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What makes a communication strategy successful?

What makes a communication strategy successful?

What makes a communication strategy successful?

To make a communication strategy successful, it must be both effective and engaging.

In order to be effective, your communication strategy must be well structured, logical, and concise. There are five key elements that provide your communication strategy with structure and will ensure it is logic and focussed.

To be engaging, your communication strategy needs to help your people to do their job, and achieve their objectives, more easily – giving them a sense of ownership and achievement, in equal measure.

Why does a communications strategy need to be successful?

A communication strategy needs to be successful because it is the plan by which you will achieve your potential.  Rooted in fact, guided by experience, and designed to inspire your internal stakeholders and engage you external audiences.

How to structure a communication strategy correctly

There are five essential components in a communication strategy that provide a winning structure.  These are set within the context of your commercial, or business, goals. These five elements are:

 the value proposition

This articulates why you exist, and embraces your customer-promise i.e. at what you strive to excel.

2 sector prioritisation

This is where you identify your low-hanging fruit.  These are your quick and easy (easier) wins because of a good fit.

target personas

By being clear about who your decision-makers are and what pain points or aspirations you want to help them will enable you to develop compelling messaging and achieve laser-accurate targeting.

positioning statements

Your positioning statements clarify why a given decision-maker should want to select your brand over any alternative.

5 messaging, for each stage of the buying cycle

Each stage of the buying cycle requires attention – from wooing to winning, each phase requires a tailored approach.

For your communication strategy to be successful, you cannot skip or short-change any of the five elements – they must be given attention and respect.

Each element should be developed in sequence starting with the value proposition. This is because the elements inform each other and co-exist enabling a compelling narrative to be created. If you are not clear on why you exist and what your point of difference is, the customer certainly won’t! If you don’t know where your low-hanging fruit are (sector prioritisation) how can you prioritise resources to address it, and if you don’t know who you are targeting, how can you create messaging that will inspire them to act or think differently in relation to your product or service.

A communication strategy should be concise. If something is brief, it is memorable. If it’s vague or filled with adjectives and long sentences – it will confuse rather than direct. Strategy is, after all, a roadmap for which you need clear, specific, and actionable directions.

successful communication strategy

What makes a communication strategy inspiring

A marketing communication strategy will only successfully inspire change if your people see its relevance to the role for which they are responsible or the role to which they aspire. Creating a clearly defined, company-wide, mission (value proposition) gives people the opportunity to buy into something special from which they can get a sense of community and status. Providing focus will give staff context to their activities and in turn, will be better able to see the value of their contribution – the more momentum, the better.

It is worth taking the time to consider each part of the communication strategy with different groups of internal stakeholders. Explain to them the purpose of each element and ask them to reflect on how this makes them feel and why. Listen to their answers and consider any resistance. Then ask them what the content and ideas within the communication strategy means to them both as individuals and as ambassadors for the business.

Remember the legendary NASA story:

“In 1962, President John F. Kennedy visited NASA for the first time. During his tour of the facility, he met a janitor who was carrying a broom down the hallway. The President then casually asked the janitor what he did for NASA, and the janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” He kept the building clean so that the scientists, engineers, and astronauts could focus on their mission of putting “man on the moon”. They did not have to worry about spending their time on trashcans, bathrooms, or hallways. He did that for them. He saw where his contribution fit in the organization. He connected his purpose with theirs.”

A successful communication strategy will be rooted in fact

It goes without saying, the reason you recruit the most informed experts within your business to help create the communication strategy is to root it in knowledge and expertise.  Expert insight drawn from your best and brightest in operations, sales, product development and customer service are critical to ensuring the robustness of your communication strategy.

The last and most precious piece of insight incorporated into your communication strategy should be gleaned though a customer validation exercise. Where your trusted advisors, and customers, are asked for their perceptions of your brand, service, performance, and marketing.  Not only can this feedback be used to fine tune the communication strategy, but it will also provide you with reassurance of the accuracy and focus of your plan before moving into the activation phase.

what makes a successful communication strategy

How do I write a communication strategy?

In our experience, you cannot write a communication strategy alone. It is a collaborative and iterative exercise. Each of the five elements need to be addressed, reviewed, drafted, and re-drafted until your elements are concise, robust, credible, and compelling.

Concise

People remember short punchy phrases not waffly paragraphs, so try and reduce the number of words with each iteration, without losing the sense of what is being stated.

Robust

Challenge your statements so that you have a coherent argument for naysayers further down the line. Remember ‘I know’ always trumps ‘I think’.

