The clue is in the copy

We’ve written on this blog about the power of signal theory in PR – the pattern of information that B2B organizations share with the media that shape journalist perceptions about their size, performance and momentum. Journalist opinions matter – as their copy directly influences your customers, prospects and even potential investors.

Signal theory and correct patterns of PR activity are never more crucial than during a campaign targeting new geographies or industries. This will often involve pitching to journalists who regularly cover more well-established competitors and may probably have never heard of you. And beware, even organizations that may have a big reputation in one industry will not necessarily become instant big news in a new market! We’ll talk more about some notable brand stretch highs and lows in the coming weeks on The Level Pitcher.

Should I expect instant results?

No new campaign is going to see overnight success, but once the right journalist targets have been selected, it’s the mix and type of activity which will help propel a PR strategy forward and quickly deliver results. The IBA team will spend a lot of time planning initial campaign activity.

Remember – it’s usually best not to start with your biggest announcement first as it will get lost in the common “never heard of them, can’t be important” journalist response.

Sometimes announcing initiatives into a new market or an appointment of a new executive hopefully from a field leading competitor, to spearhead your drive into a new market, softens up the journalist response and shows you’re serious. Then follow up with a marquee news announcement such as product launch or customer win, with bylined positioning pieces quickly in tow to contextualize the B2B organization in one or many of these target industries.

The rule of three always works

The rule of thumb is that any well-planned campaign should start to yield good results after three months. It’s at this stage where regularity breeds trust – so the content should be well and truly flowing to those target journalists on a regular basis, and by this point, coverage levels should be picking up.

Don’t get blinded by “Pay for Play”

It’s easy with “Pay for Play” opportunities to get blinded by your success when you see your company messages looking you in the face, forgetting that you paid for this. Of course, it’s your message, you paid for it, and remember of course your customers and prospects know this.

But from an earned media perspective, after strategically aligning your PR content and pitching around core topics via selected company subject matter experts for a number of months, one of the greatest signals of trust and momentum is when journalists begin to come to an organization asking for input to features they are currently working on. Your campaign is starting not just to rock, but to roll.

This is where a timely response to some journalist questions or a quick one-on-one interview briefing is key to accelerate the influence of your subject matter expert and cement a B2B organization’s position in the geography or industry in question. Hugely beneficial coverage written directly from an authoritative third-party source.

The ball is rolling

Taking this is a step further is when a campaign is in full swing. You can tell if your B2B organization is becoming a trusted industry or technology leader by whether journalists begin to cover the company without even being asked! Think horizontal technology journalists who regularly pen reviews of the business software they cover – there is huge value to being included in those articles alongside competitors who may be vastly bigger in terms of company size and PR spend.

This is the nirvana for any PR campaign. Money just can’t buy that kind of organic exposure. Only truly earned media which has been cultivated through a carefully planned pattern of activity that sends the correct signal to the correct journalists can catapult a brand from market entrant to industry leader.

Here’s when you should crack open the bottle of champagne

You look at the piece in the target publication – it’s not one that you placed or pitched. It’s not your heading, it’s the journalist’s heading but it’s your message. You’re written up alongside your competitors and other influencers. The journalist has put you in the company of your competitors and yes, you look good by comparison. Open the champagne, your campaign is well and truly up and running!

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.

Leave a comment