“Must Have” B2B Programs For Your 2019 PR Strategy

Dec 04, 2018 Ed Harrison

We’ve hit December — a time to close out the year’s meaningful activities while putting the finishing touches on plans for 2019.

Most of our B2B clients’ 2019 marketing plans are nearing completion, setting stakes in the ground for the programs and campaigns to engage critical audiences. Likewise, we are working closely with our clients to create integrated PR strategies that will help them meet their 2019 marketing goals — providing a framework that reinforces top-line messages while valuing flexibility to remain relevant in today’s changing media landscape.

Beyond the foundational PR programs, what are we suggesting for our B2B tech clients in 2019? Here are a few highlights:

  • Messaging. We’re assuming here you’ve already developed your top-line messages. With that, the new year is an excellent touchpoint to revisit, and if necessary, refresh your messages, to stay relevant with your key audiences, the market and the media while ensuring alignment with short- and long-term goals.

  • Influencer programs. Sure, consumer marketers have embraced this concept for years — but the B2B buyer’s journey also lends itself well to influencer marketing. B2B prospects get two-thirds through the buyer’s journey before they even reach out to a vendor. Instead, they are turning to peers, thought leaders and other influencers rather than vendors’ sales teams. So engage with these influencers through programs built on high-quality content, video, earned media placements, reports or special events.

  • Amplification. Securing earned media is increasingly difficult. Among other reasons, there’s more of us chasing fewer of them — in 2017, there were more than 5 publicists for every 1 journalist. So you’ve beaten the odds and gotten that hit. Now what? Strategic amplification programs extend the life of every piece of earned content. This can take the form of sharing (emailing to employees, customers and even industry newsletters that syndicate news coverage), posting to social media or putting some dollars behind boosting an article on LinkedIn or Outbrain. One suggestion — take some of the budget you’ve earmarked for that dot-rev product enhancement release and put it behind a paid LinkedIn amplification.

  • Purpose-driven PR. Some see corporate social responsibility as a reputation-builder; in fact, it needs to be change-maker. In an era rife with distrust, customers and employees speak with their values as well as their wallets. Forward-thinking companies are embracing an authentic approach to CSR — using their values and principles as a beacon.

  • Crisis plans. So what happens when that good reputation you’ve purposefully built over time takes a hit? You may not imagine your B2B tech company needs a crisis plan. But think about this year’s scandals — most of them seemed unimaginable in the not-to-distant past, too. The re-emergence of investigative journalism has shined the light on a series of incredibly high-profile corporate missteps. We’ve done more crisis work than ever before — but as our CEO Beth Monaghan put it, without a plan, “PR can help, but in those cases, we’re only going to be able to make the situations slightly less bad.” Trust is eroding — and reputations can be toppled in an instant. A proactive crisis plan ensures you can respond best in the face of turmoil.

Even the staunchest optimist will admit that 2018 was a difficult year. As we look ahead to the promise of a new year, ensure that your PR plans include programs to help you reach your goals in even the most challenging times.

Topics: Enterprise Tech, Public Relations, 2019, InkHouse Strategies, Communications
Ed Harrison

Ed Harrison is a senior vice president for InkHouse and leads the east coast's enterprise technology practice. He has led B2B tech PR programs for clients large and small since 1996.

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