Credible

This is strategy not a fairy tale, so every claim must be underpinned with tangible evidence.

4 Compelling

Your communication strategy should excite and inspire your internal and external audiences.

For help developing a compelling communication strategy, reach out to our specialists today. Or download our simple 8-step communication strategy guide here.

Your 8-Step Communication Strategy

8-Step Communication strategy guide

A comprehensive guide to delivering your business goals using intelligent and relevant messaging.

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Three questions every CMO should ask before hiring a PR agency

Three questions every CMO should ask before hiring a PR agency

Three questions every CMO should ask before hiring a PR agency

Appointing a PR agency can be daunting and time consuming, but by asking the right questions you can make your process efficient and rewarding and your outcome a success. By securing the right blend of expertise, you can unlock new channels of influence and persuasion you might not have had access to before.

So, how do you find a PR agency that will maximise benefits and achieve results that you would likely not be able to generate yourself? First things first, ask these questions, and you’ll be able to nail the criteria that are most important to you and your business.

As a CMO, there might be some questions you have already answered, such as ‘why now?’ Perhaps you have an important launch coming up, or you want to improve your brand awareness in an upcoming business quarter. If you’re wondering what to ask next, we’ve put together this list.

1 What do you need to know about my business?

Even the greatest PR experts, with years in the industry and a portfolio of impressive clients, are not telepathic. They need to know about your business aspirations, ambitions, and challenges. They will need to understand your business functions, meet your team, and find out what it is you want to achieve. Ask them what they need from you, whether that’s a customer roster, press releases on new products or services, changes of senior management, or upcoming mergers. All of this, of course, will be covered by an NDA, so you can be at ease sharing this valuable information.

Good things take time, and a great PR agency will leave no stone unturned, so be prepared to answer a lot of questions and offer up time for face-to-face meetings or calls that can inform decision making.

The investment you make in PR is not just financial, it requires time and careful consideration to brief the PR agency and engage in planning and strategy sessions. It’s a relationship that requires nurturing so that they can hit the ground running, create incredible campaigns, and deliver successful outcomes.

hiring a PR agency

2 Who will be on our PR team?

‘Who will be on our PR team’ may not always be the same as ‘who will be on the sales pitch’. Be wary of who a PR agency features on the ‘team’ slide of any presentation deck. Large PR agencies might feature the most impressive Account Directors, and perhaps even their CEO, depending on the size of your account. With the promise of director-level expertise for your campaigns, you might be surprised to see it’s a very different story when you start working together. Those people are suddenly nowhere to be seen, and instead, your day-to-day contact is a junior account manager.

Always ask this question before you proceed so you can understand who will be managing your account. Take this opportunity to get to know them as well and find out how you’ll be working with them on the day-to-day basis. Ask each team member to describe their role, their strengths and why they think they’d be great at representing your brand. Get them to outline the following too:

Experience and areas of industry expertise

Previous clients

Prior successes

Reviews and testimonials

‘Sweet spot’: What aspect of their job they really love – the answer can be telling

When it comes to PR agency teams, size isn’t everything. With a smaller, tight-knit, account team you’ll be able to develop a much closer relationship with mutual understanding. Together you can get to know each other’s work styles, and communicate in the right way, and ensure that the work you do together is successful and rewarding.

How does your agency measure outcomes?

Understanding what success looks like is critical as you need to demonstrate the return on your investment – how your agency measures outcomes is key. 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 goals you have. Let’s say for example you want press coverage, all coverage is not equal, so be clear on whether you want opinion pieces, editorial or just company mentions in leading publications.

Ask about the tools they use for tracking results and analytics, and find out how they used them for previous clients. This is a way to find out what metrics they will be delivering, and how often they can pull reports that will feed into your weekly, monthly, and quarterly business meetings.

When hiring a PR agency you should also choose someone who looks beyond those initial measurements to factors that will help your business grow, such as tracking how much your prospective client email list and traffic to your website have grown because of a specific PR campaign.

Ultimately, the PR agency you choose can be a great complement to your marketing efforts, drive more traffic to your site, and facilitate brand awareness that gets you in front of the right customers. So don’t be afraid to meet with lots of agencies, and ask them plenty of questions, before you decide on one to proceed with.

If you want to know more about B2B communication and the work EC-PR does for its clients, get in touch, or browse some of our tech PR case studies. Download our guide on how much PR costs and read our helpful post on how to write the perfect brief for your PR agency.

