Messaging development


The role of personas in your B2B PR strategy

The role of personas in your B2B PR strategy

The role of personas in your B2B PR strategy

Personas – an essential element of impactful communications

Effective communication is based on an in-depth understanding of your customer base. You need to know who your customers are and which channels they use to stay informed. You need to uncover their fears, pain points and ambitions in order to engage with them successfully.

To facilitate a better understanding of your customers, we create audience profiles or ‘buyer personas’. These are fictional representations of your customers that help visualise their needs, habits and objectives.

buyer personas are fictional representations of your buyers

We ask your potential buyers some of the following key questions:

  • What is your job title and key responsibilities?
  • Where do you go for professional insight? (i.e. LinkedIn, trade media etc)
  • What are your concerns? What keeps you awake at night?
  • What are the key capabilities or expertise you are looking for in a supplier/service?

This information informs the development of typical personas, that may look like this:

Persona illustration

Do I really need personas?

You really do. Without personas, your communication will be impersonal, completely untargeted and therefore ineffective. Personas guide the development of your key messages. They ensure you are targeting the right people with messages that are compelling and tailored to the specific stage of the buying cycle they’re currently at. They reduce waste and promote marketing/sales collaboration.

Personas are integral to campaign planning as they ensure that at every stage of the journey, customers receive an appropriate type of message that nudges them to the next stage of the buying process.

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Find out more about Personas in our guide: Your 8-step communication strategy

Flexibility and longevity

Personas should be a living and breathing concept, not a document to be produced and filed away. Individual personas should be updated over time, or new personas created, in line with your evolving business strategy and changing market dynamics.

Personas are essential to strategic B2B PR

In our experience, it is particularly important that personas, along with key messages, are socialised within the company to ensure that your marketing, sales and customer service teams internalise them and refer to them to guide their content and messages on a day-to-day basis.

The outcome

On a strategic level, personas are an important tool to ensure your communication is targeted and relevant to your key target audiences. Personas also help align your communication efforts with sales by tailoring messaging to specific stages of the buying process.

On a more tactical level, personas support your campaign planning by helping determine what type of message, content and format should be served throughout the customer journey to achieve maximum commercial results.

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Download our essential guide: B2B PR Campaign Planning

READ this article: Communication without purpose is just noise

watch our video: how to identify your target audience”

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.
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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The ultimate guide to writing a B2B press release

Our expert B2B PR guide with 9 steps to creating a press release that editors want to publish.

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The vital role of PR in Sales

The vital role of PR in Sales

The vital role of PR in Sales

Let’s examine the role of PR in Sales

A well-executed PR campaign plays into all stages of your customer’s journey—putting more leads in your pipeline, nurturing your prospects as they move down through the funnel, and building enough trust to seal the deal.

In this way, PR campaigns can help your salespeople to convert more leads into prospects and more prospects into conversions, therefore boosting the bottom line – just like advertising, direct outreach, and other marketing campaigns that are often more directly linked to conversions.

PR broadens your reach

There’s no doubt about it; the brand awareness buzz that good PR creates can help you capture more leads.

Carefully selected placements and media mentions ignite conversations that help boost your presence in the real world. These help create high-value backlinks and referral traffic, to improve your rankings in the search results – putting your brand firmly on the map.

This boosted presence in the marketplace, ultimately translates to more leads entering the top of your sales funnel—and not just any leads, but leads that are well-acquainted with your brand, and already have a level of familiarity with your product or service.

celebrating the brand awareness buzz from good PR

PR helps position your brand

A well-executed PR campaign can attract more ideal prospects by perfectly positioning your brand in the marketplace.

Whatever the qualities that make up your brand identity—from the cool sophistication of Apple, to the visionary courage of Tesla—a good PR campaign can showcase those qualities, demonstrating to your target audience that your product or service has the characteristics needed to solve their specific problem.

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An 8-step communication strategy to help you win new business

PR shapes your brand story

Among other media strategies, placements in carefully selected publications can evoke these qualities by creating a strong narrative. The power of stories was illustrated in an experiment by Stanford professor Chip Heath, who asked students to give one minute speeches containing three statistics and one story. Afterwards, only five percent of listeners recalled the statistics, while more than sixty percent remembered the stories.

Whether your story is one celebrating your achievements—commercial or otherwise—or promoting your culture and purpose, narratives can hit emotions that resonate amidst endless noise. The strength of this emotional association is what helps you remain top of mind, on their consideration list, and build a reputation that keeps your customers coming back to your brand, instead of your competitors.

