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B2B Marketing Sales Leads Launches!

October 2, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Noted Demand Generation Expert Jeff Ogden and Award-Winning PR Veteran Wendy Marx Launch B2B Marketing Sales Leads

Trumbull, CT, October 2, 2012 – Jeff Ogden, noted demand generation expert, and award-winning B2B PR maven Wendy Marx have teamed up to create B2B Marketing Sales Leads, a unique 90- day consultancy guaranteed to drive marketing ROI through an integrated demand generation program.

B2B Marketing Sales Leads is a two-part program. The first part focuses on driving traffic to a landing page through a hub-and-spoke approach using multichannel content created by B2B content marketing experts. The second part of the program is a sales qualification process. Leads are nurtured through an email campaign and scored for readiness to buy. You receive warm, qualified leads for conversion.

With B2B Marketing Sales Leads, you can:

  • Confidently Generate Qualified Leads: The custom-designed hub-and-spoke model ensures you get leads within 90 days. If you are not happy with the program, you can get a full refund within 30 days.
  • Easily Qualify Leads: The lead nurturing program lets you focus on the most profitable leads.
  • Intelligently Fulfill Leads: You receive a hierarchy of warm, qualified leads for faster conversion.

About B2B Marketing Sales Leads

Ogden, creator of Find New Customers, was named one of the 50 most influential people in lead management in 2011 by The Sales Lead Management Association. In addition, Ogden’s blog, Fearless Competitor. was named the #1 B2B Blog of 2012 by BuyerZone. Marx, founder of Marx Communications, an award-winning PR and marketing communications agency, is an expert blogger on B2B PR and marketing best practices forFast Company and was named to the Nifty Fifty Top Women of Twitter in 2011.

To learn more, please visit http://b2bmarketingsalesleads.com/

B2B Marketing Sales Leads is a guaranteed step-by-step approach that ties marketing to sales leads. Structured around a single-issue call to action, it guarantees generation of sales leads within 30 days. It can transform your business into a lead machine through a coordinated campaign that combines social media, press releases, email marketing, websites, pay-per-click ads, blog posts and other contributed content.

B2B Marketing Sales Leads is integrated with all major marketing automation programs such as Marketo, Eloqua, and Act-On Software. It can also be integrated with Salesforce.com for companies that are not currently using marketing automation.

“I’m tired of boring websites, crappy content, and mind-numbing ‘me, me, me’ product information, and I bet you are too,” said Ogden. “Unfortunately, prospective buyers are bored too, which is why salespeople lack enough qualified leads to make quota. B2B Marketing Sales Leads helps small- to mid-sized businesses implement and deploy world-class lead generation programs.”

“Doing random acts of marketing – a bunch of strung-together marketing tactics without a plan or focus – is a recipe for disaster,” said Marx. “It wastes money and time, and it fails to generate the sales opportunities your people really need. Our Hub and Spoke approach is highly focused, helping you identify that one key pain to address, that one market segment to target, and that one call to action that delivers an effective solution.”

Contact B2B Marketing Sales Leads by visitinghttp://www.b2bmarketingsalesleads.com or send an email to info at b2bmarketingsalesleads.com.

About Find New Customers

Find New Customers was founded by Jeff Ogden in 2009 to address the growing needs of salespeople to change the ways they attract, engage and win new customers. Since then, it has helped companies such as Keyedin, Protegrity and others to develop and implement world-class demand generation programs. Find New Customers has also done professional content development for Marketo, Genius.com, Aplicor and Silverpop. Ogden is the creator and host of Marketing Made Simple TV. To learn more, visithttp://findnewcustomers.com and sign up there for free weekly marketing tips.