Hiring a PR agency - what to ask

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Seven steps to creating a strategic PR plan

Seven steps to creating a strategic PR plan

Seven steps to creating a strategic PR plan

A strategic PR plan can help you move beyond rushed press releases and piecemeal media placements to get real results from your PR efforts.

To get started, simply follow these seven steps:

Step one: Set a benchmark for your strategic PR plan

The first step in the strategic PR planning process is to set a benchmark and review why you are where you are in terms of brand awareness and marketing performance. Start by benchmarking the strength of your brand in the marketplace with a brand audit, and ensuring you have a clear communications strategy in place.

From here, you can map out previous media coverage, take note of successful story pitches from the past, and consider the strength of existing relationships with journalists, bloggers, and other media figures.

Aside from editorial media, analyse the strength of your web content and social media to get a sense of what is working and what needs to be changed. Platforms like Google Analytics and Hootsuite can help you pinpoint content that is performing well and determine the qualities that helped it to appeal to your audience.

Step two: Define your PR goals and objectives

Setting your PR goals and objectives will be more effective with a clear idea of how previous campaigns have performed and you can decide whether you want to extend PR activity in a similar direction, or find a new approach.

Your overarching goals should be firmly aligned with a business and marketing plan — be this supporting the introduction of new products, expanding into a new area, establishing your expertise, raising brand awareness, or just boosting your bottom line.

These goals should then be distilled into specific and measurable objectives, such as increasing web traffic, getting coverage in top tier publications, or boosting your social media presence by gaining a certain number of engaged followers.

Consider tying your goals to the SMART framework – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

To set measurable goals, you will need to consider how to track the results of your campaign. This might mean looking to specific metrics like the number of articles placed in top tier media publications, orders for a new product or service, mentions on social media, website traffic, or the amount of press clippings that mention your company.

PR Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning
Your complete Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Including example PR campaigns, content calendar templates, and audit checklists.

Download

Step three: Determining the target audience for ‘this’ PR campaign

Determining who the target audience is for your PR campaign is a critical decision.  With your goals and objectives in mind, consider the decision-makers that can turn the tables of fortune in your direction — the individuals, groups and communities that have the power to choose your product or service.

Examine the demographics, psychographics, and digital behaviour of your ideal buyer, and create buyer personas. The more you know about your target audience, the more you can tailor your strategy to be effective.

strategic pr plan target audience
Depending on the nature of your business, you might consider these aspects of your target audience:

1 Location

Are they city slickers or country bumpkins? Knowing where your audience resides will help you pitch stories to the right publications, and tailor online content to the right locality.

2 Media habits

Do they read specific paper publications, or prefer to digest content online? Understanding the type of media your target audience engages with will tell you which media figures are worth pitching stories to.

3 Characteristics

What interests do they share? Knowing what makes your target audience tick can help you identify what sort of messages are likely to resonate with them.

Step four: Create key compelling messaging

With a clear idea of your target audience, you can craft compelling messages to provoke thoughts, words, or deeds.

The brand voice, language, and approach of your messaging will form the backbone of your campaign and guide all the content you create — whether that’s a pitch, press release, or social media campaign.

This messaging needs to reflect what the PR campaign is trying to achieve, and it should be concise, easy to understand and memorable. The messaging should also mesh with other marketing and communications activity including advertising. 

strategic pr plan media channels

Step five: Match your message to the media channel

You need to match your message to the media channel to secure the greatest impact. Once you have your key messaging, you can determine the type of content and preferred distribution platforms.

Find the paper publications and the digital stomping grounds of your target audience, decide which ones you will use to disseminate your message, and begin to build a media list.

Your choice of channel should be based on your target audience. Bear in mind that demographics can change, with audiences across social media channels constantly in flux as the services evolve, and traditional magazines pivoting over time to attract different groups of people.

Thought leaders are respected for their depth of knowledge while Influencers are generally admired for their celebrity.

Step six: Distribute your editorial

You need to distribute your editorial to named journalists who have an interest in your subject matter.  Once you have a small number of focused channels, check the editorial calendars of your target publications — whether mainstream media or digital creators — and consider the pitching deadlines in advance to create a content schedule.

The ideal schedule will consist of content published at regular intervals throughout the year. Consistent media coverage is more beneficial than singular events, creating a steady stream of engagement that draws more leads into the top of the funnel and boosts growth.

Step seven: Measure the success of your strategic PR plan

Don’t forget to measure the success of your strategic PR plan! The final step of a PR plan is very similar to the first: reviewing your objectives and measuring the results of your efforts. Compiling analysis of media activity across different platforms into a single report will then form a clear foundation for the following phase of strategic PR.

