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Your B2B tech PR strategy should be more than media relations.

When tech companies contact us for PR help, many at first want to focus only on media relations. But that's too narrow a strategy in 2021. We ask them this question: "What is the business goal of media coverage for you?" Ultimately, that's what we want to help you achieve. 

Today, the most effective PR strategies integrate all the major forms of third-party validation, including media coverage, online reviews and influencer marketing. Because it's no longer just about how you appear in the press; it's about how you appear everywhere.

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Our Trust-Centered Approach to PR

  1. Develop a strategy for making sure your brand earns visibility in the channels your audiences value most, ranging from top industry and tech news websites to niche online communities and online review sites.

  2. Make your story sizzle. This could be getting customers to speak in an exclusive press conference, sharing case studies on top review sites, collaborating with influencers on a product deep dive, or amplifying your next big announcement with an online media tour.

  3. Wash, rinse, repeat. We continuously analyze and improve, using data to inform our evolving strategy, shape priorities, and optimize results.

FAQs

What would you like to know?

Your Questions Answered

Why does my B2B tech company need PR?

Your company needs PR because PR establishes trust, and brands need trust more than ever. Public relations is no longer simply about securing mentions in the mainstream media. The press remains critically important, but is only one source of influence on buyer trust.

Today, a wide range of trust signals, from branded search results to how your company appears in social media and on customer review sites, make a PR program a complex mosaic. Managing that requires a strategy for what to tackle and when. That’s why you need to work with a B2B tech PR firm that understands how to manage not just your relations with the media but how you relate more broadly to the public.

Is my company ready for a PR agency?

If you are a mid-market B2B tech company looking to grow, then you need public relations. You need to have a presence in the media to gather attention. You need to manage how you appear in branded search results, and you need help optimizing how you appear on third-party review sites. All of this is how you create brand trust, and it’s brand trust more than anything else that is going to determine long-term success.

Should I issue an RFP when searching for a PR firm?

It depends on the size and culture of your company as well as your budget. For large organizations that prefer the formality of an RFP process, issuing an RFP to a short list of PR agencies can help you achieve internal buy-in for your program and vendor. But keep in mind that RFPs are time-consuming—both for you and the participating agencies. For this reason, a formal RFP process is usually only advisable when the program budget is $200,000 or more annually. Here's some advice for issuing your PR agency RFP.

Does PR translate into business growth?

Yes, it does. That's why Bill Gates famously said, "If I was down to my last dollar I would spend it on PR."

Importantly, however, PR is not lead generation. It is trust generation. And Idea Grove is not a lead generation firm; we help companies Grow With TRUST

Given that Idea Grove works with many supply-chain management companies, we'll frame this in terms of transportation and logistics:

Idea Grove is not a "last-mile delivery" company when it comes to business growth.

Instead, we help our clients create the environment that makes lead generation possible. Because without trust, nothing else matters.

For those Idea Grove clients seeking support with lead generation as part of a unified PR and marketing program, we partner with various lead-generation vendors and consultants to deliver this "last mile" service.

What are some ways PR fuels growth?

If you think of a company’s growth as a garden, its innovative services, products and solutions are the seeds. PR is the fertilizer and nutrition that help those seeds grow. Once planted and nurtured, email marketing, content creation and lead development get you to harvest—closing the deal or securing target investors.

We would all like to jump straight from seed to harvest, but as anyone who has ever tended a garden knows, it simply doesn’t work that way. In order to get the most out of PR, brands need to understand the importance of the growth process—realizing that above-the-funnel PR strategies lead prospects be more receptive.

Successful PR strategies combine thought leadership, third-party endorsement, and visibility across media tiers and verticals to effectively build credibility and trust.

How will media coverage boost my brand's authority with Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia?

Despite the many challenges today's media industry faces, news coverage in well-known media outlets is arguably a more powerful marketing tool than ever before.

That's because in our fragmented media environment—and in a post-truth world where information sources are under constant scrutiny—established media organizations carry enormous weight where it matters most.

And it matters most with Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia—the five most trafficked websites in the world. Specifically:

  • Google ranks sites with media coverage higher in search;
  • Facebook and YouTube give preference to mainstream media sources over less-trusted independent information sources to reduce the proliferation of  "fake news";
  • Twitter awards its famous blue checkmarks based on earned media coverage; and
  • Wikipedia approves brands for entries based largely on notability demonstrated through media coverage.

