Your goal is to sell to businesses. For that, you need qualified business leads that come from a robust lead generation program. There are many elements to creating a program that produces a high quantity of high quality leads: SEO, SEM, Content Marketing, Social Media, and more. But among these channels, an important strategy is public relations.
Lead generation and PR: Why it matters.
There are two factors contributing to the importance of PR in B2B marketing strategies:
- B2B companies need more leads of higher quality
- Third-party sources create the highest quality of leads
Let’s take a look at some recent research: Lattice Engines and CSO Insights report that sixty-eight percent of business are not getting enough quality leads through their lead generation efforts and blame their marketing people for it.
Another study conducted by marketing powerhouses Eloqua and CMO.com, “third-party lead originators and publishers get the most favorable ratings, with 34% saying they deliver a high quantity of leads.”
The experts have reached their conclusion, the reports have been published, and the facts speak for themselves: PR can have tremendous impact on B2B lead generation.
Public Relations: How to do it right.
There are many ways B2B companies harness public relations for the lead generation strategies. While it is true that PR plays an essential role in lead generation, not all strategies are created equal. If you have decided to allocate resources to (at least . . . test) public relations, don’t do it randomly. Think about your strategy, create a plan, set goals and KPIs, and track your progress.
On a strategic level, here are the top elements of PR for lead generation:
1. Synergize between lead generation channels
Your public relations strategy is not a stand-alone enterprise. It must work in synergy with your other efforts. For example, your PR efforts should always be optimized for search engines, in line with your SEO strategy. Furthermore, your social media strategy must work hand in hand with your PR to get the most out of the press coverage.
2. Thought leaders get more press
Besides the teamwork among all of your marketing efforts, remember also that public relations is not a short, “quick pay-off” kind of endeavor. You must establish yourself as a thought leader in your vertical. Use your blog or guest blogging opportunities to discuss issues and news that are relevant to your industry (not necessarily to your product). You live and breathe your sector – make your opinions known. Blog about interesting topics, comment on relevant social conversations, participate at virtual and live events. Thought leadership is hard to measure, but its effects are not. Take the time to build your reputation: not only as a seller or your product, but as a commentator about your space.
3. Recruit evangelists
Think of yourself as a buyer for a moment. What do you trust more: the seller of a product telling you how great the product is, or an actual user of the product telling you how it helped their business? Your satisfied customers can be leveraged to get public relations coverage for your business without even (or, in addition to) quoting you. Contact some of your early adopters to create case studies. Identify influencers in your space and give them an extended trial to test your product and tell others about it.
4. Track competitors
Do you have direct competitors? Tracking their PR activities can provide valuable insights. You can find new publishers to approach, you can dissect their messaging, and you can understand their offers (and offer something better). But strategic PR efforts take this competitive research a step further. Do not track only your direct competitors: track other companies in your space who are targeting the same buyers. Understand their strategies, reverse-engineer their PR plans, and use the insights you learn to develop your own.
B2B Lead Generation with Public Relations
You can have a B2B marketing program without PR. You will get qualified leads this way (and you probably already have). When your needs to get to the next level: when your sales team demands more/better/quicker, when you are ready to lead the industry, you must include PR in your efforts.
Adding public relations to your marketing efforts will help:
- Position you as an industry expert
- Get third party coverage that generates more leads or higher quality
- Generate buzz about your company
- Increase traffic to your site
To do public relations right, SMEs may not need a full-time employee on staff to orchestrate the effort. But, the effort does need orchestration, nonetheless. This is where a marketing firm has immense value: make sure you select a partner that in knowledgeable and experienced in increasing your reach and influence through public relations for lead generation