To start forming your strategic public relations strategy, reach out to our specialists today. And if you found this article valuable, read our guide to PR Campaign Planning or download the complete guide here.  

Or, if you’d just like to stay in touch – sign up  to receive regular insights on how to make your PR work harder. 

PR Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

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What is B2B PR?

What is B2B PR?

What is B2B PR?

Are you looking to release the potential of your B2B technology brand? This article addresses the most asked questions about B2B PR; what it is, how Public Relations adds value and how to evaluate whether it’s doing a good job.

What is Public Relations (PR)?

PR is the pro-active management of your reputation.  It’s the management of your communication process, intended to create positive perceptions amongst your target audience and customers. This is so that people think and speak positively about your business. Familiarity is not enough – PR puts your brand front of mind.

PR delivers brands with independent validation; you cannot put a value on third party endorsement in terms of credibility.

Why does your company need PR?

Your reputation is the sum of everything you say and everything you do, added to everything that is said or written about you – by anyone. Your reputation exists but it’s up to you whether you choose to nurture it or not. PR Companies help you manage your company’s reputation and build a positive relationship with your internal and external stakeholders.

You can find more definitions of PR below.

T

What services does a PR firm provide?

What does a PR company do?

Businesses can manage public relations in-house, but there are clear advantages to outsourcing your PR and many successful brands do.

PR consultancies use their media network and writing skills to build understanding and interest in your brand through storytelling and thought leadership.  Organisations that recognise their reputation has currency will proactively manage it.  They understand a positive perception will pay dividends in terms of goodwill, loyal customers, committed workforce etc.  Reputation management will be done through public relations initiatives designed to influence and persuade people on the merit of their brand. This is PR. This is what a PR company can do for you.

The Public Relations trade body, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations can provide you with further insight. 

What can a PR company help you achieve?

Boy dressed as pilot with wings

A good B2B PR agency will deliver commercial outcomes enabling your business growth to take off.

There are three main ways a PR company can help your business all of which underpin

  1. Visibility – a strong content and editorial plan will ensure that your brand is visible in the right media and can be easily found with high digital currency
  2. Value – by serving the most compelling messaging to the appropriate audiences your PR consultancy will help you to build familiarity and trust amongst your target audience
  3. Understanding – your PR company will show you how to present your brand message in a relevant and compelling way to stimulate demand.

Where does B2B PR fit in? B2B PR versus B2C PR

B2B PR is a specialism within PR which helps organisations to sell their products and services to other organisations, not the general public. Practitioners of B2B PR work with B2B marketers to manage their reputations to make their organisations visible, valued and understood.

B2C PR is the practice of managing the reputations of brands which sell their products and services to the general public. We’ve written more on the difference between B2B and B2C PR here.

What other PR specialisms are there?

There are a number of different specialties within the PR profession including B2B PR (business-to-business); corporate communications, consumer PR, public affairs & lobbying, financial PR, tech PR, analyst relations, social media and internal communications, to name a few.

ec-pr specialises in technology B2B PR and corporate communications. We are experienced in delivering public affairs projects and internal communications programmes, with a deep market knowledge of the technology sectors: cybersecurity, defence, science, energy, maritime, and transport.

People who work in B2B PR consultancies need to be able to understand the prevailing issues, empathise with the impact of those issues and communicate clearly and with commitment with interested parties, both verbally and in writing. 

What should you expect from your B2B Public Relations company?

  1. A clear plan: it’s important to know what your agency is doing to help you achieve your requirements. A clearly structured methodology which gets you from where you are now to where you want to go is essential to ensure time and money is not wasted.
  2. Proactive engagement: the success of the relationships will depend on your ability to flex together and respond promptly to opportunities.
  3. Ideation: your PR agency should have a proven approach for generating strategically aligned ideas for articles, campaigns and thought leadership. Creativity is at the heart of effective PR.
  4. Impeccable writing and communication skills: PR is all about managing perceptions to further your brand.
  5. Inquisitive and engaging attitude: your relationship will only succeed if there is mutual respect and enthusiasm for the personalities and tasks involved.

What services are in the B2B PR Toolkit?

The tools PR companies use to manage their reputations are extensive and include:

  1. Analyst relations
  2. Blogging
  3. Crisis Comms
  4. Infographics
  5. News releases
  6. Media relations
  7. Media training
  8. Press interviews & events
  9. Social engagement
  10. Thought Leadership
  11. White papers
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READ: How to choose your B2B PR Agency

What should your B2B PR company deliver and how do you know if it’s doing a good job?

