Beyond sales: Why PR is the secret weapon for building trust

Last updated: 10th June 2024

Sales and advertising are the engines that drive business growth, but what fuels trust and positive relationships? That's where PR comes in. It's the secret weapon of your B2B marketing plan, shaping how the public perceives your company and the people behind it.

Public relations, commonly known as PR, is the art of managing the relationships between an individual or an organisation and the public – whether that’s internal staff, suppliers, investors, customers or potential customers. PR offers a crucial tool for creating trust and connections, making it easier to bring your products and services to market. 

In today’s highly competitive B2B world, having a smashing business idea is not always enough to succeed. If people do not believe or have trust in your brand the efforts put into a product or service may go in vain. Public relations play a vital role in creating a positive image of a brand or person within a company and best-placing content where the intended audience will see it. The main aim of PR is not to sell, but to build and protect the reputation of a brand, earn support, and influence opinions and behaviour. Increased sales are usually a by-product of proactive and reactive PR activities working in tandem with an integrated marketing strategy.

Reputation is an invaluable asset of any business and is as important as the financial bottom line. A good reputation can attract new investment opportunities, sales prospects, and better employee candidates. With easy access to online reviews, Google searches, and rolling news coverage, putting a reputation management strategy in place is also crucial to protect a company’s image should an incident occur. It also adds credit to a business’s reputation bank, enabling it to stand out from competitors and in the event of a crisis, secure loyalty and trust with stakeholders.

According to research by Weber Shandwick, global executives, on average, attribute 63% of their company’s market value to their company’s overall reputation. Now, considering PR is all about reputation management, it would seem crucial to have a strategy in place to protect that large percentage.

The power of proactive PR

It’s a common misconception that businesses only enlist the help of PR experts during a communications crisis. Although PR is indeed a valuable tool during a crisis, it’s not a good idea to call in the experts only following an incident. The key is preparation. Whether you’re a global company with thousands of employees or a small operation, proactively implementing a crisis management plan is paramount to minimise the risk of reputational damage should a situation occur. Ignoring the problem is the worst thing you can do, especially with social media and the potential for misinformation being widespread.

Ironically, PR has had some bad PR associated with “spin doctoring,” and therefore a lack of transparency and credibility. PR has also been accused of being superficial or “fluff” that boosts a business’s image without adding any value. A prime example of misinformation, as PR is much more than just managing a person’s or business’s image during a crisis. A lot of PR is proactive rather than reactive, showcasing a business’s growth and its people to its existing and potential customers as well as industry peers through planned content.

Understanding different PR strategies

To execute an effective B2B PR plan, start by defining target audiences and their preferred communication channels, even if that means doing a little research. The answers can be different to what you’ve been doing, so it’s worth checking!

Then develop a compelling content plan that highlights industry expertise and thought leadership before using media relations to secure coverage in relevant publications. 

PR can be broken down into four approaches:

  1. Paid: Where a fee is incurred to publish or partner with a media outlet or influencer. A business has greater control over its content but is less credible as the audience is aware it is paid.
  2. Earned: This is more time-consuming and doesn’t guarantee placement in a publication, but is extremely valuable as it is seen as more credible because it can’t be bought, only earned by providing valuable insight and opinions.
  3. Shared: This type of PR most commonly comes in the form of social media, such as a post from a customer about a product or event. There is little control over this format, but shared content demonstrates credibility if the sentiment is positive and audiences feel compelled to share their experience.
  4. Owned: This offers the most control for a business when it comes to publishing content, for example, on a blog or podcast. However, unless an organisation has a very high reputation, it should be supported by other forms of media.

Common forms of PR media:

  1. Press release: This can showcase an event or product launch to external audiences. It is often sent to media outlets for coverage in a newspaper or magazine (digital or print) and is usually time-sensitive.
  2. Feature article: Different from a news story, a feature article explores a news topic, event or trend in more detail from the perspective of an industry expert.
  3. Speaking opportunity: Being a keynote speaker or a panel guest speaking at an event is a fantastic way to showcase expertise and build trust and credibility.
  4. Events: Hosting an event takes a lot of organisation and preparation, but can be a great way to gather target audiences in one place, which is ideal for exclusive product launches.
  5. Comment: Responding to a news story promptly can position you and your brand as an expert leader within that topic.

The most important part of developing a PR strategy is ensuring it complements your communication and wider business goals. Content, PR, social media and web development should all work together to achieve an overall communications and business goal. 

Setting targets and tracking success in PR

You may have already set your sales, operations, and financial goals but what about your reputation goals? It’s important to measure the success of your PR strategy using SMART objectives – establishing goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Some examples of PR goals could be to:

  1. Achieve a 10% growth in website traffic from referrals within the next six months.
  2. Secure three pieces of earned media coverage with an opinion article from a key expert within the company on a topical news item over the next three months.
  3. Be Invited to speak at four industry events within the 12 months.

Going pro: When to consider a PR agency

Considering the significance of PR, you may be contemplating the practical steps for implementing a PR strategy. This task can be managed internally if equipped with the right team expertise. Nonetheless, there are considerable advantages to engaging the services of an external PR agency. 

A fresh perspective from an external source can uncover overlooked opportunities or newsworthy events. PR agencies also maintain daily engagement with the media and journalists, allowing them to cultivate extensive networks and secure broader exposure. Furthermore, enlisting the services of a PR agency can ignite creativity in a PR campaign or event, or simply find different approaches to communicate and engage with target audiences.

Ready to start your next PR campaign? Get in touch with one of The Marketing Pod’s award-winning PR experts.

N.B. The information contained in this entry is provided by the above supplier, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher

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