Now, size isn’t everything, in fact with a smaller account team you’ll be able to develop a much closer relationship with mutual understanding. The agency will get to know how you like to work best, and vice versa. That’s why the people who turn up when we pitch are the people you will be spending most of your time with! Find out more about our people here.

 

3. What is your speciality?

The purpose of this question is to establish the relevant experience of the PR agency to your specific industry or requirements.

How connected are they? You want to be certain that when you hire the agency they already have established relationships with the key journalists and editors in your specific sector. If they do, it means they clearly have experience of working with them, and know what specific content publications will and won’t accept. They will have intimate knowledge of the journalists likes and dislikes, and will be able to successfully pitch story ideas first time, every time.

Ultimately, the more specialised and experienced the agency is in your sector, the more successful they will be in delivering phenomenal results for your brand.

 

4. What do you need to know about my business before you can get started?

Here’s the thing. Your PR agency aren’t telepathic. Yes, you can choose an agency with specialised knowledge in your industry, but remember they need to get to know you, your business and your people. So, ask them what they need to know to get started.

Firstly, you’ll need to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that you can confidently share your company secrets – perhaps new product releases, changes of senior management or a merger/acquisition. If you want your PR agency to be proactive, you need to give them as much information as you would any new employee. This will take time. So, be prepared to answer lots of questions, and be prepared to be challenged. Great PR agencies challenge the status quo.

The investment you make in PR is not just financial, it requires your time to brief the PR agency and engage in planning and strategy sessions so that they can hit the ground running and the relationship is successful from the outset. This is why we have a three pronged approach to marketing, starting with research and planning.

 

5. Where do we fall in your client roster?

Knowing where you stand in terms of agency spend and production requirements compared to other clients is critical.

Do you want to be the top dog and be their most important client? Perhaps you do, perhaps you don’t.

What’s critical to understand is how important you are to the agency.  If you’re their smallest client, the reality is that you’ll probably get the most junior account team.  Remember, you want to ensure that the PR agency has time for your business. So, think carefully about the type of agency you want to work with, and where your business will fall into their priority list.

Hopefully, before you’ve even started the agency selection process, you’ve checked out their website for their client roster, and you’ve researched what’s happening in the news with their clients so you have a good understanding of their capability already. We’ve made it super easy for you to find our client roster, check out our case studies here.

 

6. Who are your references?

The hiring process is like hiring an employee. You wouldn’t hire anyone without asking for references. So, ask for them and make the time to call or email those references.  Also, ask for a reference of a client that no longer works with the PR agency.  You need to find out why they don’t work together anymore. Remember, you want to choose an agency with a proven track record of success and many other satisfied past clients. Also ask the questions that are important to you.

 

7. How often will I hear from you?

This may sound like a daft question. It’s not. You need to understand how the PR agency manages client communication and collaboration.

The reason is you want 90% of your budget being spent on real work, not project management or administration.  Not only that, as editorial placements can take months, you want to know what exactly your agency is working on.

What should you expect?

It’s normal to hear from your agency at least once a week, with a monthly report on placements secured and plans for the following month.  Not only that, do expect to hear from your agency when they’ve secured a new opportunity, or they’ve developed an innovative idea to move your brand forward. Not only that, you need to ensure that you’re still on track for success.

 

8. How much budget do I need to allocate to achieve my goals?

If you’ve never added PR to your marketing mix, we highly recommend starting with a six-month pilot project. This will ensure that your new PR agency can gain momentum and measure ROI effectively. Our experience is that a PR campaign needs to run for at least six months to gain any traction.

If you already have an existing PR budget, but you’re not happy with the results, then it’s a different conversation.  Let’s be honest, if you were happy with your PR results, you wouldn’t be reading this!  In this scenario we recommend full disclosure, be clear during the agency recruitment process your budget and more importantly, your expectations of what success looks like. Then, expect the PR agency to deliver a pitch and proposal based on your budget. If you want us to pitch our services, click here.

 

9. What if it all goes wrong?

Negative news happens. Everyone makes mistakes. A crisis is usually rooted in an act of god (rare); deliberate criminal act (uncommon); or human error (most usual) and has resulted in danger or financial damage to third parties and your brand.

How the crisis is handled will directly impact your customers, staff and bottom line.  You want an agency to be confident in crisis management so, ask for examples of what they’ve done and for whom.  They should be telling you how they can set up an emergency reactive press office and the strategies they would deploy to prevent, mitigate and manage negative news, should it occur.