  1. Process: Your PR agency should be regularly reporting and updating you on their achievements against the agreed PR objectives.
  2. Goals: Meeting and or exceeding the objectives set and highlighting key learnings or how to improve the campaign activities should be an ongoing B2B PR activity.
  3. Ideation: Your PR team will be habitually developing new ideas, themes, and initiatives to progress the brand awareness and achievements of your B2B PR goals.
  4. Starstruck: Delivering outstanding pieces of coverage in a pinnacle target publication at regular intervals will be something your PR counsel does consistently.
  5. Impact: quantity of coverage is not an indicator of effort or activity, but your B2B PR agency should be securing press coverage in target press regularly.
  6. Thought leadership: quality of coverage is as important as quantity, authored articles in pinnacle press is invaluable and something your PR advisors will be expert at achieving.
  7. Expert engagement: Your PR delivery team should be experienced and engaged so that you benefit from their wisdom and experience, not the other way round.
  8. Media network: your B2B PR agency should have a strong network and in depth knowledge of the way the media work in your sector and how to secure press coverage to be able to regularly design, pitch and secure placement on your behalf.
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Establish whether your PR agency is doing a good job with our 9-point check list

How can you tell if your PR partnership is on a road of continuous improvement or on a path of terminal decline?

Firstly, keep an eye on the deliverables you have agreed with your PR company (and the list above will help you to see if they are maintaining their interest in you as a B2B client over time). Then watch how your PR agency handles shortfalls.

Press coverage issues can be resolved with an engaged and well-led team, however indicators of a relationship in decline will revolve around passion and professionalism: they don’t appear to love you anymore and their behaviour shows it:

  1. Reporting becomes haphazard and inconsistent
  2. Ideas are uninspired and uninspiring
  3. Communication is infrequent and rarely proactive.

We always maintain that a failing PR Partnership is most often down to over-promising in the first place, and we have written this blog post to show how to revive struggling client relationships

How is PR different from Advertising?

The key difference between PR and advertising, whether B2B PR or B2C PR, is that advertising space is paid for while editorial space is not. While you pay for the PR Agency’s time, there is no guarantee that coverage will appear – it is down to the editor to decide whether the material is likely to add value to the media channel (magazine, programme or blog) or not.

On the flip side, readers will appreciate that editorial content may have a greater value having been vetted by a professional journalist, rather than a paid-for advertisement.

You can read about this in more detail in this blog, 7 ways PR differs from advertising

What are the benefits of outsourcing your PR?

To work out if your business would benefit from an outsourced PR partner we’ve listed several benefits below, and a useful blog: Nine Questions Every Marketing Manager Should Ask Before Hiring A PR Agency.

No recruitment fees – the PR team is already in place

Speed to excellence – no interviewing, inducting, learning the ropes

Value for money – access to a team of senior PR people that you couldn’t afford to employ on a full-time basis

24/7 availability – no holiday down time

Perspective – PR firms can see the wood from the trees and can provide impartial, objective advice

All the writing expertise plus implementation and delivery skills readily accessible

PR Agencies have an established and powerful network of press contacts which they can open up to you, why start the process from scratch

What other definitions of PR are there?

PR or Public Relations means different things to different people. You might find it interesting to consider these definitions of PR, from respected organisations and institutions:

1. PRCA – The PRCA is the world’s largest PR professional body:
“Public Relations, or ‘PR’, is all about the way organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves, and build a positive reputation and public image. The way an organisation is represented in the media has a huge impact on how people perceive it. PR professionals try to influence the media to represent their organisation positively and communicate key messages.”
https://www.prca.org.uk/careers/what-is-pr

2. BBC – The British public service broadcaster:
“Public Relations (PR) is a promotional technique used to gain media coverage. It is free and is generated through:

● Events
● Activities
● news-worthy stories”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zj4c7nb/revision/4

3. Hubspot – the inbound marketing platform:
“Public Relations professionals help a business or individual cultivate a positive reputation with the public through various unpaid or earned communications, including traditional media, social media and in-person engagements. They also help clients defend their reputation during a crisis that threatens their credibility.”
https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/public-relations-definition

4. Wikipedia – the online encyclopaedia:
“Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a non-profit organization) and the public.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_relations

5. CIPR – the Chartered Institute of Public Relations:
“Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
https://cipr.co.uk/

 

At EC-PR we are passionate about B2B communication. We believe your work is amazing and we want to help you tell the world how extraordinary it is.

