Disclaimer: this guide is meant for b2b heroes with hearts of gold. If your heart is made of ice and you’re more into world domination, please refer to our other guide called How to dominate your b2b PR agency.
Are you seeking to save the world and manage your b2b company’s PR and marketing efforts? Is your product perhaps a humble first step towards a more harmonious world, and all you need is a top-tier team of PR and marketing professionals to spread the good word? If that rings true (or you find it at least mildly interesting), you’ll be glad to learn that there is a way to win the day.
And that way is called a ‘b2b PR agency’.
Or, as any good agency would call it, a partner. A sidekick. A Sam to your Frodo. A Solo to your Skywalker.
However, partnerships aren’t always easy, and getting even the best teams firing on all cylinders can sometimes be challenging. Fortunately, we made a how-to guide to get you started on the hero’s journey.
Step one: making new friends
It’s important to understand that your new partner is there to take part, not take over. You’re still the hero. But how do you identify an excellent b2b PR agency? And how can you determine if that agency is perfect for you?
Well, the initial calls and pitches are crucial.
If an agency only focuses on what it can produce, chances are it will take a lot more time and effort to create a successful partnership. And that’s costly, especially in the long term.
A great agency will ask lots of questions. They’ll go beyond what they can produce. They’ll want to know where your company has been, where you are now, and where you want to go. Who is your target audience? What’s your current media coverage and marketing communications like? How does your content support sales and revenue?
Are they the best sidekicks for your journey? Are you the best hero for theirs? Once you start hearing these questions, you’re on the right track.
Another tip is to ensure you meet your actual PR and marketing team. You know, the people who’ll be fighting for justice alongside you from Monday to Friday. In their enthusiasm, agencies can sometimes get carried away trying to impress you with senior staff. But you also need to meet and talk to the people who’ll be in every meeting and do most of the day-to-day work.
Step two: defining success for your b2b PR agency
Once you’ve decided on an agency and provided them with all your brand-related materials (marketing campaigns, market research, customer feedback, etc.), you should try to meet your new team in person. At least once! (If your teams are based thousands of kilometres apart, video chat obviously will have to do.)
But there’s no substitute for face-to-face communication. Some social time can go a long way to create the foundation for a healthy and profitable partnership. And don’t just restrict it to the PR and marketing teams. Try to involve your product, sales, and customer success teams too, as they’ll all play a role in delivering a successful campaign.
This will also give the agency a much better feel for how you want to speak about the company, the product, and the market. Once they have that, you can start booking weekly or bi-weekly video meetings with the marketing team (assuming you turn your cameras on!), but it can still be good to meet in person once in a while.
The point of all this work is that your sidekick will need time to adjust to their new hero. Time to learn. They need to understand what kind of company you are, how you think, what you want to say, what your products do, and then combine all of that into stories that will captivate your target audience. Also, remember to define what success looks like for you. Is it seeing your CEO’s face on the front cover of Wired (which isn’t easy unless they happen to be Musk or Zuckerberg), brand awareness with key prospects, sales leads in a new market, share of voice against the noisy competitor up the road, or something else. That way, the agency knows what will keep you and the rest of the company happy.
And the more you share in that initial process, the more you shall receive.
Step three: reviewing PR and digital content marketing
These days, many – if not most – b2b PR agencies are PR and marketing hybrids. This is because the world has developed an almost insatiable appetite for quality content such as thought-leadership articles and how-to guides *wink-wink*.
To make matters a bit more complicated, the sheer quantities of content circulating digital platforms also means that you should include things such as PPC (pay-per-click) advertising and SEO (Google’s search engine optimisation) to shine a light on what you’re trying to say.
You also want to think about how content is divided and published, and how to get the most out of what you produce. Does the content suit the press? Or is it better for your website? Or perhaps it’s best for your social media or even your sales teams.
As for getting the most out of each piece of content, remember that you can, for example, turn a video podcast into an audio podcast, transcribe it and turn it into a thought-leadership article, which in turn can become video snippets for social media.
As a result of all this, you’ll need to give feedback and approve a lot of strategy and content, which can be a complicated process to perfect. Producing quality content on a regular basis is essential to success, which means you shouldn’t have everyone from the intern to the CEO reviewing every piece of text. That will slow production rates to a crawl. It can also damage the quality of the storytelling and voice; as the old proverb says, too many cooks spoil the broth.
That said, you’re the subject experts – the heroes. You know things about your company, product, and industry that your sidekick won’t and probably never will. They’ll need to know what they can or cannot say and your input and feedback on things such as tone of voice and product launches.
The key is to find a balance.
Work with your agency to decide on a few key individuals for the reviewing process. Then, start producing.
Step four: staying involved and relevant
Now that you’ve followed all the steps to success, it’s vital to maintain them. At this point, your PR and marketing efforts should be trucking away, and your agency should be producing quality content on the regular.
However, times change. Societal trends change, geopolitical events disrupt the status quo, and our target audience evolves in new and exciting directions. That means your company and its brand must also evolve. But it must be done right.
Changing too much, too fast, or too often is rarely a great idea. Brand consistency is imperative. Constantly altering your communication could shackle your chances of establishing a voice with the media and your target audience. And don’t forget that the process might be challenging for your agency to follow if you keep them out of the loop.
In fact, involving your agency in the process is highly recommended. After all, you’re supposed to be partners!
But, again, you’re the hero with the inside scoop. From a PR and marketing standpoint, your perspective on things such as industry predictions, exciting areas of development, and sector competition is priceless.
Step five: collaborating with a b2b PR agency while saving the world
Congratulations, hero! You’ve successfully established a well-oiled b2b PR and marketing machine. You’re spreading the good word in all the right ways, saving the world one product at a time. As long as you maintain it and evolve at the right pace, there’s no limit to how far you can go.
If you’d like to test this guide on a real b2b PR agency, say firstname.lastname@example.org.