It’s all about controlling the narrative – whatever the platform!

I’ll start this blog with a disclaimer: I’m pretty agnostic to the works of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé – sorry to Swifties and the BeyHive (I know we have a fair few in the office).

But when it comes to their PR strategies, I’m all ears!

Both pop superstars have been in the news cycle recently, and, despite their huge B2C appeal, there are some key takeaways for B2B PR and marketing professionals, particularly when it comes to crisis management and how to take control of the brand narrative.

How to Swiftly bury bad news

In the old days, Fridays used to be a great day to bury bad news – editors were focused on the weekend, usually with their stories already queued and ready to go. But flip this over, how about exploiting the power of one of the biggest sporting events in the U.S., such as an NFL game, to bury bad news?

Although I’m sure Swifities would say she was watching her rumored new love interest KC tight end Travis Kelce – a contributing factor to the game being the second-most watched match-up of the season – some online commentators are suggesting there was an SEO reason behind Taylor Swift’s attendance at the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the New York Jets this past weekend. It was recently revealed that Taylor Swift has the highest CO2 emissions from her private jet usage than any other celebrity in the world – not helped by the travel for her sellout Eras world tour!

But just like in B2B, never hit a bad story by trying to justify it. The narrative is already written. The story is running – and you’ll never change it. So, move the agenda – go somewhere else – like the MetLife Stadium for one of the biggest NFL events of the year!

A quick Google search shows a majority of the results for “Taylor Swift jets” now center around her attendance at the game – not her hefty air miles. TayTay and her PR team almost got away with it, but thanks to the power of the X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok communities, there are also a few articles asking whether there is indeed an SEO cover-up at play. Kind of ironic that two of the platforms where she is most followed have been the ones to highlight this – live by the popularity sword and die by it too!

Other celebs have also been questioned about using SEO to their advantage to bury less than favorable stories – including Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Harry Styles – they must all be consulting the same crisis comms playbook to mitigate PR fallout!

Shake it off and take back B2B SEO control

There is a direct lesson here for B2B companies. You may have a bad story in one part of your business, but always look to other parts of the business to promote positive stories so you keep the narrative positive and don’t feed the bad story.

So rather than being reactive, B2B organizations can still own the narrative, albeit a different one, and take control of their key messages by exploiting the speed of online content.

Media publications, even trade and technology outlets, have huge UPVPM figures and company names and keywords placed on those websites will naturally appear higher in search results. Google algorithms also favor consistent content and backlinks in authoritative sources for search engine ranking. With only 0.78% of Google users clicking on results from the second page, it really is vital for brand visibility and effective lead generation. For more on this, check out our blog on how PR placements and SEO are intrinsically linked.

Making a Bey line for the Queen Bey

Moving on from one pop princess to the queen of pop – Beyoncé has also been held up as a B2B case study recently. My colleague Judith Ingleton-Beer has seen some social traction for her comments on a LinkedIn blog in the past week – titled B2Bey: Lessons B2B Marketers Can Learn From Beyoncé.

The blog is authored by Tequia Burt, Editor in Chief at the LinkedIn Collective. Unlike Judith and myself, she is a self-confessed member of the BeyHive – and has looked at four key ways B2B organizations can tap into Beyoncé’s iconic appeal and see how she has maintained her domination as the leading lady in the music industry.

This begins with her use of social media and multimedia platforms, such as a self-produced documentary, to creatively share her story with millions of fans. While dealing with a smaller targeted audience, creative storytelling is rife in the B2B world too. A LinkedIn survey of marketing leaders found that 81% believed B2B brands are producing creative campaigns that rival those of consumer brands.

So, think outside of the box – strong visuals will be important to bring these stories to life.  Consider Beyonce’s combination of music, lyrics, visuals, and poetry for her multimedia audiovisual album ‘Lemonade’ – in the top 40 albums of all time according to Rolling Stone Magazine. Authenticity is also extremely important – ‘Lemonade’ in particular often addresses Beyoncé personal experiences and feelings/emotions that enable listeners to relate to her.

Run the B2Bey world

Burt finishes her blog by highlighting how a combination of “Storytelling, strong visuals and authenticity will get your foot in the door. From there, strategic and consistent messaging will keep them engaged.”

This key message can be directly translated into how to deliver B2B PR and marketing campaigns. One and done, or sporadic press releases, articles, and blogs, the odd white paper, and some socials posts will not put B2B organizations in control of their brand narrative – least of all engage B2B buyers throughout their extra-long buying cycle. No surprise that recent stats show B2B brand messaging is becoming too vague to attract buyers.

IBA has long been an advocate for the power of cognitive resonance, achieved through carefully planned and executed B2B PR campaigns designed to address business pain points and engage buyers through the sales funnel.

Every piece of content counts and needs to relate to a key company message – regardless of the medium. We call this the ‘hidden agenda’ of PR – not in your face but persuasively there to build your unique brand equity. Check out our blog on content atomization to keep campaigns on-message and get maximum mileage from every asset.

Make your B2B organization stand out from the competitive noise

While I won’t be in the virtual queue for the next Taylor Swift or Beyoncé ticket drop, there is certainly a lot to appreciate from their slick PR and marketing operations. They didn’t get to where they are by chance! It’s all about taking control of the brand narrative. B2B organizations can learn a lot from their playbook.

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.

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