Join our #B2BPR tribe:

If you’ve found this article valuable, you can get more useful insight here:

DownloadDownload our 2021 ultimate guide: How to write a press release that editors want to publish

CASE STUDY Check out this awesome Tech PR case study: How we raised news uptake for InsurTech firm, Concirrus, by 400%

ARTICLE Essential reading for our B2B businesses: How to write a PR brief

PR Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Your complete Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Including example PR campaigns, content calendar templates, and audit checklists.

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Your definitive media lens guide

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

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

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 during the sales pitch 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, for example tech PR, 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 PR 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, but COVID-19 has shown that it does still happen!); 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

At ec-pr we are passionate about b2b communication. We believe your work is amazing and we want to help you tell the world how extraordinary it is.

How to choose the right PR agency for your brand

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How Can A PR Campaign Help My Business?

How Can A PR Campaign Help My Business?

How Can A PR Campaign Help My Business?

From recruitment to raising brand awareness – a great PR campaign can help your business in many ways. In the B2B world, PR is a fundamental part of your overall marketing strategy and shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to allocating your budget.

Here are just some of the ways a PR campaign can be beneficial to your business.

Boosting Sales & Raising Brand Awareness With A PR Campaign

We get it; it can be hard deciding where to put your marketing spend when it comes to advertising your business, products, or services. Especially in the B2B sector where you are spoilt for choice when it comes to paid advertisement channels.

What method is going to be the most effective way to make your target audience aware of you and what you offer?

Well, a cost-effective way to achieve that is with a good PR campaign.

b2b pr campaign planning leads to business growth upwards arrow

A thoughtful PR campaign can attract new customers simply because your company is brought to their attention in a positive light. The fact that your brand is referenced in an editorial in a respected industry publication lends credibility to your company amongst your target audience. This is because subconsciously, the reader knows that editorial has been vetted and selected by an editor for inclusion in their publication.  Effectively, it has been given the Editor’s stamp of approval.  When your business is mentioned positively and catches people’s eye for the right reason, your credibility instantly rises.

Brand credibility can sometimes be the one deciding factor when customers choose who they want to buy from – this is especially true in niche sectors, where companies are providing similar products or services. When it comes down to making a final buying decision, the company with the most credible reputation is going to win hands down, every time.

After all – you wouldn’t be everywhere if you didn’t have a great company or service, right?

Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.

– Richard Branson.

So, in addition to boosting your reputation and attracting new clients, what else can a good PR campaign do for your business?

Other Ways PR Can Help Your Business

PR can positively affect areas of your business other than just your bottom line. Each PR campaign can be carefully tailored for a different outcome, but a general brand PR campaign can entice more than just customers.

For example, newish brands and start-ups can attract attention from potential investors by making their business appear larger than it is and the perception of uber relevance. You know what they say about faking it until you make it!  

More established businesses can also use PR strategically when they’re seeking new partnerships or considering selling.

b2b pr campaign planning leads to business growth upwards arrow

A PR campaign can also attract people to your business, not as customers but because they want to work for you. Although recruitment marketing is a separate area, general PR is also excellent for recruitment as more people are exposed to your brand, they get to know what you’re about and again, based on your credibility, will see you as a good employer.

This can be especially useful when you’re trying to recruit industry experts and specialists – being the most credible business in your sector will attract top-level talent.

Finally, another way a PR campaign can help your business is by helping repair your reputation.

Yes, we’re down to the topic not many businesses like to talk about or face but ignoring a reputational issue does not make it go away. Tackling a bad reputation can take time and you must be certain that the root issue has been resolved but a good PR campaign can go a long way towards making amends.

Getting Started With A PR Campaign

Now you’re familiar with some of the benefits a good PR campaign can have, are you ready to start? Your essential guide to executing a successful B2B PR campaign plan contains everything you need to get going.

At EC-PR we are passionate about B2B communication. We believe your work is amazing and we want to help you tell the world how extraordinary it is. Get in touch.

Join our #B2BPR tribe:

If you’ve found this article valuable, you can get more useful insight here:

Download our comprehensive guide: B2B PR Campaign Planning for all the templates, examples and tools mentioned in this article.

READ this Tech PR case study: How 2i found its voice – 18 Benefits from a communication strategy

watch our video: how to identify your target audience”

PR Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Your complete Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Including valuable example PR campaigns, templates and tools.

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