Average companies delegate things such as media relations, social media, content creation and email marketing responsibilities to their PR firm. Smart companies engage their PR firm in collaboration on the goals and strategies behind these tactics. A truly enlightened company uses its PR firm to perform the research and analysis that drives goals and strategy.
We have seen time and time again how the deliverables that bring our clients the most value are ones they rarely think to ask for. When we have the opportunity to do foundational research and analysis for our clients, it increases the effectiveness of all subsequent PR and marketing activities. The right kind of research and analysis lays the necessary foundation for executing successful PR campaigns. It is also work that is best done externally by those with an outside and unbiased perspective.
Here are three ways you should leverage your PR firm to supercharge your marketing results.
Research digs deep to understand your buyers, industry, company, and competitors. There are three kinds of research we recommend when kicking off a new client relationship:
• Competitive analysis: Most of our clients understand who their main competitors are, as well as their market position relative to those companies. What they don’t often have a clear view of is how they compare to their competitors in terms of marketing effectiveness, brand presence, and message resonance. As marketing experts, we analyze who is doing what well and where opportunities exist for our clients to exploit the gaps in their competitors’ marketing and break through the noise.
• Buyer personas: We are big believers in the value and enlightenment that comes from developing buyer personas based on buyer research. We recommend conducting Zoom interviews with buyers shortly after the purchase decision—whether or not they ended up choosing your brand. We’ve found that interviewing both wins and losses (pulled from our clients’ CRMs) leads to insights our clients never saw coming.
Questions to ask buyers include:
- What compels you to look for a solution in the first place?
- What outcomes are you hoping for?
- What are your barriers to purchase?
- Who is involved in the decision and what are their unique drivers and concerns?
- What proof points or characteristics cause you to ultimately select one solution or vendor over another?
We get the answers to these questions straight from the source and it helps us better communicate with potential buyers going forward.
• Executive and SME interviews: There’s a wealth of insights and unique perspectives at your company. We like talking to our clients’ executives and subject matter experts to pull out the themes and building blocks of great campaigns and thought leadership content. The dialogue also accelerates our knowledge of the client’s company, industry, product or service, and distinctive point of view.
Messaging is the culmination of the research and analysis. Now that we know what your buyers need to hear, what your competitors are saying, and how the media is covering your space, we can devise a truly distinctive and relevant messaging framework. Messaging created in the vacuum of your internal echo chamber is never as powerful as messaging informed by independent research and analysis.
In B2B technology marketing, your messaging is the foundation for everything you do. It needs to be compelling or your marketing efforts will produce little ROI. A good messaging strategy should consist of a main key message, two to three positioning statements, and three to four support points for each. Positioning statements address the target market’s most pressing need by stating a benefit (why they should care about your solution). If your business has multiple distinct offerings, you may need messaging for each.
The media playbook is the PR professional’s success manual. It’s based on comprehensive research into who should be pitched at which media outlets and what topics will resonate with them and why.
We look at which media outlets our clients’ buyers are reading, which reporters are covering their industry and solutions, and what the trending topics are in their space. This tells us where our media relations focus should be. It also tells us which topics represent opportunities to turn our clients’ unique perspectives into valuable media coverage.
This eliminates the “spray and pray” approach to pitching that has made most journalists detest PR professionals. It aligns client expectations with reality by predicting the expected outcome of each pitch and educates clients on the value of targeted placements.
Finally, the media playbook analyzes the client assets available to drive media coverage. What case studies do they have that would be interesting to trade media? What research and reports can be repurposed as compelling bylined articles? This library of media fodder allows us to generate coverage month in and month out regardless of whether the client is making any newsworthy announcements.
Every dollar you spend with your PR firm to help with the things above can return to you tenfold in media placements that matter, social media that engages the right audience, content that compels, and emails that convert.
Scott Baradell is CEO of Idea Grove, a unified PR and marketing agency, and editor of the online publication Trust Signals.