Seven Ways to Spot a Good B2B PR Proposal
By Jane Ainsworth on 13th August 2020
B2B PR has changed dramatically in recent years with new channels, tactics and an increasing focus on transparent ROI. With all this change, B2B marketers can be forgiven for finding it much more difficult to differentiate a good PR proposal from a bad one.
Here are seven questions all marketers should be asking themselves when they next receive a B2B PR proposal or pitch presentation from a PR agency:
1. Does the Proposal Demonstrate Market Knowledge?
A good B2B PR proposal will be grounded in the realities of the market that the client is operating in. The key question is, does the agency understand the dynamics of your sector and its supply chain?
For example, machine tool users tend to deal directly with the manufacturer, which simplifies messaging and communication tactics. By contrast, the building products sector has multiple different influences on the buying process, from consultants and architects through to the distributors, with each requiring different messages and tactics.
Competitors are another dynamic. Does the B2B PR proposal demonstrate an understanding of where you sit in the market? Has it identified a dominant market player and, if so, what are they doing?
Most importantly, has the proposal identified some key issues or hot button topics that can be leveraged as part of the campaign?
2. Does it Truly Understand Our Target Audiences?
Audience mapping is a key component of B2B PR. Decision-makers in different sectors have variable length buying cycles that need to be factored into the B2B PR strategy. For example, a machine buyer making a significant capital investment will typically have a long buying cycle during which they will consume multiple pieces of content before making a decision. A good B2B PR plan will factor this in.
Similarly, what is their communication channel of choice? A heating installer, what we call an ‘on-the-go’ person, is much more likely to use Twitter or Facebook and will typically read or subscribe to multiple trade titles such as The Installer and PHAM News. A manufacturing director is likely to be more desk-based and a LinkedIn user with different magazines catering for their interests, such as The Manufacturer and The Engineer. Good B2B PR plans demonstrate a strong audience understanding.
3. Does it Identify an Opportunity?
A key component of a good B2B PR campaign is that it identifies an opportunity in the form of a communication gap or an issue that can be leveraged to your advantage. That opportunity needs to be unique to you.
For example, one of our most successful campaigns for REHAU identified that many building specifiers and consultants took great pride in their work and their contribution to building better communities. However, an audit of competitor activity demonstrated that the sector predominantly served them very functional product messages. Our ‘Build Your Legacy’ campaign saw us appeal to the sense of pride in their work – and we won some awards along the way.
4. Is There a Clear B2B Strategy?
B2B PR campaigns need a strong strategy to underpin tactics and deliver objectives. The strategy is a roadmap for what you will and won’t be doing. Using the REHAU example, our strategy was to make an emotional connection that tapped into building specifiers and consultants’ passion for the built environment. Crucially, the roadmap ensured that we didn’t communicate functional product messages.
5. Does the Proposal Have Strong Content Ideas?
Content marketing is the buzzword of the moment in B2B PR, and strong content ideas are important – but be wary of being offered too many. Two or three strong content ideas rooted in a deep understanding of a sector or industry, which can be marketed to the target audience, are all that is needed.
If the recommendation is to produce a white paper or industry report, does the idea demonstrate real understanding of the market and an issue or challenge that the target audience wants a solution for? When more than one content idea is being proposed, look for a campaign theme that ties all the content together. Our work for Aggreko which included the launch of an industry report into the potential for decentralised energy solutions, had a theme of ‘Bridging the Gap’ which highlighted the company’s ability to provide short-term energy solutions.
6. How Will the Content Be Delivered to the Audience?
It’s one thing to have great B2B PR content, but how will you get it in front of the relevant people on the channels of their choice? A good B2B PR proposal will demonstrate an understanding of the different channels available to market the content, including both offline traditional media relations and online channels.
The delivery phase will also outline an action that you want customers to take, such as visiting a specific page on your website, a request for further information, or to download a report or white paper from a landing page. For example, our workplace hygiene campaign for Office Depot prompted our target audiences to download an office hygiene audit.
7. How Will the Campaign Be Evaluated?
B2B marketers are under increasing pressure to justify their marketing spend with clear ROI. Any B2B PR proposal should be able to tell you what success will look like before it starts. How much press coverage will the campaign generate? How many downloads of a report can you expect? If video is being used, how many views will be delivered?
Evaluation metrics could include:
- Media coverage
- Key messages and tone
- Video views
- Web traffic
- Landing page views
- Social media engagement
- Cost-per-view (CPV)
- Cost-per-click (CPC)
To find out how WPR can help you, contact us.
The author: Jane Ainsworth is managing director of WPR. She has over 20 years’ experience in developing and delivering communications strategies for consumer brands including Dunelm, Tesco, Mothercare, Greene King, John Lewis, Bullring, Beaverbrooks and Westfield.