Communication Strategy

Successful PR requires a well-formed, clear Communication Strategy.

We at ec-pr believe in an integrated approach to PR, which goes hand-in-hand with the full range of marketing activities. In order to make this a success, your organisation needs a communication strategy that provides clarity of approach.

Indeed your comms strategy will become the backbone to inform and guide all marketing communications moving forward, including the Public Relations activity.

If your organisation’s marketing is operating on a tactical level instead of a strategic one, ec-pr can help your marketing team regain control of your brand and marketing strategy.


B2B PR – On being a thought leader

B2B PR – On being a thought leader

B2B PR – On being a thought leader

Insight 2020 identified that thought leadership is a key priority for marketers, it also appears to be a bit of a sweetheart subject in the marketing press right now so I thought it would be useful to provide some insight into the ‘how’ and ‘who’ of great thought leadership.

 

Over the years, we have written hundreds of pieces of ‘thought leadership’ on behalf of clients. Every article we craft is written from interview with a subject matter expert and we follow a process to ensure it’s interesting, relevant and strategically aligned.

The angle for each article is developed with one eye on the communication strategy, with a target persona in mind. If you speak clearly and concisely to a single persona, you are infinitely more interesting than if you speak more generically in the hope of catching the attention of everyone.The angle will often be refined and promised to an editor on an exclusive basis before the full article is written. Our client’s time is valuable and, we don’t want to be producing a piece of thought leadership which only appears on our client’s website or LinkedIn feed.

A focussed, recorded interview with the subject matter expert provides us with the source material which we then craft into an article which meets the requirements of the business, the editor and the reader. [Occasionally, the editor chooses to take the source material and draft the article themselves].

The success of the article will depend on the subject matter expert; the best articles will invariably be from engaged leaders – business leaders or field leaders – who display the following attributes:
  1. They don’t care about being a thought leader, but they care deeply about their subject, vision or mission.
  2. Their knowledge is profound. They take every opportunity to learn about every evolution or development which may impact their passion. Their capacity for assimilating new information is enormous. They are great thinkers.
  3. They can clearly articulate why any aspect of their topic is important – building out its commercial, social, political or environmental relevance where appropriate. Never boring or boorish, they are always interesting and engaging when talking about their subject.
  4. Great thought leaders are willing and able to pitch their communication at the right level for their audience. They are passionate and persuasive to the point of evangelism. They are constantly engaged in their topic.
  5. As with all successful story tellers, great thought leaders have logical, yet creative minds and they enjoy sharing their opinion and ideas. As a result, they are prolific writers, speakers and communicators.

EC-PR How To Become A Thought Leader

Next step

To find out more download our White Paper ‘How to be a thought Leader’.

#leadership #b2bpr #CommunicationStrategy #B2Bmarketing #MarketingCommunication #Insight2020 #thoughtleadership

 

Insights 2020: A Spotlight on B2B Communication for CMOs

Insights 2020: A Spotlight on B2B Communication for CMOs

Insights 2020: A Spotlight on B2B Communication for CMOs

The turn of the decade marks a pivotal moment for Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). According to Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020, marketing budgets are in decline, but the ongoing mandate to drive growth and innovation is putting pressure on marketers to place their strategic bets wisely.

Insights 2020, a report by ec-pr, is now available. Download your full copy of the free report and see for yourself what the challenges are that marketers must overcome.

Essential intelligence for marketers

Shining a light on B2B communication for CMO’s, the Insight 2020 survey researched their priorities and challenges for 2020, and explored their strategic approach to communications, as well as the extent to which communication strategies are implemented to drive business outcomes.

Report highlights

Insight 2020:
B2B Communications at the turn of the decade – The results

A spotlight on the report’s findings.

Insight 2020:
B2B Communications at the turn of the decade – The results

A spotlight on the report’s findings.

What is a communication strategy? how does it help marketers reach business objectives?

Watch our video below to learn more.

What is a communication strategy? how does it help marketers reach business objectives?

Watch our video below to learn more.