In this way, exposure in the right places doesn’t just draw more leads into the top of your funnel, but they trickle down through the sales process, ensuring prospects are receptive to your brand, and likely to trust you enough to feel good about working with you, as opposed to your competitor.

effective PR helps build trust

PR builds trust

Trust in institutions—including businesses, government, and the media—is at a low ebb, according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer. This erosion of trust is particularly noticeable in the tech industry, where the pace of change has become so fast that many feel left behind—waiting for their jobs to be replaced by automated bots or AI.

PR can help overcome this lack of trust

by creating a strong relationship with customers through what infamous Psychology and Marketing professor Robert Cialdini calls pre-suasion:

“The process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it. Strategically guiding preliminary attention, to move prospects into an agreement with the marketing message before they ever experience it.”

While B2B PR blogs can help to establish authority, and paid placements in established publications can demonstrate your credibility, appearing in the editorial section of a magazine or newspaper is the gold standard for building trust. Because these articles have been independently endorsed by a trusted third party, their credibility runs deeper than blogs, paid placements or advertisements, helping you to build a great brand reputation and win real lasting trust with your audience.

PR helps overcome customer objections

At the end of a customer’s journey, unforeseen objections can suddenly arise that are guaranteed to make a new salesperson sweat. A robust, strategically planned PR campaign can anticipate and address these customer objections before they are presented—making the life of a salesman a little easier.

According to research from DemandGen, 41 percent of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before even engaging with a salesperson.

Content published on your owned channels, such as social media and website can help overcome common sales objections, including hesitancy over pricing and misunderstanding of benefits.

More effective however, is third-party content.

A study conducted by Nielsen in 2014 revealed that third-party “expert content ” was even more effective at lifting purchase considerations than user reviews, with PR boosting familiarity significantly more than branded content.

“On average, expert content lifted familiarity 88 percent more than branded content and 50 percent more than user reviews; they lifted affinity 50 percent more than branded content and 20 percent more than user reviews.”

By tying this type of content into your sales process, through links in emails or social media, the strength of ‘expert content’ can be fully capitalised on, to help avoid last-minute complications, overcome objections, and reinforce the customer’s buying decision.

So, to summarise; from bringing more primed leads into the top of the funnel, to building trust and overcoming sales objections, a solid PR strategy and campaign plan can make life easier for your sales teams, directly boosting your bottom line and having a positive impact on your brand reputation.

Join our #B2BPR tribe:

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

Download our ultimate guide: Your 8-step communication strategy

READ this related post: B2B Content and B2B PR…and why you need a strategy for both

look at this infographic: 18 Business Benefits of a Communication Strategy

PR in Sales: We have won new business because of our communication strategy
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How much does PR cost?

Our transparent guide to B2B PR pricing for tech brands.

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The ultimate guide to writing a B2B press release

Our expert B2B PR guide with 9 steps to creating a press release that editors want to publish.

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10 Business Benefits of B2B PR

10 Business Benefits of B2B PR

10 Business Benefits of B2B PR

One of the key questions we often hear is along the lines of “Why do I need to do PR?” or “What will PR do for my business?” and the reality is that there are so many benefits of PR, the list is endless, but we want to focus on the main PR benefits and so we’ve highlighted the top 10 reasons your brand should have a PR strategy.

Depending on what stage of maturity your company has reached, you’ll have different business challenges, priorities, and drivers.  PR can be used to help you address a wide range of specific business  and marketing objectives.

Always aligned to your company’s vision, mission and goals, PR is ever present and supremely agile.

Here are our 10 key reasons why your company should do PR as part of your comms plan.

10 reasons your needs PR infographic

How your business will benefit from PR

Enhanced lead generation:

PR complements your marketing initiatives by showcasing your successes in editorial case studies. It keeps you visible as prospects move through the buying cycle and into the sales funnel. And, PR provides the added benefit of providing independent third-party endorsement.

Improved stakeholder insight:

The process of developing your communication strategy and PR outreach brings you closer to your customers.  Engaging with customers to understand their buying methodology and rationale to develop articles provides valuable, actionable insight into customer behaviour.

Compelling messaging:

Effective PR requires relevant messaging at each stage of the buying cycle.  The strength of the messaging is evaluated against the quality of the supporting evidence and relevance to your target audience.

Re-energised staff:

Targeted PR which is integrated with change programmes can mobilise workforces by giving them a sense of purpose, community, and boost in morale.

"We are clearly differentiated, more engaged and showing the best version of ourselves to the world"

Clarity of purpose:

In order to be effective, PR needs clearly defined SMART goals.  The process of developing and executing these goals results in clarity of vision, purpose, and communications.

Invigorated sales team:

B2B PR will help build the morale of sales teams.  Seeing your brand receiving recognition in the media through press coverage for new business wins etc., instils pride and purpose.