If you’re facing a crisis, you need your PR agency to support you. Ask us how we’ve helped clients in these situations and what we could do for you.

 

Conclusion:

We hope the tips above help you as you decide which B2B PR agency to work with. Ultimately, you must:

  • feel comfortable that you’re in safe hands
  • like the team that’ll be representing you
  • feel confident that they’ll work with you to achieve the positive coverage you deserve

Next Steps

If you want our help to make your remarkable brand visible, valued and understood contact us here.  We love pitching our services to people like you.

ec-pr is a B2B PR Agency specialising in technology, science and engineering firms. We are tech savvy and confident communicators who deliver real results and have a money-back performance guarantee. Find out more about how we measure PR Results here.

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part two of two)

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part two of two)

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part two of two)

B2B messaging should be passionate not apathetic.

Messaging is like being on the dating circuit, and if you fail to shepherd your prospects through the different stages of communication and try to jump straight to pushing a sale, you’re essentially offering nothing more than a ‘quickie’.  Valued partners act as brand ambassadors – they are loyal and want to participate in your success story.

In Part one, I focussed on the first two stages of the messaging roadmap, ‘awareness’ and ‘interest’ and proposed tools of engagement for each. In this article, I complete the loop by addressing the remaining two ‘preference’ and ‘action’ explaining how you use them and what tools you might consider.

 

Once you’ve built brand familiarity and trust with your prospect through the first two stages, the next stage is to start guiding their attention to your remarkable credentials – which if you’ve done phase one and two correctly, will perfectly match what they are now looking for.

 

Preference:

B2B Messaging: Showcase your brand on pedestal

Now is the optimum time to showcase your brand and offering

Let’s talk about you baby!  At long last, it’s ok to talk about you and put your brand on a pedestal.  The next stage of communication is all about defining in the mind of your Persona(s) how your offering is the most desirable option for addressing their specific needs.  If you have spent time nurturing them through phases one and two, this will be a logical progression of the conversation.  Think of it as the third date!

Tools:  This preference messaging will be delivered through your website, specification sheets, tailored presentations and tender documentation.  Indeed, most businesses will have this material in abundance – the problem is, you’ve probably been using it at the wrong stage of the relationship and in terms of content, it’s been developed with you and your interests at its heart, rather than those of your prospect.

Action:

B2B Messaging: Hot air balloons illustrating competitive advantage

Now is the right time to shine a light on the advantage of working with you over anyone else.

This is the close, the finesse. 😉 So, at this stage, the prospect is considering two options – you and one other. Relentless telephone calls and emails are not going to nudge you over the line.  This phase is about communicating the value you can add, the successes you have delivered to other businesses and shining a light on the advantage of working with you over anyone else – in specific regard to the problems they are addressing.

Tools: This is reasonably straight forward: case studies (both editorial & sales), LinkedIn references, Social Video, co-authorship focussing on success stories and success metrics – while bringing your company’s personality and values to life.

 

Please note every company’s messaging will differ. Once you have clear messaging, you can apply it methodically – creating a coherent customer journey.  This provides a logical and realistic purpose to your marketing activities with the bonus of your leadership team being engaged and immersed in the process because they were engaged from the start.  The outcome therefore is more engaging communication that delivers greater impact, longevity and effect.

Next Step

Why your B2B Tech Business Needs A Communication StrategyEC-PR’s B2B Messaging Lab delivers bespoke workshops to facilitate the development of your communication strategy.

Find out more about Our Approach to B2B Messaging Development for B2B Tech businesses in our article, “Why your B2B Tech Business Needs a Communication Strategy

 

The Forge

The forge iconIf you are ready to start applying your Comms Strategy within all your Marcomms collateral then you need The Forge. This integrates PESO modelling to measure the use, reach and integration of activity.

 

Make your voice heard: take the Insight 2020 Survey

Make your voice heard: take the Insight 2020 Survey

Make your voice heard: take the Insight 2020 Survey

Do you want to know what issues your peers are struggling with and what strategies they are using to succeed?

Simply take 5 minutes to make your voice heard in the Insight 2020 Survey we’ve commissioned.

By taking part in this survey you will receive insights not otherwise available, such as:

  • the top 3 marketing priorities & challenges for 2020 for B2B businesses in your sector
  • the value of a communication strategy to technology, engineering, maritime and IT organisations
  • how senior management teams can support you in 2020

Please could you fill it in yourself. Every voice matters. You’ll be pleased to know it’s primarily tick boxes and takes less than 5 minutes to complete and is super easy to complete on your mobile.