About Marx Communications

Marx Communications is made up of B2B PR specialists that help companies craft the right message, cutting through the multichannel clutter so it can be heard clearly by a receptive audience. Founder Wendy Marx, winner of two regional Gold Mercury awards from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), helps companies and executives grow their thought leadership as they grow their sales. Over her career, she has helped numerous B2B startups to become well-known industry brands, including marketing gurus Peppers & Rogers Group and TheStreet.com’s equity research shop. Her firm’s clients are regularly interviewed by CNBC, Barron’sThe New York Times, The Wall Street JournalBloomberg BusinessWeek and other major media worldwide.  To learn more, visithttp://www.marxcommunications.com 

Filed Under: b2b marketing, B2B PR, Blog | Leave a Comment

Changes in the B2B PR Landscape and How to Adapt

September 19, 2012 by Wendy Marx

The balance of power in B2B PR has changed. The media, though still influential, no longer controls everything. Since the B2B public relations field is constantly changing and adapting, we will be posting on B2B PR best practices and the transforming face of the industry.

The initial post on this topic is an interview with Brian Kardon, CMO of Lattice Engines. Kardon joined this company in June following an extremely successful 4-year stint at Eloqua. During this time, he was instrumental in helping grow the company from $20 million to $70 million in annual revenue. Before working at Eloqua, Brian was the Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Forrester Research. He performed the same, phenomenal feat there: he helped to more than triple their revenue in 5 years.

WENDY MARX: What’s your primary goal in regards to public relations?
BRIAN KARDON: Each market contains a unique ecosystem of influencers. The PR programs I’ve managed sort the influencers into separate tiers. We design a communication program for each tier that is specific to that group–-frequency of communication, method (face-to-face, email, video conference, etc.), and messages. Contrary to popular belief, all influencers are not made equal. Therefore, one must treat them differently. The elite tier might receive a monthly call from the CEO or myself, along with regular, face-to-face meeting. The next tier might get quarterly, videochat briefings and a monthly email.

It’s absolutely crucial to continue engaging with influencers, whether you need help at the moment or not. I’ve watched a multitude of PR pros pitch ideas to folks who they hadn’t “warmed up” for a period of time beforehand.

In the past, influencers were a quite concentrated group. Nowadays, just about anyone can become an influencer. All they need is a well-read industry blog, newsletter, conference, or consultancy. In the tech field, the utter dominance of Forrester, IDC, and Gartner has been worn down by new powerhouses like Altimeter and Constellation.

Do you view B2B public relations as a lead generation tool?
I never use PR to generate leads, at least not intentionally. I utilize public relations to grow awareness, alter perceptions, and build the top of the funnel. I come from an extremely metrics-driven background–at Forrester, Eloqua, and now Lattice Engines. We measure PR in numerous of ways, but rarely from a lead generation perspective.

Can you mention a few methods you use for PR measurement?
Are there any ways we DON’T measure PR? I review web traffic, amount of inbound links, ratio of new to repeat visitors, branded searches, followers, fans, tweets, retweets, comments on posts, likes… and more. In my experience, the most important aspect is being consistent with what you measure. Using identical metrics over an extended period of time in a consistent way, you gain insight into patterns and trends that indicate what works and what doesn’t.

You should be using measurement to learn, not to point fingers. I’ve honestly learned more from mistakes than from success. The entire PR team must embrace the idea of continuous learning.

In addition, it’s vital to return to overall PR goals. This will vary with each company and campaign. Sometimes the goal might be to raise awareness, other times it could be changing perceptions in a certain way. It’s important to be able to link measurements to the goal at hand.

In your mind, what is the largest change and opportunity today in B2B public relations?
It’s tough to think of another profession that has changed this much in the last decade! A brand is what Google says it is. Press releases are fashioned for organic search purposes. PR is a real-time business. Newsjacking is commonly used as a method of boosting attention. News cycles are often measured in minutes and hours — not days. There’s a completely new technology-based backbone to PR–to communicate, monitor, measure and find opportunities. Posts in blogs effectively function as “link bait” for those linked to the posts. B2B PR pros must all be “in the know” and technically astute in order to survive.

Many of these changes have positive implications. There has never been a better opportunity to interact with influencers than now. You don’t have to get someone to a meeting or on the phone to engage. A tweet, leaving a comment on a blog, a DM, posting or sharing photos and videos are now all ways to start conversations. It’s definitely a two-way street. The most successful folks in PR know how to assist the media and influencers in making a connection or composing a story. They give key, timely info to the proper person in order to build lasting, long-term relationships.