Idea Grove CEO Scott Baradell discusses "The Secret Superpowers of Media Coverage" in more detail on the Spin Sucks blog.

How should I measure the success of my PR program?

Since PR is not a "last mile" strategy for new business, lead generation is a poor way to determine the impact of a PR program. But that doesn't mean the success of your PR efforts can't be measured. One important way to measure your brand's progress in building awareness and trust is to track the increase in Google searches for your brand name over time.

A branded search can be a simple search for your brand name ("Idea Grove," in the case of our agency) or a "brand-plus-keyword" query that combines a brand name with a generic keyword or phrase (such as, "Idea Grove PR agency").

Would you be surprised to learn that 90 of the top 100 Google search queries in 2020 were branded searches? Led by "Facebook," "YouTube" and "Amazon," branded searches also account for 14 of the top 15 Google queries, with only the non-branded keyword "weather" breaking in at No. 6.

For every "restaurants near me" (ranked #69), there's a "dominos" (#64) and "pizza hut" (#73). And those branded searches deliver a strong trust signal to Google's algorithm. The more visitors a website gets from branded searches, the more SEO authority Google bestows on the brand.

 

What is unique about Idea Grove’s approach to PR?

Idea Grove’s approach to PR is different from other firms in that we don’t just focus on securing media placements. While we know those are important, we also recognize that the mainstream media doesn’t have the reach or influence that it once had. Today, public relations is about all of the ways your business relates to the public, and that’s why it needs to include things like how you appear in branded search results and what your profile looks like on social media and third-party review sites. Our approach to PR incorporates management of all of these aspects of your public appearance because worrying about media relations is no longer enough.

How can PR strategy work hand in hand with my inbound marketing program?

Inbound marketing is ultimately about telling stories and providing information that attract the attention of your buyers and other audiences. This includes blog content, guest posts, podcasts and other content.

But with the glut of content online, creating content that attracts website visitors has become more difficult over time. That's where an experienced PR team and solid PR strategy can come in handy.

You see, PR practitioners are accustomed to achieving a higher bar with their storytelling than most inbound marketers. The stories that PR pros pitch to the media must actually be worthy of a journalist's attention—whether it's an original industry survey, a thought leadership platform or or social purpose initiative. 

At Idea Grove, we frequently develop surveys that we not only pitch to the news media to secure coverage, but that we also turn into downloadable content for buyers. This is one example of how our PR practice and HubSpot consulting practice work hand in hand to better serve our clients. 

How important is it that my PR agency has deep technical knowledge of my industry?

While deep technical knowledge of your industry isn’t a must-have, working with a B2B tech PR firm that has a deep understanding of not just your industry but also the B2B tech world, in general, is going to benefit you in two ways.

First, it’s much easier to hit the ground running. You aren’t going to need to spend time in kick-off meetings educating your new agency on the basics of your industry or your business. You can dive in and receive specific recommendations borne of experience.

Second, you will benefit from the work already done for previous clients. Your agency will already have contacts with the media and analysts that it can leverage on your behalf.

What's the key to a successful media pitch?

A media pitch is a one-on-one communication with a reporter designed to catch their attention and spark engagement by sharing story ideas and company news that they may consider covering, now or in the future.

To get the most out of a media pitch, it's important to place specific emphasis on making pitches to media relatable, tailored and personalized. This includes leaning into different geographies, niche topics, and complicated subject matter.

It also means building trustworthy relationships with the media so we can approach them as individuals as well as journalists. It means taking the time to look at areas the reporter has covered in their recent work and identifying any relevant threads and opportunities.

Finally, PR pros should approach every pitch with experts on deck, armed with precisely the information and assets needed to make journalists’ lives easier and to ensure they can meet quick-turnaround deadlines. 

At Idea Grove, we craft pitches carefully for each reporter, rather than blasting out emails to large distribution lists. Pitching journalists with the same level of care they take when researching a story helps us build relationships for our clients that are centered on trust.

Is my news release actually news?