Once you’ve taken the survey please do share it with your peers, teams and network. We need responses from marketing and communication experts in technology, engineering and scientific organisations. Ideally we need to get 1,000+ responses to create a valuable and reputable business resource for marketing and communication professionals.

The results will be freely available by January 2020 at the latest.

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part one of two)

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part one of two)

B2B PR – Let’s talk about having a ‘quickie’ (part one of two)

The customer engagement process has always fascinated me particularly the way marketing communications must evolve in order to stay in harmony with the customer’s journey.

 

Messaging is like being on the dating circuit. The clearer you are in your own mind about what you’re looking for and what success will look like, the more likely you are to achieve it. Essentially, there are four stages through which a relationship must grow to successfully form an enduring commercial relationship – awareness, interest, preference and action.

When you try and jump straight to the preference or action stage, you’re essentially offering nothing more than a ‘quickie’, treating the prospect with neither care nor respect in pursuit of your own goal. Often, when companies focus only on chasing numbers rather than focus on building a brand, they forget to nurture their prospects through the different stages of the buying cycle and as a result, they miss out on all the benefits associated with a real partnership – such as longevity and loyalty.

 

Neck tattooed with the word Loyalty

Split into two parts, this first article focusses on the first two stages of the messaging roadmap, ‘awareness’ and ‘interest’ and recommends the most effective tools of engagement. Part two will address the ‘preference’ and ‘action’ stages.

 

Awareness:

In this phase it is essential that you are visible, looking your best, and demonstrating that you are engaged, understand and have an interest in the market issues and challenges that your prospect faces. This should be led from the top. Your leaders (or subject matter experts) need to be noticeable, expressing opinion within LinkedIn articles, sharing relevant insights, authoring thought leadership, presenting at key events – walking the industry walk – sharing their passion and immersing themselves in the issues that matter to the persona they seek to partner with.

The impact of an engaged and passionate leader on a company’s PR strategy cannot be underestimated. In the case of Concirrus, CEO, Andrew Yeoman is a prolific and insightful commentator and speaker.  He is vocal, informed, opinionated and very much ‘in’ the marine insurance industry, a sector the company is targeting.  Every action has a positive and equal reaction – in the case of Andrew, the soundwaves reverberate, and the message is amplified through each and every PR engagement.

Red umbrella standing out amidst grey umbrellasTools:  Thinking about the PESO model and what tools should be used in this phase (accepting this will vary from business to business and campaign to campaign), the key tools are likely to include: event sponsorship, conference speaking platforms, LinkedIn engagement, exhibitions and news management. Your brand needs to be visible and looking its best. Everywhere your target persona ‘goes’ – you need to be.

 

 

Interest:

Once you have built up a level of familiarity through consistent presence in the target persona’s space, you need to work on building trust and engagement.  This is where you help your target persona to better understand the specific nature of their challenges, as well as the options available to them.  It is where you encourage them to think about the ideal solution, its attributes and even values.

Pink balloons held up against blue skyTools: This is where thought leadership articles can be invaluable, as well as independent round tables, white papers, podcasts and social videos and objective explainers with strong visual prompts.

Going back to our dating analogy, during this stage we are moving from ‘I like the look of you’ to ‘I want to know you a lot better’ – now is not the time to ask them if they want to shack-up! Your persona must feel that as a result of engaging with you, they are better equipped to deal with their challenges, and they are confident that you have their best interests at heart.

Throughout the awareness and interest phases, your focus is entirely on building familiarity, trust and influence before starting the next phase, although it’s fair to say that in the words of Simon Sinek it’s an ‘infinite game’ and each phase will be in play as long as the business is seeking to grow.  In part two, completing the customer journey through ‘preference’ and ‘decision’ messaging is considered.

Next Step

Why your B2B Tech Business Needs A Communication StrategyFind out more about Our Approach to Messaging Development for different personas at different stages of the buying cycle in our article, “Why your B2B Tech Business Needs a Communication Strategy

The Forge

The forge iconIf you are ready to start applying your Comms Strategy within all your Marcomms collateral then you need The Forge. This integrates PESO modelling to measure the use, reach and integration of activity, as mentioned above.

 

Is your communication strategy a roadmap or roadblock?

Is your communication strategy a roadmap or roadblock?