How do you combine your PR efforts with marketing and/or social media?
Collaboration amongst the entire marketing team is crucial to success.
I advise against viewing the agency as a vendor. Instead, they are very much a team member and should be treated as such.

Campaigns need to be spread throughout as many channels as possible. A bright idea can be successful via social, email and live channels. Also, don’t forget about that infographic, video and interview. Connect with influencers using exclusives in ways that personalize the campaign for their specific audience. Tear down the walls separating the compartments of your marketing organization.

What have you learned at Eloqua that you can apply to Lattice Engines?
I learned several truly important lessons:

  • Our agencies were partners at Eloqua. Especially Jess3 (data visualization) and Shift (PR). They helped us conceptualize ideas and construct the marketing framework for them. You have to coax the best work out of your partners. Encourage them. Try something new. Take some chances. Back up your agencies even when complications arise. Really get to know them as people.
  • Go out of your way for your influencers. Make sure you give them credit. Compliment them. Never make negative comments about your company or products. Always be honest and willing to assist.
  • You should have a steller team that can work in real-time and eat digital media for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s not easy to find such a team. Once you have one, do whatever you can to help them grow and learn.
  • Always be open to trying something new. The field is constantly shifting — you don’t want to miss out on any new opportunities. Were you an early adopter of Pinterest? Are you utilizing social sign-on for registration? Is your LinkedIn and Facebook presence optimized?

Can you give an example of effectively feeding an influencer?
There is no better way to develop a relationship than to actually work with an influencer. At Eloqua, our VP of Content Marketing, Joe Chernov, found 20 key influencers for our Social Media ProBook. We asked each for contributions. In return, we gave each contributor his/her own personalized avatar illustration that the contributor could use as a profile picture. This was an amazing, collaborative learning experience, plus it was tons of fun. The contributors not only gave us some exciting content, but also were quite generous by tweeting and blogging about the project. This coverage was worth almost as much as the content they contributed!

This post originally appeared in a slightly different form on www.FastCompany.com

Filed Under: B2B PR, Blog, Insights | Leave a Comment

5 Tactics to Maximize ROI of your B2B Public Relations

August 13, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Here’s a pop quiz –

Which B2B marketing technique allows you to become better known, enhances credibility, thought leadership and finally boosts sales?

If your answer was “public relations,”  give yourself a pat on the back!

For a long time now, PR has been sometimes viewed as a revenue-earning step-child since it’s tough to categorize. Of course one can always total press clippings, but how does that ultimately drive sales? It’s tough because there doesn’t seem to be a direct correspondence. How about the person who saw an article praising your product/service, and several months later decided to use it? Or what about all the folks with no recollection how they heard about you but somehow know about your product or service?

Okay then, should we just give up trying to tie public relations to sales?

Well, not if you’d like to get extra work from your PR campaign by also using it as a lead generation device.

Consider your press release to be an invitation for a potential client to take an action that brings this person closer to buying. For instance, you can include a call to action in your release that brings the prospect to your landing page. From there, the prospect is able to download “free” content after giving you some contact information. Congratulations, you’ve now started a dialog! Now without further ado, here are….

5 approaches to PR you can use in your B2B marketing efforts to bring in sales:

 


1. Refuse to Use Generic Press Releases

Although Press releases are a fundamental part of public relations, you still need more than just any old press release – you need a specific strategy.

Your release should complement your marketing efforts. It would be completely ineffective to write a generic press release intended only for distribution. You need to think: What am I trying to achieve with this release? What action do I want the reader to take after he/she sees the release?

2. Take Advantage of Multimedia

Get the most B2B marketing value possible in regards to click-throughs and lead generation. Colorful, engaging (and maybe even interactive) multimedia content like slide shows and videos enhance the effectiveness of your call to action. You can experiment to find out which type of dynamic content would best reach your target market.

3. Provide Readers With Extra Content

Don’t view the release as a one-time shot. Utilize it along with additional content for your target market. Ensure your release leads to other pages, blog posts, articles, videos, or anything else you can think of. All of the above can similarly link to your press release. As an added benefit, this will also help your company get ranked higher in the search engines.