The Insight 2020 Infographic

What keeps marketers awake at night and other challenges…

Concirrus – Quest For Success Case Study

Concirrus – Quest For Success Case Study

CONCIRRUS – Quest for Success

B2B PR Case Study – Insurtech

“This time last year we were seen as an industry outsider – the increase in brand awareness has now firmly positioned us as part of the insurance community, helping to drive change.”

Andrew Yeoman

CEO, Concirrus

Quest for Success
Year 1

the messaging lab icon

Messaging Lab

Persona & Messaging
Development

Workshops

Communication strategy

Personas

Messaging validation interviews

 

The forge icon

The Forge

Campaign Planning

1 Messaging matrix

1 Brilliant ideas bank

 

The Beehive icon

Beehive

PR Delivery

1 Exhibition publicity package

60 Journalists briefed

7 Press releases

10 Interviews

6 Thought leadership articles

 

the messaging lab icon

Messaging Lab

Persona & Messaging
Development

Workshops

Communication strategy

Personas

Messaging validation interviews

 

The forge icon

The Forge

Campaign Planning

1 Messaging matrix

1 Brilliant ideas bank

 

The Beehive icon

Beehive

PR Delivery

1 Exhibition publicity package

60 Journalists briefed

7 Press releases

10 Interviews

6 Thought leadership articles

 

Impact to date

118

pieces of
coverage

196.3m

impact
score

400%

increase in
news uptake

60%

coverage in
publications
with a DA
of 40+

the messaging lab icon

Messaging Lab

Persona & Messaging
Development

Workshops

Communication strategy

Personas

Messaging validation interviews

 

The forge icon

The Forge

Campaign Planning

1 Messaging matrix

1 Brilliant ideas bank

 

The Beehive icon

Beehive

PR Delivery

1 Exhibition publicity package

60 Journalists briefed

7 Press releases

10 Interviews

6 Thought leadership articles

 

Impact to date

118

pieces of
coverage

196.3m

impact
score

400%

increase in
news uptake

60%

coverage in
publications
with a DA
of 40+

BACKGROUND

Concirrus is the creator of Quest, an innovative data and analytics platform that is changing the way the global insurance industry manages risk. Its Marketing Director, Caroline Hurst, was tasked with establishing the brand, as well as scaling her department to enable and support an aggressive, international growth plan.

Challenge

The challenge was three-fold.

1 Although extremely effective, the working practices within the insurance industry are no longer efficient in today’s digital world. Engaging and collaborating with decision makers to help them understand the value digital technologies could deliver was critical.

2 The speed at which the business was evolving meant that any external support Caroline invested in had to be responsive, knowledgeable and efficient.

3 With one main competitor appearing to offer a similar capability within the marine sector, identifying and demonstrating Concirrus’ unique differences were essential.

Challenge

The challenge was three-fold.

1 Although extremely effective, the working practices within the insurance industry are no longer efficient in today’s digital world. Engaging and collaborating with decision makers to help them understand the value digital technologies could deliver was critical.

2 The speed at which the business was evolving meant that any external support Caroline invested in had to be responsive, knowledgeable and efficient.

3 With one main competitor appearing to offer a similar capability within the marine sector, identifying and demonstrating Concirrus’ unique differences were essential.

OUTCOME

Caroline Hurst comments: “As a business, we better understand who we are targeting and how to engage them more effectively. It’s no longer based on intuitive engagement – we’ve captured the essence of what we need to say and who we need to say it to, so that everyone can play a role – the impact of this is that our extraordinary growth has been enabled in a more coherent way. The communication strategy has provided us with those invaluable marginal gains and the customer validation carried out by EC-PR was the most valuable piece of work we did this year.

Next year we are focussed on expansion with ambitious plans afoot. We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with both Lorraine and Liz at EC-PR to see just what they are capable of.”

Concirrus Andrew Yeoman LinkedIn Post

“The PR outreach has been exceptional and has delivered everything we’ve asked of it. The Concirrus voice leads the media we have targeted; our authority is now established in maritime and our share of voice is in the ascendancy. A year into the campaign and EC-PR has secured 118 pieces of coverage in our target media with more than half of those with a Domain Authority of 40+. We have also seen noticeable peaks in website traffic directly related to the PR activity.”
Caroline Hurst

Marketing Director, Concirrus

More Case Studies

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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.

