Usually, when a B2B tech company researches PR firms they read up on all the reasons for hiring one. But what if a startup, or even an established tech company, decides to forgo investing in PR altogether? What then?
Here are some of the opportunities you will miss by not engaging with an experienced B2B PR firm:
It may sound unimpressive, or even dull, but a PR firm will add an important dimension to your marketing team that you may lack — message discipline. What exactly does that mean? An experienced B2B PR firm will know what messages stand the best chance of piquing the interest of media, or what angle to take in order to get the most mileage in the media. During the run-up to a new product launch or new service offering, your marketing team should run its messages for upcoming campaigns against the PR firm in order to determine which narrative stands the best chance of winning media coverage. Better yet, include your PR firm in the cross-organizational launch campaign meetings to make sure they have a chance to influence the outcome before key stakeholders get too invested into one narrative.
For instance, one client came to us to help launch a cloud platform that it had been developing in bits and pieces to serve different client needs over time. The question was whether to announce it as a new platform and risk making existing customers think they were not a platform already (hence, sending a discordant message), versus making a major announcement for a first-of-its-kind cloud platform that we could turn it into a larger business tech story. Swyft opted for the latter approach given the greater media potential and adherence to our customer’s previously enunciated business strategy.
These are not easy questions to answer and they should be weighed with every possible outcome in mind. But at least having a PR firm at the table helps by addressing such important business goals as brand perception and demand generation.
PR drives demand
As hard as it is for B2B tech marketers to believe, PR plays a key role in driving demand for products and services. Traditional PR may have kept its distance from assisting with marketing outcomes like lead gen, but many of today’s B2B PR firms gladly accept the challenge of tying their work to measurable marketing outcomes (OKRs). For a deep dive on the topic, check out our post entitled 9 Ways Your PR Firm Can Help With Demand Generation.
From micro-targeted brand awareness campaigns geared toward niche media outlets and influencers to broad-based general business tech announcements, a well-executed PR campaign will generate buzz and click-throughs to a website or landing page that feature other offers (e.g., demo, eBook, case studies, etc.) designed to move a lead deeper into the sales funnel.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting a product marketing role for PR. But a really experienced B2B PR agencies, one with multi-tool professionals, can inject ideas that could help clarify the ultimate product design. PR firms have the advantage of bringing their experience and observations of other B2B tech companies as well as what trends are moving the media needle for an industry. It’s entirely possible that a PR firm may make a suggestion that can be accommodated during the idea generation phase, one that may prove valuable once the product is launched. It never hurts to get senior communications insight throughout the product development process. If you have your PR firm on retainer, then why not take advantage of their wisdom, creativity, and objectivity?
Search engine rankings
One of the by-products of working with a PR firm is the ability to augment your company’s SEO strategy. The value of backlinks from media outlets that cover your industry is like gold. Most reputable media outlets score high for domain power, consistent quality content, brand power, and lots of backlinks of their own. The more your media coverage, the better your chances of getting higher rankings for key SERPs (search engine results pages).
Your PR firm can and should play a role in your SEO strategy. So why not invite them to those meetings to discuss how future press announcements can make an even larger contribution? Map out your keywords to identify how to work them into your future press releases and contributed content pieces (articles ghostwritten on behalf of company executives and submitted to contributor networks like the Forbes Tech Council).
Over the long term, PR will add more lift to your company’s rankings on SERPs, domain power, and brand influence.
A PR firm can help a B2B tech company appear even more credible in the eyes of target prospects. How? Past studies, including one study by Olgivly, point out that the credibility of a brand increases when it’s covered in the news media. In an era where nearly 60% of Americans distrust online ads and are more than a little wary of fake news, B2B tech companies that obtain favorable coverage in reputable news outlets stand to grow their brand credibility much faster than they would if they flooded social media with owned content and sales pitches.
It stands to reason that if a B2B tech PR firm is able to improve key business goals like search engine rankings, demand generation strategy, and brand credibility, then a company will convert more visitors into leads. For this to work, of course, your website must be ready to handle the inbound traffic. Effective call-to-actions, intuitive page layouts, and fast website load-times will ensure that the website is optimized for better user experience and more qualified leads.
One of the best ways to cement your company’s dominance is to dominate in the marketplace of ideas. A PR firm can connect your key staff (executive, senior leadership, subject matter experts) to speaking and panel opportunities at influential conferences and trade shows in order to raise not only their profiles but that of your company. Similarly, contributed content pieces ghostwritten on behalf of your key staff can net your company an even wider audience, resulting in more social shares, inbound traffic, and brand awareness.