The purpose for this sophisticated “web of content” is to connect with your potential clients and bring them into your sales funnel. The sales process has become a quite complicated and multi-layered process, and as Reevoo Insight has discovered, customers can come in at a variety of touch points and change from one channel to the a different one before the final conversion.

4. Get Social

If you have yet to incorporate social media into your B2B marketing strategy – time to get started! Social media is becoming increasingly omnipresent. It can be used together with pretty much all of your initial marketing strategies, press releases included.

Make it a piece of cake for anyone to share your release by including some social sharing buttons. Finally, remember to include a short synopsis of your release so it can be easily spread by fans without much effort.

5. Shoot for Specifics

Don’t sit back and relax after one press release.  Continue to test your releases and change them depending on your target market and the response you receive. Certain calls to action might produce different effects on a given segment of your audience. This also applies to content. For instance, you might decide to emphasize one point in a release geared to executives and a different one when targeting agencies.

Throw everything together and you have a public relations program that will significantly boost the ROI of your B2B marketing campaign.

Now how are you increasing the value of your press releases? Have you been using any of the above techniques already? Are there other ones you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, B2B PR, Blog, Insights, Press Releases | Leave a Comment

How to Avoid 5 Common Mistakes in B2B Content Marketing

July 5, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Here are 5 other mistakes B2B content marketers often make. Read on if you want some pointers on how to avoid these bloopers!

1. Curating content in areas you don’t care about. 

If you’re in marketing, why curate content in music or some other unrelated field? You’re certainly not establishing your expertise.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the most outlandish Tweeter or the most prolific blogger: an important way to grow your thought leadership can be through adding your perspective to someone else’s content. Readers will appreciate having an expert comment on other articles, helping them determine the value of popular ideas. Businesspeople will appreciate your thoughtfulness and expertise. They will remember that they learned from you and that you didn’t waste their time.

2. Forgetting to use backlinks.

Content marketing is all about engagement. What makes the web so perfect for that is that you can — and should — include links to related content in your posts. That way you’ll be able to alert relevant content marketers about your content. They in turn will start linking to your posts and before you know it you will have a conversation going within your content.

3. Link Back to Your Own Site

This part is crucial. Not only do you have to attract your potential clients with a message, but you also need to give them a medium they can use to respond. Your best content should call potential clients to action, but you also have to provide a way for them to act! Link back to your site, which will provide readers with more content as well as ways to respond (also be sure to have accessible contact information, query forms, etc.). Remember that social media is a cycle:  you broadcast your original content to a larger audience with the aim of inspiring them to return to the source – your website!

4. Forgetting to promote your content.

Don’t think your job ends with writing and incorporating the right keywords in your site. You want to promote your content in social media and all your marketing materials. Include a catchy headline and link to it in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or whatever your social media channel of choices are. Include a link to your blog in your email signature, on your business card and in your marketing collateral.
Time and clarity are of the essence in the realm of social media. Focus on the key benefit in your content, and cite that with a link that will take readers to a more elaborate release and a call to action. Make sure you are targeting the right audience for your message, and even tailor several different releases for different outlets. You want to appear competent and informative to as many different groups as possible, so tailor your message to match their needs.

5. Neglecting to build a social network.

Whether its through blog subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook friend, or LinkedIn Connections, cultivating a community is almost as important as cultivating your message in B2B Public Relations. And even on the web, the principles of maintaining relationships stay the same – it takes time to make meaningful connections. In addition to updating your own content frequently, be sure to respond to commenters, read and respond to what those in your network are up to, and send messages to them when appropriate. They will remember that you cared and demonstrated interest in their objectives, which sometimes is more important than being the top expert in your field or the most visible on social media.

 And here’s a bonus idea!

6. Stay Open to New Ideas
Don’t fear tech updates or new social media platforms. Nothing stays the same forever! Just look at how radio and television have been affected by the digital age. Stay fresh, and keep thinking of how new developments can help promote your message.

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, B2B PR | Leave a Comment

10 Common Mistakes In B2B Content Marketing

June 13, 2012 by Wendy Marx

 

 

 

Like any form of marketing, B2B content marketing succeeds or fails based on how well it’s implemented. If B2B content marketing is done well, it can lead you to vastly increased numbers of pageviews, leads and, ultimately, sales. Done poorly though it’s just a waste of time and energy that will only hurt your bottom line.