Crisis mitigation:

A strong brand promotes loyalty which can help a brand survive a challenging trading environment. Crisis planning conducted during ‘business as usual’, will help you to identify potential areas of weakness which you can redress before any crisis hits. 

pr benefits working at home
Thought Leadership:

Every business has something unique about it or it would never have been brought into existence.  Someone somewhere thought there was a gap in the market your company could fill. PR will help you harness your thought leadership with insight that informs, inspires, challenges, and engages your target audience.

Brand Awareness:

PR builds a compelling relationship between your brand and your target audience – before your audience even enters the buying cycle. The key principles of any good PR strategy are to make you visible, valued and understood; delivered as part of a comprehensive communication strategy to drive consistency and impact. The outcome of which will provide you with a densely populated top of funnel.

Increased Impact:

By integrating your PR across all your marketing communications, you leverage your investment and increase impact. Every message delivered becomes a building block, creating layer upon layer of customer engagement, making the whole worth much more than the sum of its parts, in one cohesive, compelling brand.

So, we can see that there are many powerful and persuasive reasons to do PR –  especially when you consider that whether you choose to act or not, your reputation still exists out there in the market. Your job is to decide if you want to manage and cultivate your reputation, or leave it to chance.

So, when you ask yourself: ‘why do I need PR’ or ‘Is PR important’ follow it up with the question: ‘Does my company reputation matter?’. Your answer will tell you all you need to know.

Join our #B2BPR tribe:

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

Download our guide Your 8-Step Communication Strategy

READ this awesome Tech PR case study: 2i Testing

read our guide How we guarantee your PR results

to receive regular insights on how to make your PR work harder.

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.
10 reasons your brand needs PR
the ultimate guideto writing a press release front cover

The ultimate guide to writing a B2B press release

Our expert B2B PR guide with 9 steps to creating a press release that editors want to publish.

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Our transparent guide to B2B PR pricing for tech brands.

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Your 9-point plan for writing the perfect PR brief

Your 9-point plan for writing the perfect PR brief

Your 9-point plan for writing the perfect PR brief

No matter what market you occupy, if you’re looking to reap the benefits that a PR agency can provide, you must first establish what you want to achieve, how you will measure success, who your audience is and what needs to be said in order to achieve your outcome.

By preparing a PR brief, PR agencies can fully understand your thinking and be specific in their responses.

There are many ways to write a PR brief – below are the fundamentals that you need to include.  Whether that B2C or B2B – the principles are the same. ​

1. Context:

Where did this project come from? What challenge or change within the business has led you to look for external help? What is the driving force behind the desire for a step-change?

2. PR objectives:

What is the purpose of the engagement? Create precise objectives that are measurable and realistic.  The process of documenting your objectives will help you rationalise and fine tune them – something the agency will also do so, between you, a set of KPIs can be developed and agreed.

9 points to improve your PR brief

3. Target audiences:

Who do you want to communicate with? Outline who is important to you and your business; provide as much detail as you can about your key influencers and decision makers; share your stakeholder research – the tender process should not be a guessing game but the opportunity for you to access ‘best-in-class thinking’ to address your challenges.

4. Communication channels:

Indicate how you’ve delivered your communication in the past and to what degree; if there is a business driver for a channel, be explicit and explain why. For example, ‘Our CEO wants to build his profile and is aware that a competitor is all over X podcast(s).’

5. Messages:

What are you trying to say? Do you have a communication strategy?  If not, what elements do you have and what needs to be developed? Share any research that you have regarding message validation.

6. Potential challenges:

Think about the problems you may have to address; this may include internal resistance to, or unfamiliarity with PR; this will help shape the response and manage expectations.

7. Timescale:

Consider questions such as: When do you want your PR activity to start, and what are you hoping for in terms of reporting timeframes and contract duration?

8. Let’s talk money:

Specify how much money you are willing to spend because this will influence the type and range of activity you can afford.  If in doubt use our PR Packages document which tells you more about what PR costs.

9. Evaluation:

Reflecting on point #2 above, think about how performance will be measured; do you have a business requirement for a specific type of evaluation methodology or any preference for a particular platform?

Briefing your PR agency properly will save you time and money in the medium and long term. Your time and effort are indicators that you’re taking PR seriously and giving it the respect it deserves.

A detailed PR brief will prevent misunderstandings and costly off-strategy mistakes and will enable your PR agency to get up to speed quickly and start delivering meaningful media engagement at pace – protecting and nurturing your reputation across your target audiences.

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 guide: How much does PR cost?

