Why PR Is the Missing Link in B2B Lead Gen Strategies

Instead of incorporating public relations as part of a larger Marketing strategy, B2B companies too often over-rely on media placements, hoping that prospects read these articles and call the company. This philosophy is costing you leads.

Consider the following: A SaaS-based CRM platform looking to reach CTOs at Fortune 500 companies is featured in an article that is published on the Wall Street Journal’s website. Amazing, right? But what did it actually accomplish?

  • Prospect #1:  On vacation that day.
  • Prospect #2:  Presenting the development roadmap to their board.
  • Prospect #3: On WSJ.com that day but missed the story because it was buried underneath other headlines an hour after it was published.

In other words, even a Wall Street Journal feature story isn’t going to reach its full value by itself. Below we’re going to debunk common myths associated with B2B PR in order to set expectations for what PR can do for your lead gen, followed by practical steps you can put into action.

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PR/Comms Is Independent of Marketing

A lot of companies operate as if public relations and communications are separate from the Marketing team as if PR has its own strategy. They assume PR’s success is solely based on securing media placements, which are typically driven by the topics that interest reporters. The logical conclusion within this worldview, then, is that PR cannot assist in lead nurture and lead generation, but that’s not true.

Not only is PR an important part of Marketing that should work in tandem with other Marketing tactics, but it can also be quite effective at generating leads. This can only be achieved, however, if PR is treated as more than the media placement engine that many others think it is.

To be clear, this is not to say that media placements aren’t the most important goal of a public relations plan, but when judging the success of a PR campaign, a B2B CMO should take into consideration whether those placements included the narrative of the company’s broader Marketing plan. This is also essential in developing a consistent story throughout the buyer’s journey.

PR Is Voodoo

In general, public relations can often be misunderstood, especially in light of the industry’s representation in pop culture. In B2B especially, PR is not a magical combination of art, science and “who you know” that is intangible, hard to quantify, and largely dependent on the whims of the topics reporters want to cover at the moment. It’s not a passive, reactive Marketing activity in which you sometimes “get lucky.”

Rather, it should be a pillar of your Marketing campaign in which you are in control of the narrative being told about your company through a strategic combination of proactive media relations, thought leadership content development, social media, email campaigns, etc. It’s not as much about waiting for the right opportunity to find you and much more about creating that opportunity for yourself.

Who are your prospects? What are their personas? Where are they, both in the real world and online? What messages resonate with them? Armed with this information (and more) it becomes much easier to reverse-engineer your PR strategy to reach exactly the people you want to reach.

PR Is Only “Earned” 

Calling and emailing reporters is simply media relations. While that is certainly an important aspect of public relations, media relations is still just one tactic. A comprehensive PR strategy encompasses analyst relations, thought leadership, bylined articles, sponsored content and often touches essentially all the channels that connect a business to prospects, buyers, and customers.

In today’s media landscape, PR needs to include earned, owned and paid tactics that bleed into and overlap with one another. Once viewed holistically, B2B CMOs can begin to activate all Marketing avenues available to them via PR.

Reimagine PR’s Function Within Lead Gen  

With all that in mind, B2B CMOs should reexamine how PR is functioning within their organization and overall marketing plan. Just like Marketing shouldn’t be relegated to an afterthought that is bolted on once other business units have been incorporated into a business plan, PR shouldn’t be slapped on once a Marketing plan is already in place.

If a company’s PR strategy is built into the larger Marketing plan, it will have a greater role in supporting lead gen activities, and help companies enhance the B2B buyer journey.

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