If you want some pointers on effective content marketing, read on for some mistakes I often see businesses make!

This is a two-part post. I will post 5 more mistakes next week.

 

Here are the first 5 Common Mistakes In B2B Content Marketing:

1) Lacking a grand strategy.

Content marketing is just one tool in your overall Internet marketing toolbox. It’s all too easy for a well-meaning manager to read articles about how two-thirds of businesses are blogging and immediately jump onboard without considering his larger strategy. A blog is good for communicating with customers, it’s true, but it’s also effective for leveraging keywords, boosting SEO, and integrating link-building strategies.

You should have a plan in place for why you’re engaging in content marketing, and how it advances all of your marketing goals. Not having a plan will leave it unfocused and ineffective.

2) Focusing on the company rather than the customers.

It’s easy to get into an “it’s all about me” mindset when engaging in B2B content marketing. You undoubtedly love talking about your products, and that’s fine, but you can’t focus solely on yourself. Content marketing is fundamentally about providing value to the people viewing the content. By all means, if you have a cool production process, make a “how we work” video showing your work behind the scenes. Doing it nonstop, however, just makes it a tedious sales pitch.

The key is moderation. Strike a balance between self-promotion and putting out content people will genuinely find useful or interesting.

3) Getting obnoxious with keywords.

Keyword strategies in online marketing is a fine balancing act. On one hand, you want those keywords to help drive search users to your site, but you can’t forget that successful content marketing requires making content that people want to view. Keywords should be integrated into your text as naturally as possible, and without making it feel like the only purpose for the content is to serve as a vehicle for spamming those keywords over and over.

Just ask yourself: “Is this something I would want to read?” If not, it probably needs some work.

4) Forgetting internal links.

Internal links within your content to other parts of your site are a great way to boost the effectiveness of your content marketing. This actually serves multiple purposes, which is why it’s such a valuable technique:

An array of internal links tend to encourage search engine spiders to spend more time on your site. (A sitemap helps with this as well.)

It encourages visitors to view more of your content. Fundamentally, the longer they look at your site, the more likely they are to convert into leads.

It establishes you as an authority in your field, boosting your credibility.

5) Not updating constantly.

For content marketing to work, you have to stick with it. In many ways, having a blog with a handful of posts that hasn’t been updated in six months is worse than having no blog at all. It makes it appear that you won’t finish what you start, or that you’re lackadaisical in your approach to marketing.

A constant flow of new content encourages people to return while also ensuring that Google considers your website “active,” increasing search spider indexing.

So, what major B2B content marketing mistakes have you seen, and how could they be avoided? Let us know!

Filed Under: B2B PR | Leave a Comment

10 Simple Strategies To Boost Your B2B PR Campaign

May 25, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Pop quiz: What would you say is the desired outcome of a B2B PR campaign?

Nine out of ten times, a business looking for PR considers results to be quotes in the press, and a level of success is judged by the prestige of the publication. The head of a company, for instance, expects to see himself or herself quoted  in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or the #1 trade publication in the corporation’s field. The executive might also like to get a little bit of  social media spotlight as well.

Although there’s certainly no problem with any of the above, it’s simply an incomplete understanding of B2B PR. Arranging for the CEO to be mentioned in the Times or praised in a trade publication does not mean that you, as a PR professional, can hang your hat. It also of course may be all wrong for a particular type of business.

I’ll explain.

B2B PR is commonly thought of as being all about news placements.

In truth, media coverage is merely a part of the B2B PR formula. If that’s as far as you go, you will be turning a blind-eye to all the extras that come afterwards, plus everything else you could have done. What am I talking about? There’s social media (an entire field in itself), videos, content marketing, contests/sweepstakes, polls, blogs, and much more. Then let us not forget the fact that big name news sources may not even be optimal for a company. To illustrate, if a business seeks clients in only one or a couple states (with no intention of expanding), regional media coverage could be far more effective – and easier to land. Simply put, you must focus on where your audience lies.

This brings me to the next point. In order for PR results to truly be powerful, they should be merchandised.