Most working journalists have to deal with hundreds, if not thousands, of press releases that cross the transom every year. To make yours stand out, it’s important to make sure it’s actually newsworthy

There are a few ways journalists can tell if a release is BS. It makes vague claims; it abuses industry jargon, and its distribution, through email or a wire service or both, is clumsy.

At Idea Grove, we keep your press releases straightforward in structure, clear in language and supported by facts. And if we don't think your announcement is newsworthy, we'll tell you. 

What do I need to consider before a major PR announcement?

When your brand is making any type of announcement, it’s easy to assume that because you consider it timely and compelling, your media relations campaign will be a breeze.

But the truth is you need to identify the broader significance of your announcement, determine realistic expectations and communicate them internally, and organize your resources to generate the best results. Depending on the announcement, a pre-briefing strategy may be advisable. You will also need to carefully tailor your pitch to your media targets.

 The steps you take to prepare for an announcement will have a direct effect on how successful it is and whether or not it increases awareness and trust for your brand.

How can I leverage media coverage in the sales process?

Too often, the impact of B2B technology media isn’t what it could be, as marketing and sales teams fail to maximize the benefits of strategic media placements.

To get the most out of your media wins, brands should give coverage new life by promoting it in digital advertising, on social media and in emails to customer and prospects. Adding a visually appealing, frequently updated digital newsroom to your site will also attract fresh interest in your media coverage from both buyers and journalists.

How can I use data in PR to generate visibility and trust?

Audiences, including both journalists and buyers, trust quantitative data. They also trust those who’ve taken the time to generate that quantitative data themselves to deliver insights about their industry or larger technology trends.

With proprietary data, you can offer reporters unique, valuable insights that no one else can. There are limitless opportunities to enhance your B2B tech PR program with this strategy. Idea Grove can help make generating surveys a staple of your media outreach.

How will my PR strategy benefit from a contributed article program?

No PR program is complete without a contributed article strategy to promote thought leadership—even though some clients may find this prospect intimidating.

Some clients think thought leaders have to be established authors with recognizable names. But all you actually need is to discuss topics you’re passionate about and offer your unique perspective and knowledge to your audience.

Contributing articles to third-party publications, from industry trades to popular blogs, will position your executives, as well as your brand, as an authoritative figure in the industry and generate momentum for your overall PR efforts.

Idea Grove implements contributed article programs—also known as bylined article or guest post programs—with clients to help them stay relevant and be seen as experts in the fast-changing worlds of technology and business.

Should winning industry awards be an objective of my PR strategy?

Yes—but not all awards are created equal.

Many PR agencies will advise you to pursue an awards program that generates the equivalent of participation trophies. At Idea Grove, our approach to applying for awards for our clients is the same as everything else we do: we opt for quality over quantity.

Award applications can require a considerable amount of time and effort. To ensure that this time is well-spent, we take the following six-step approach:

  1. We study the reputation of awarding organizations;
  2. We take a close look at past winners;
  3. We make sure the award category fits your brand;
  4. We look for opportunities to highlight your top strategic accomplishments;
  5. We make sure to showcase your wins on your website and elsewhere online; and
  6. We create a calendar for you to keep the momentum going.

Showcased on your website, those harder-to-get awards can be hugely influential trust signals for your buyers and other audiences. 

What should international companies look for in a U.S. PR firm when entering the U.S. market?

Because Idea Grove has worked with many international clients over the years, we applied our learnings to create a U.S. PR agency guide for non-U.S.-companies entering the U.S. market. It's very common for miscommunications and misunderstandings to occur between international clients and U.S. agencies; this guide will make your experience easier with fewer surprises.

Does Idea Grove use PR tools like Cision Communications Cloud?

Yes. One of the benefits of being a B2B tech agency is that Idea Grove has significant experience in marketing technology. This has helped us to assemble a set of tools that make our PR programs both productive and efficient. Chief among these tools is Cision Communications Cloud.

We discuss how to use Cision in detail in the Idea Grove Knowledge Base. Cision's benefits include:

We use additional tools, such as TrendKite, Sprout Social and more.

MICHELLE FANNING, <strong>PIVOT3</strong>
“Idea Grove doesn’t come to the table with a formulaic approach to PR. They build individual strategies that match your specific goals, and it’s how they helped us get national coverage in major outlets when we were an emerging vendor.”
MICHELLE FANNING, PIVOT3

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