Because of its effectiveness in generating brand awareness and trust, media relations is fundamental to a successful B2B marketing strategy.  In this blog, I explain why and provide tactical tips on shorter stories that could generate market excitement about your offering.

 

If your communications strategy just focuses on inbound marketing – like web content and social media – you may be missing opportunities to generate leads. Media relations should be integral to your communications mix if you want to help buyers in their decision making – and get the best return on marketing budget (please note: all campaigns depend on a clear strategy, aligned to business goals, and a deep understanding of buyer personas).

 

How buyers use the trade media for research

For buyers, researching the trade media is essential for making informed buying decisions –  especially in a fast-changing, regulated industry like package printing, where price plays only a small factor in determining TCO. In some ways, trade media have the edge over supplier websites for decision-making.

 

First, trade journals and online portals are the places to go to learn first about breaking news developments on products, trends and legislation – all of which can affect business plans. Second, it’s more efficient to learn about a series of new products or announcements on a single website, especially when time is scarce.

 

Third, trade media provide perspective: a single edition of a publication can give a snap-shot of the state of the industry and its burning issues. And fourth, through objective, impartial and insightful reporting, they help the reader form a judgment about the vendors and their offerings.

 

Media exposure brings you credibility

And this is where things can go wrong for campaigns that are just focused on website content. No matter how informative your blogs and LinkedIn posts are, they need third-party endorsement for credibility. After all, when it comes to claims published on your own media, a buyer would say “you would say that, wouldn’t you?” (You’re welcome to ask that of me – so here’s a plug for some of my bylined articles in Labels and Labeling magazine for example, on digital printing, Champagne labels, Rioja wine labels, among others. This industry certainly has its perks).

 

Certainly, in the packaging / print industry, buyers face a seemingly bewildering array of options from conventional and digital workflow providers – look at the deluge of new product announcements at drupa 2024! Editorial, in the form of product round-ups, expert analysis of hot issues, opinion pieces and technical papers, helps buyers make sense of the options they face – and helps them speed up decision-making. (And please, don’t call this ‘content’!)

 

So, if you are a supplier and want to be part of the conversation – and lead it – then you should be building relationships with the journals your target audience consumes. At the very least, you should be sending them your news. But on a deeper level, you should be looking for opportunities to contribute your insight, too. That’s true whether you are a new start-up company, or an established global leader.

 

Advantages of media coverage for your brand

 

  1. Third-party endorsement

By publishing your news, the trade media provide third-party endorsement of your brand.  When the media outlet or journalist reporting about you is well-known and respected for their insight and experience, your brand gains in credibility. And that means readers will trust you more – making them more likely to consider you.

  1. Awareness of your brand, products and services

Media coverage means more people will know you’re in the market and hear about your new offerings. It won’t directly lead to sales, but will increase awareness of your brand – an important foundation for building interest and trust.

  1. Confidence in your brand through proof of performance

A regular stream of news – like product launches, customer wins, appointments and investments – provides proof of performance, and boosts brand reputation, which for buyers are  key factors for choosing a supplier.  It also builds the perception of a successful, dynamic, growing organisation, delivering value to the market. As well as attracting potential investors and employees, your staff are likely to feel proud to be part of a winning, successful, purpose-driven team, too.

  1. Improved SEO

When your press release or article is published online, those searching for your solutions will also find what’s being written about you – also pushing your brand up the search rankings. Potential buyers are more likely to find you and have confidence in your brand. But generating ‘back links’ is more ‘a nice extra’, compared with the more powerful advantage of credibility, mentioned above.

 

To sum up: media relations is key for brand awareness and trust

In summary, media exposure assists decision-making at the awareness stage – generating more of the right kind of leads. Additionally, third-party endorsements give the buyer more reason to trust the vendor as a potential supplier, speeding up the buying journey.

 

Note that a successful campaign, whether media relations or inbound marketing, depends on a clear understanding of the buyer, and a clear strategy aligned with the business plan. Nonetheless, I can still give some general tactical advice about the kinds of shorter stories your B2B audience would be interested in hearing about.

 

What news stories should an organisation tell?

 

News must be relevant, timely, significant (interesting), unique, include a human angle where possible and always answer the reader’s question ‘what’s in it for me?’. Here is a summary of the shorter stories that could meet these criteria:

  • New products / enhanced products – perhaps the most obvious example.
  • New staff appointments – emphasises expanded support team communicate a growing company and better service
  • New dealership / agency appointments – also emphasises improved, local support and better accessibility to your products and services in that region.
  • Case studies – how a customer identified a problem and solved it with your technology. The most persuasive form of content because it validates your claims. Long case studies, over 500 words, should be negotiated into publications with some degree of exclusivity.
  • Customer Wins (‘Deals’) – contracts signed and exchanged make sharable photo stories, and headline news in the media. The delighted, proud new owner, explaining why you were the preferred supplier and providing insight into the change the deal is bringing, provides endorsement. Important: remember to get a photo of the dealmakers, shaking hands or beside the new machine. Photography makes the story more credible.  I’ll be doing a blog on the importance of simple photography soon!
  • Installation stories – the commissioning of a machine is best told with a photo that also includes the proud new owners.
  • Industry or customer awards
  • Industry collaborations and initiatives – e.g. R&D joint venture, joining a waste reduction initiative
  • Internal investments that bring a benefit to customers, e.g. automation reducing time to market
  • Trade show previews – if you’ve got a trade fair stand, what are your exhibit highlights, where will the reader find you? Visitors make plans in advance, so be sure t get your pre-show press release to the media before their print deadlines!
  • Milestone / landmark moments – the first, 100th installation or sale can highlight growth or market leadership
  • Stories reinforcing your ESG commitments – stories about charity donations, community action or waste reduction drives can reinforce your reputation as a responsible organisation, living up to ESG commitments.

Thought leadership ideas

  • Newsjacking – providing comment on a market development, explaining how your solution can answer the need or challenge related to it
  • End-of-year predictions
  • Opinion pieces, features contributions

Some of these stories go beyond the ‘awareness’ stage and cover ‘consideration’ in the buying journey.  Case studies are ideal for helping buyers prefer you, but the lead times are longer, and persuading customers to participate can be challenging. Learn more here about engaging with customers to seek possible case studies.

The benefits of hiring a media relations specialist

A media relations specialist will understand both the target audience and the media they read and watch – and crucially know how they work. They will be able to respond on time to editor requests, and also maintain a tailored, up-to-date media distribution list.  They will know how to create relevant stories that journalists consider newsworthy for their readers.

If you need expert help in developing and implementing an international media relations plan, we have over 20 years experience supporting a number of major suppliers to the package printing industry. Contact me at adrian@adriantippetts.com for a consultation.