Winning third-party endorsement from journalists and key influencers

Research shows that content is having a significant impact on B2B buying decisions. The B2B buying cycle is changing, with decision makers taking more ownership of the top of the sales and marketing funnel and using self-directed research to a far greater extent than ever before.

As a result, B2B buyers are looking for more relevant, quality content to support their decisions. Company blogs are the bedrock of the process which influences their judgement about your business long before they ever speak with your sales team.

Here we explain how you can use those blogs to win online third-party endorsement from journalists and key influencers that can become a vital difference between winning and losing the sale.

It all starts with a blog…
There is no denying the influence of a well-run and maintained blog on a company’s lead generation campaigns, and it’s a tried and tested way to position a brand earlier on in the sales process – in a way that product pages, solution fact sheets and technical documentation can’t.

The narrative structure of most blogs enables a company to position itself, and its subject matter experts, in the context of the wider industry. It’s a very quick and effective way to address hot topics, align a company with changes in the marketplace and take a position on the issues affecting its customers.

Understand the real value of content
But this is where a lot of companies stop – once the blog is live and shared a few times over social media, it’s on to the next asset. While we wouldn’t discourage companies from producing more content, we would suggest they take another look at what has already been produced to see what more can be done with it.

Give your blogs wings
At IBA we try to squeeze every bit of value from approved copy to help marketeers use their resources as efficiently as possible to maximize its ROI. One of the ways is media relations as it earns you that all important third-party endorsement. If you are already producing good inbound marketing material you’ve got a great foundation for gaining earned media through industry thought leadership.

The media landscape has changed over the years and there are fewer journalists on editorial teams – especially in the trade and industry space – and the need for knowledgeable subject matter experts to contribute content has grown.

High quality contributed content is in demand, and if your creation process is up to scratch you will be regularly producing content which, with a little media knowhow, can be repurposed, pitched out to target media outlets and placed as earned thought leadership. This is a central part of the content campaigns IBA runs for its clients, and we’ve had great success combining their industry knowledge with our media experience.

Because the benefits are real
The benefits are huge. The earned media element of a marketing campaign dramatically increases the reach and exposure of a business’s content, and if you are pitching to the right journalists, it does so to a very targeted readership.

Done correctly, this will position companies at the forefront of their industries and establish their key executives as go-to resources for the editors and journalists working in those sectors. It will raise brand awareness in targeted and trusted online and digital publications – with the trustworthiness and credibility critical in B2B buying decisions.

It should become a key factor in your link-building strategy – the backlinks you earn will be from authoritative domains and feed back to drive off-page SEO.

Where does it go wrong for most people? No more wire services
The first point to mention is that the ‘pay and spray’ approach of distributing news via a wire service is not the way to establish your experts as thought leaders – it’s not even the right way to distribute press releases. It just gets you machine pickups, not third-party endorsement from quality and authoritative media. You have to establish a target media list of relevant journalists in relevant publications which match the story your company has to tell.

Become a storyteller
Which leads to my next point – pick the right story. Journalists don’t want a product shill; they want something that provides value to their readership. They also don’t want yesterday’s news, they want tomorrow’s. They won’t get this from the 1000th pitch on cloud technology they have deleted that day. Become a storyteller for your brand and think about the wider context in which your company operates if you want to pitch compelling content that affects the world around you.

With your hitlist in hand and a story to tell, you need to dedicate outreach to start building relationships to position your brand with the journalists. Again, this is not a product pitch, it’s a positioning exercise. Here, regularity is fundamental. Establishing a business in the mind of the media takes effort, but there is little value in being a one hit wonder – building momentum is everything.

You need to give and take to succeed
B2B companies need to provide multiple digital touchpoints for their content if they want to raise awareness with their target audience. Media relations is a fantastic way to achieve this, when executed correctly. The important thing to remember is that it’s a two-way street and you have to provide value if you want to get some in return.

We cover this and more in our eBook on getting started with digital content marketing. If you want to make the most of your content efforts to extract as much value as possible, give it a read – IBA Digital Marketing eBook.

Simon Woolley is a Content Marketing Specialist at IBA International.

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