 

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!

 

B2B PR – Five steps to an effective B2B communication strategy

B2B PR – Five steps to an effective B2B communication strategy

B2B PR – Five steps to an effective B2B communication strategy

An effective B2B communication strategy will focus your marketing and PR efforts in order to target your client niche and meet your business objectives. It is a powerful tool that will help you develop very effective messaging. Here are five simple steps to get you started.

 

1. What success will look like

My starting point is always to determine what success will look like, in terms of what do we want marketing to deliver in order to enable the company to achieve its strategic goal(s)? Whatever the desired outcome is, it must be measurable.

There should be a communication objective against each business objective such as: To generate #X qualified leads for bespoke vessel design from shipyards servicing the renewables industry.

 

2. Whose attention do we want to grab?

Knowing what we want to achieve then leads us to the next quantifiable question: whose attention do we want to grab? We need to be as specific as possible and I would suggest that the starting point for this would be your existing database.

Identify who you currently sell to in this industry and use this as a signpost for whom to target moving forward. For example: We want to target and engage Technical Designers and Vessel Designers employed by Shipyards (anywhere in the world).

 

3. What can we say that is arresting?

Following on, we need to say something to make our audience stop and think. We want to say it in an intelligent and authoritative way that challenges their assumptions or inspires their imagination. (Remember: People buy why you do something, not what you do. They engage with your passion**).

This is where we, as a B2B PR agency, play a role expending creative energy to communicate in a way that provokes the reaction that you want.

 

4. What do we want them to do?

Now that we have their attention, what do we want them to do? The call to action is what enables us to measure how successful the marketing communication has been. It needs to be realistic and achievable.

It can also provide a clear hand-over point between marketing and business development, such as: We want them to give us their contact details and indicate their area of interest (and possibly what stage of the buying cycle they are in).

Be realistic, business people will not place an order for many hundreds of thousands of pounds off the back of a piece of marketing communication. However, they will express interest by following a link or subscribing to a newsletter, or requesting a download. Once this is received, it’s at this point that your business development people should step in and take over the lead while your marketing communication continues to work in the background.

Your marketing team should also be aware of the technical tools available to help you track engagement from your B2B communications. For example, make sure that you measure clicks on online links. If you are putting a post onto LinkedIn or sending an email to your prospects, then track the URLs with a campaign name, medium and source. If you use Google Analytics, you can generate a tracking code using their Campaign URL builder here. This all helps give a fuller picture of the impact and effectiveness of your B2B communications and where there might be weaknesses to address.

 

5. Relevance and cost-efficiency

The choice of marketing vehicles then comes down to relevance and cost-efficiency, i.e. how do we get our message to your target audience in the most cost efficient way?

Because your strategy will be well-planned and measurable, you can then test different media and messages to see which gain the most traction, thereby increasing cost-efficiency over time.

When a company is tackling multiple markets there will be a range of vehicles being deployed with some overlap. The important thing is for everyone in your team to be clear about your desired outcome for each given capability and market.

The golden rule

Essentially the better you design and execute, the better the outcome – for those engineers** in the audience: does this sound familiar?

Next Steps

You can read more about our approach to Communication Strategy Development in our blog post: Why your b2b tech business needs a communication strategy here:

Why your B2B Tech Business Needs A Communication Strategy

 

The Messaging Lab

the messaging lab iconAt ec-pr we have a three-phased approach to B2B PR, starting with The Messaging Lab – Communication Strategy Development. This will give you the best start to an integrated communications campaign. Contact us if you would like us to help you prepare an effective communication strategy for 2019. See our case study for Lloyds Maritime Academy demonstrating the power of a Communication Strategy here.

** We are passionate about helping B2B Technology Businesses and their people to communicate more effectively with customers, colleagues and the media because we believe you are a remarkable group of people who make the world a better place and often don’t get the credit you deserve.