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  • Writer's pictureGordon G. Andrew

Publicity for Your B2B Business: Short-Term Sugar High…or Credibility Tool?

For decades, B2B companies have used publicity to build awareness and credibility for their brand, and to position their firm as a “safe choice” for prospective customers. Many B2B firms fail to understand, however, that not all types of publicity have equal value, in terms of its potential to generate leads or revenue. 

Here are some basic facts about publicity (a/k/a PR or earned media) and its value as a B2B business development tactic:

o   The sheer volume of content generated by bona fide business, financial, and industry publications is so immense that the chances of your target audience noticing the coverage (much less doing something about it) are extremely unlikely.

o   Most prospects won’t read (or watch) your content. But they will notice “masthead value,” which is how well the media source where your content’s published (or broadcast) is known and respected. The Wall Street Journal has higher masthead value, for example, than Crain’s New York Business, or any regional business publication.

o   Publication of your content is NOT the end goal. Instead, the objective to integrate published content into to your marketing and sales strategy. If you simply post a reprint or link of your published content on your website or social media, you’ve lost its potential to generate or nurture qualified leads.

o   In advance of seeking any type of media placement, there needs to be a plan in place that describes how that exposure will be leveraged to drive market engagement.

The Least Effective B2B Publicity Tactic

Countless hours are spent by PR practitioners on campaigns to encourage media sources to include quotes from their company’s subject matter experts in roundup stories (or TV/ cable news segments) written or hosted by professional journalists. Your CEO, Managing Partner, or Chief Investment Officer, for example, might provide an opinion on current or future market / industry conditions and trends, or guidance on how to select an attorney, or ways to avoid online scams, or tips on leasing an exotic car.

B2B companies that succeed will then promote their executives’ remarks in the coverage by claiming they were “featured in” ForbesNew York Times, CNBC's Squawk Box, or some other well-known media source. But the business development value of this type of media coverage is minimal because:

 - Very often, competitors will also be included in the coverage, which eliminates its potential as a marketing tool without some cutting, pasting, or editing…which reflects poorly on the company’s integrity.

 - The topics covered in news and feature stories often have a very short shelf life. Few people are interested in reading your executive’s industry predictions for the coming year much past the second week in January, or hearing her opinion on pricing of an IPO.

 - There’s little control over the content. Your executive may be misquoted, or the journalist may have a contrarian viewpoint, which can diminish their credibility. 

In general, earned media coverage based on one-off in articles written by professional journalists fall short because they do not provide the raw material necessary to re-purpose and integrate that content into the sales function. It’s often a vanity exercise. A short-term publicity sugar high.

The Most Effective B2B Publicity Tactic

For prospects to put your B2B firm on their short list for consideration, you need to showcase its intellectual capital, so they can draw their own conclusion regarding your firm’s potential to add value. You also need to control the narrative by publishing your content in an editorial environment that’s not subject to additional or opposing viewpoints.

The only earned media format that delivers those three benefits is bylined articles, authored by your firm’s subject matter experts, that are placed in publications with high masthead value. These bylined article placements:

 - provide inherent 3rd party endorsements of your firm’s credibility from objective sources,

 - have long online shelf-life, based on the higher page rankings that Google assigns to published content from well-known sources,

 - deliver valuable back links, because many bylined article formats include links to your company’s website and / or the author’s profile located on your website or LinkedIn,

 - enable you to produce a “un-doctored” reprint of the complete article, for integration into your firm’s sales or nurturing strategy.

Despite these benefits, there are several reasons why B2B firms don’t leverage the marketing and sales potential of bylined articles. Notably, they require internal or outsourced talent capable of producing long form content that meets the rigorous editorial standards of high value publications.

Bylined articles also require the ability to identify the most appropriate publications and to properly pitch relevant, interesting topics to discriminating editors who are often overwhelmed with article proposals. Because the article placement process can involve more rejection than acceptance, PR practitioners often are reluctant to take on those responsibilities.

B2B firms have a clear choice when it comes to the type of earned media coverage they seek to generate market engagement. One-off quotes in stories written by journalists do little to move the needle. Bylined articles in respected publications produce credibility tools that makes the phones ring.


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