What does this mean exactly?

It means publicizing any and all press you obtain. A crucial element of a successful PR campaign is expanding the reach and frequency of your media coverage. That’s right, you’ve got to put on your marketing hat and personally get your media in front of your readers’/viewers’ eyes. Here are 10 methods to accomplish that:

  1. Circulate your own press. Simply display the link along with a brief summary of any articles you’ve gotten on your website, including your home page. This can be anywhere from one sentence to one paragraph. This is the most basic thing you can do. Yet it never ceases to amaze me when B2B companies neglect to do this. However, if you weren’t able to get any articles published, no need to fear. You can always post the articles on your website and promote those.  Which leads to the next point…
  2. Promote your press in your blog. Touch on the topic you were quoted on in a blog post and be sure to include a link to your coverage.
  3. Mention your press in a newsletter to clients and prospects. Don’t have a newsletter? No worries. You can always write an email to keep your clients (and prospects) updated on what you’ve been doing. You should reference your press coverage there.
  4. Include links to the press in your signature line. Simple and effective.
  5. Spread the word via social media with links to your articles placed on social media sites like Twitter,, Facebook, Google+, etc.
  6. Begin discussions on your blog or LinkedIn group about the topic you were quoted on (and be sure to include a link to your article).
  7. State that you’ve been quoted in the press in your personal bio and/or company about us section.
  8. Obtain copies of the article you’ve been quoted in and add this to your press kit. Believe it or not, old fashioned hard copies can still be used (although electronic versions also work).
  9. Rework an article to function as an abstract for a speaking proposal.
  10. Use screenshots of articles in a video about your company or for sales presentations. You may want to highlight your quote here.

Now it’s your turn! Please feel free to share your ideas on expanding a PR campaign.

Filed Under: B2B PR, Blog | 13 Comments

Learn Deloitte’s B2B Digital Marketing Secrets

April 30, 2012 by Wendy Marx

 

If you haven’t already heard, a gradual revolution is taking place in B2B digital marketing, especially regarding the professional services arena.

Earlier, the focal point of the B2B digital universe centered around the website. All B2B marketers had but one goal: Do whatever was necessary to bring folks back to the main website. Yet nowadays, the online world has undergone a change. A brand new game is being played that revolves around the customer (as opposed to the company). Multi-channel marketing, from iphones to tablets to video clips, has shifted the epicenter of the digital universe off the old standby — the website — and on to the individual customers instead. The current mantra is: Be interesting, dynamic and discoverable wherever your customers are.

One company at the forefront of multi-channel marketing is Deloitte. One metric succinctly tells the story: Since starting video podcasts–brief interviews with thought leaders–one year ago, Deloitte noticed that every video is downloaded roughly 3,000 times. Quite a difference when compared with 1,000 average downloads per white paper. The advantages are especially striking when you take into account the fact that videos can take 1/12 of the time it would take to produce  a white paper. The videos have actually become so successful that Deloitte releases a new one every week.

I interviewed two Deloitte digital marketing executives: Jennifer Chico, Director of Internet Marketing, and Kelly Nelson, Marketing Leader, Deloitte Analytics. Here are some tips from their experience at Deloitte.

WENDY MARX: Tell us about your new digital marketing model.

JENNIFER CHICO: We’re changing from the old fashioned, “hub and spokes” to an entanglement model. If you imagine a wheel, it used to be that our website was in the center, and the spokes included email-marketing, Google advertising, and other strategies to bring traffic back to the website. Today, we’re shifting more towards an entanglement model. This model needs us to be relevant and discoverable across a wide array of different channels. With that being said, Deloitte.com is still the basic home base for digital strategy, but it’s no longer everything. We have to be where the customers is, be interesting, and most importantly — easy to find.

How does your new, dynamic relationship with the customer influence content?

KELLY NELSON: We’re taking tips from B2C companies — the content is usually short, sweet, and gets right to the point. There’s also a focus on benefits, and consumers are addressed in a familiar, recognizable way. In previous times, we used to began the white paper with a big piece of thought leadership. We thought, “Why don’t we flip it around? Instead of starting with the with the big thing, let’s begin with the seed, the small idea.” Many people simply aren’t interested in reading a dense, twenty page document. Now we begin with smaller sections, like our three-minute guides. Afterwards, we take a look at the results and see where the interest lies; if there appears to be tons of interest in a certain topic, we’ll go into more depth with it.