READ this awesome Tech PR case study: SELIS – creating a compelling narrative

look at this Infographic: “10 Rules to Interview like a Pro

to receive regular insights on how to make your PR work harder.

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.

EC-PR Packages - B2B PR Pricing Guide - front cover

How much does PR cost?

Our transparent guide to B2B PR pricing for tech brands.

Download

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How we guarantee your PR results

Turbo boost your PR today and expand your ability to reach business goals.

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How to build compelling B2B brand messaging (part two of two)

How to build compelling B2B brand messaging (part two of two)

How to build compelling B2B brand messaging (part two of two)

In Part One, I talked about the first two stages of the messaging roadmap, ‘awareness’ and ‘interest’ and proposed tools for delivering tailored messages, as part of a communication strategy. In this article, I complete the loop by addressing the remaining two phases, ‘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.

The Messaging Cycle of awareness, interest, preference and decision / action

Preference

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 target audience, how your offering is the most desirable 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. 

Tools to deliver your Reinforcement messaging

The preference messaging will be delivered through your website, specification sheets, tailored presentations, and tender documentation.  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 prospects.

Remember, this is about how you measure up, as a perfect match to your customer’s needs, to be at the top of any tender list.

Action

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’ve 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’re addressing.

Tools to deliver your Value messaging

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.

Buying Cycle & Messaging Phases - Preference Action

Note that 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.

Click here to see part one of two

Join our #B2BPR tribe:

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Download How we guarantee your PR Results 

Read Read this B2B PR Brand Messaging case study: Concirrus

Watch Watch: Why your business needs a communication strategy

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.

Your Ultimate Guide to Crisis PR Management

The Ultimate Guide to Crisis PR

Unforeseen circumstances have hit us all in 2020. Our guide shows you how to manage your PR in a crisis.

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How to build compelling B2B brand messaging (part one of two)

How to build compelling B2B brand messaging (part one of two)

How to build compelling B2B brand messaging (part one of two)

The buying cycle and your messaging

As part of a communication strategy, there are four stages through which a connection must move to successfully form an enduring commercial relationship.  These phases are awareness, interest, preference, and action.  And, your messaging at each stage of the relationship must evolve to reflect the needs and desires of your target audience to keep your brand relevant and compelling.

The Messaging Cycle of awareness, interest, preference and decision / action

Awareness

At this stage, your target audience is becoming aware they have an issue and your objective is to get them to see you as someone who has an in depth understanding of their sector challenges, through your engagement message. This is not about flogging a solution or your brand but positioning yourself as an expert they can trust.

To achieve this, your brand, senior executives, and subject matter experts, need to be visible and proactive.  They can do this by expressing opinion within LinkedIn posts, sharing relevant insights, authoring thought leadership in the media, presenting at key events, and addressing the issues that matter to the target audience with whom they seek to work.  Remember, people buy from people.

How to deliver your engagement messaging

The key B2B PR tools you can use include: your website, Insights/white papers, event sponsorship, speaking opportunities, LinkedIn engagement and news management. Your brand needs to be active and relevant.  ‘Everywhere’ your target persona ‘goes’ – your brand needs to be visible.

Interest

During this phase, your target audience is starting to formulate possible solutions to their issue. This is where you help your target audience to better understand the specific nature of their challenges and begin to formulate the ideal solution – still curbing your desire to reveal your self-interest.  Your challenge is to build trust by advising and guiding them a myriad of possible options and highlighting the pros and cons of each, maintaining an independent stance, while steering them towards your solution as the ideal fit.

How to deliver your solution messaging

This is where thought leadership articles can be invaluable, as well as independent round tables, white papers, issue-led podcasts and social videos, and objective explainers with strong visual prompts.

Your need to use your B2B PR to make your target audience feel that by listening to you, they are better equipped to deal with their challenges. They trust you and value your counsel.

Throughout both 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.

Buying Cycle & Messaging Phases - Awareness Interest

Click here to see part two, where we suggest how to leverage the next stages of the comms journey; preference and action.

Join our #B2BPR tribe:

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

Download How to Become a Thought Leader 

Read Read this awesome B2B PR case study: Lloyds Maritime Academy

Watch Learn: Why your business needs a communication strategy

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.

Your Ultimate Guide to Crisis PR Management

The Ultimate Guide to Crisis PR

Unforeseen circumstances have hit us all in 2020. Our guide shows you how to manage your PR in a crisis.

Download

Subscribe to our updates

Stay up to date with the latest insights, case studies, and PR guides.

EC-PR How We Guarantee Your PR Results Brochure Cover

How we guarantee your PR results

Turbo boost your PR today and expand your ability to reach business goals.

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Our insights