Is your communication strategy a roadmap or roadblock?

If you feel you’re working harder than your business performance reflects, that your resources are stretched and that the returns don’t seem to reflect your investment as well as you’d expected, then a communication strategy may just give you the marginal gain you need.

 A communication strategy means different things to different people. So, for the sake of clarity, what I’m talking about is a road map which shows you how to identify and then persuade your ideal client to purchase your product or service, within the context of your commercial objectives.

It enables you to consciously shepherd your prospects from the bottom of the pyramid where they are in a state of absolute ignorance (of your brand) to brand advocate – in other words, at the top of the pyramid. Your communication strategy provides context for you to select appropriate tools and activities to ease your prospects through each phase.

 

Never forget that it is people, not companies or job titles, who make decisions about you. It is how you relate to people that will determine whether you succeed or fail, and it is for this reason that we put people at the heart of your communication strategy.

Low hanging fruit

Firstly, your communication strategy should scope out amongst whom you are most likely to achieve the results your business is targeted with. This will provide you with focus. An iterative process best achieved by brainstorming to identify who they are, where they work and why they are a good target for your product or service. By engaging a cross-functional team, you can ensure that you don’t miss any important opportunities.

It is worth bearing in mind that by working as a senior cross-functional team, you also give the project gravitas and authority. This is not a job for the interns, if you are serious about changing to a higher gear.

Where the ‘who, where and why’ cross over, you have your sweet spot, your focus for your comms strategy. If you feel that you have two or three possible sweet spots you have to a) prioritise them and b) decide whether you have the resources to pursue all of them proactively and effectively.

Persona(s)

A persona is a representation of your ideal customer(s) and they can be a lot of fun to develop. You should have no more than three of four – more will be unmanageable and probably means you haven’t done the first part of the process properly. The persona is where you capture all the key attributes of your target decision maker(s) – making them feel like a real person even though they’re not. You will collaborate internally to identify these attributes in enough detail for you to feel you know them – from what university they went to, to the media they read, their aspirations, motivations, fears and irritations – everything that makes them who they are in the work environment. Because, if you understand them, you will be able to better craft communications that interests and engages them.

See our Case Study featuring Lloyds Maritime Academy showing how a Communication Strategy can give clarity and structure to marketing efforts, enabling the marketing team to target different audiences at different stages of the buying cycle.

The value proposition

Once upon a time someone set up your business because they thought it was a good idea, they thought it filled a niche, that someone would pay good money for it – they had a pretty good idea of the value proposition. The comms strategy needs this value proposition to be clearly articulated. It should be robust and should have been interrogated to breaking point and then put back together.

Positioning statement(s)

A positioning statement is essentially a rationale for investing in this specific ‘thing’, whether it be a product or service offering. Identify the need and niche it is fulfilling and why it is better than alternatives currently available. Everything you develop should be interrogated in this way – from a business perspective if it delivers no specific distinguishable benefit– why invest in it? If you can see no rationale for it, how on earth will a prospective customer?

Read our brand awareness case study showing how we helped tech business Predatar find “absolute clarity around our value proposition and our messaging throughout the different stages of the buying cycle“.

Messaging

Imagine: I’ve never met you before and you’ve never heard of my company and you receive an email from me which is entitled: ‘Fligflamm – delivers immediate cost savings’. How likely are you to read it? Be honest. Your to-do list is off the page and you have 200 emails in your inbox. You’re not going to read it.

Messaging is about saying the right thing at the right stage of the buying cycle. It informs you when to talk about issues, when to mention brand, when to focus on features/benefits and when to showcase your success stories. I’m a big fan of Mike Gospe (author of The Marketing High Ground) and we use his Message Box model, see below, to draw out the correct messages for each stage of the buying cycle. (In fact, we reference him a lot – do buy his books, they’re brilliant!)

When you have clarity about what you should be saying to whom and when – it makes choosing your campaign tools a lot more intuitive.

Validation

The final stage of developing your communication strategy is the validation. Engage with existing customers to make sure your assumptions and understandings resonate with them. You’ll be surprised what you learn – it never ceases to amaze me what little nuggets of information and insight emerges.

And then you’re ready to plan your marketing investments, including B2B PR, with greater precision and purpose.

 

Next step

the messaging lab iconEC-PR’s Messaging Lab delivers bespoke workshops which can facilitate the development of your communication strategy. If you’d like to see more detail of our Communication Strategy Toolkit do get in touch!