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By Emily Frumberg

Public relations plays a significant role in the marketing mix for B2B companies. It can be utilized for different purposes in the changing media landscape. That’s why companies need to build a strong foundation and multi-pronged approach for PR success.

Here are our fundamentals to building a B2B program:

Competitive audit

It’s common knowledge that the better you know your competitors, the more likely you are to beat them. So, take the time to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Analyze their media coverage, target audiences and marketing initiatives to better understand what your company’s key differentiators are from the rest of the field. A thorough competitive audit can help remove blind spots and be a vital element to excelling in your industry.

Define your key target audiences

B2B purchasing decisions are much more complex than most consumer purchases, for B2B customers are more information-savvy and research-oriented when evaluating and making purchasing decisions for their companies. Since B2B purchases can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, it’s important to understand your key target audiences so that a clear strategy can be developed that is aligned with their needs and wants.

Define your brand’s DNA

You need to define your brand’s DNA—the building blocks of your brand identity. Creating the messaging is a complex process. It should help you determine the following:

Why: This is your elevator pitch. Why do you do what you do?
What: What’s your competitive positioning and core value proposition?
How: How does your product/service differ within your industry sector?
Who: Who are your key target audiences?
• And Why does all of this matter to your target audiences?

Messaging and Positioning

Once you have a clear idea of your brand’s DNA, it’s important to refine your messaging so it can accurately illustrate the value proposition and characteristics of your brand. You can now start collecting and creating content that will help your target market define it in the same terms.

Be upfront and explain who you and your team are. Showcase yourselves, explaining why you have the right team and the right product to address and solve the problem you are addressing. Also, explain why your key audiences should trust you.

What’s your differentiator? What are your selling points and advantages? Don’t be afraid to talk about other like-brands and similar projects. Further, don’t be afraid to benchmark your services and/or products against your competitors. Now’s not the time to be humble.

Establish a thought leadership platform

Thought leadership is the art of positioning your company and its people at the forefront of a specific industry. After all, your people are one of your most valuable PR assets. Leaders have in-depth knowledge, which they need to parlay to those in the need “to know.” As such, they need to become a much sought-after resource to media and potential clients, solidifying your brand with insight and authority.

Thought leaders engage prospects and customers in non-sales, industry-related conversations, and need to become a valued source for insights and commentary on the latest industry news and trends. By gaining the trust of prospective customers, these will turn to the thought leader when the time comes to making a purchase.

With that in mind, thought leadership is especially necessary for the B2B landscape. An effective thought leadership platform is a critical element for establishing credibility with prospects/customers, and it is an incredibly effective way to bridge trust between B2B businesses and prospects. Thought leadership can help prospects involved in the business decision-making process to gain alignment across their company regarding the problems they are facing — helping them “name” the solution. There is a myriad of ways to position your organization as a thought leader in the industry. This includes getting your name in the press, producing original research, speaking at industry events, and publishing content on your blog, as well as on social media.

READ MORE: How To Insert Your Expertise In A News Cycle

Production of original data

To produce original data, a company can conduct customer surveys or perform a more in-depth study with the help of a third party. This information is highly useful for reporters and, the more your research is published, the more credible prospects will view your organization. Further, providing research allows your organization to become a source of information and online content and further establish itself as a thought leader in its field.

Define your KPIs

As you build this foundation, it’s important to define your company’s KPIs (key performance indicators) early on. A valuable way to track the impact of your PR campaign is to establish key metrics that reveal campaign performance (in relation to your overarching PR goals). Key metrics must be clear and measurable, such as website traffic gained from PR efforts, Share of Voice, conversion rates on website landing pages, and social media engagement. There are many tools to help measure success and impact; however, KPIs must be decided on a per-client basis. KPIs depend on what is involved in each client’s communications platform, as well as the goals of the campaign. Determining the right KPIs can help you illustrate the value of your PR to the rest of organization.  In contrast, having the wrong KPIs can undersell and misrepresent the actual effectiveness of your campaign efforts.