What other approaches are you taking with content?

NELSON: Good question. We’re going with a blog-like approach. We post conversational-style content and can be about anything from analytics about talent to supply chain management. It’s brief–roughly two paragraphs or less–and emphasizes the conversation more than omnipotent “thought leadership”. The consumer needs to see you as an approachable friend they would turn to for advice. For instance, “here’s a couple of things to think about when thinking about tax season.”

What exactly do you measure?

CHICO: Here is what we examine to measure our effectiveness: The awareness and engagement we’re driving, the volume and reach, the amount of engagement we’ve stirred up from various outlets–are we having a give and take conversation ? Have we improved on the conversation rate? Have we sparked action? Did they subscribe to something? Download anything? View a podcast? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, we know our efforts are having their desired result.

Did you join the B2B digital revolution? I would love to hear what you’re doing — please share!

Wendy Marx, B2B PR & Marketing Specialist, Marx Communications. Follow me on Twitter @wendymarx.

Filed Under: B2B PR, Blog | 2 Comments

Why PR Professionals should never “go off the record”

March 30, 2012 by Wendy Marx

 

In today’s digital age, the tendency to fess up is akin to getting a second helping of desert. No one plans on it, but everyone does it. Therefore, it comes as a surprise that an old fashioned term like “off the record” still means something.

Take an example from the last presidential election. Samantha Power, one of Obama’s advisors, referred to Hillary Clinton as a “monster” while being interviewed by a Scottish reporter.  She had supposedly gone off the record but only after she had disparaged Clinton. Unfortunately for her, Power forgot the most important aspect of the “off the record” rule: first, establish some ground rules. With that being said, many of the U.S. journalism establishments were outraged at the incident. They felt that a journalist must abide by an “off the record” request, even if it were given later. “Off the record,” refers to the traditional practice in journalism where select information can’t be printed or attributed to the interviewee. It’s occasionally confused with talking on background (providing info which can be printed without a requirement for attribution).

Although a good amount of journalists accept these three little words, PR professionals are largely put off by the phrase. This is due to the fact that many of us have been burned by it. PR coordinator Timothy Vassilakos puts it nicely: “Off the record exists until you get burned once.”

As many PR pros have noticed (take a look at the interesting conversation on LinkedIn about this topic), there’s an implicit debate between the journalists and the PR professionals. Journalists, or at least the driven, stop-at-nothing-to-get-the-story ones, see themselves as truth seekers. They go to great lengths to unearth the “real story”, not the superficial, glossy one. In comparison, PR folks are most interested in looks, branding, and building relationships. In other words, they want to put their client in the most favorable light without lying. Think of it like this: Journalists want to yank the toupee off, so to speak; the PR person wants to stick it back on.

Yet bear in mind that there are always complications and fuzzy, grey areas. From our experience in the B2B PR field, off the record generally works if you have a good relationship with the reporter and can really trust him or her. Ultimately though, you are always taking a risk that your “off the record” statements may end up in print.

Ed Shapson, PR professional, asserts that, “It’s a mighty big gamble. You don’t want to see some statement printed in tomorrow’s newspaper or aired on the evening news? Then don’t make it!” Well put, Ed.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “why do it?” In addition to the human tendency to want to spill the beans, it can also function as a method of building relationships with reporters. However, as Cosmin Patlagenurisks remarks in the conversation on LinkedIn, there are much better ways to develop relationships: “Keep your word, deliver on time, say you can’t when you can’t, be there when you’re needed.”

Here are a few questions to think about as you consider going off the record:

  • What’s might occur if the reporter fails to honor your off-the-record request and prints it instead? What could the consequences be?
  • What (if anything) are you gaining by going off the record?
  • Did you purposefully set the ground rules? In other words, did you define “off the record” and what that entails? I say this because a reporter from The New York Times recently proposed a different definition of off the record than the commonly accepted one.

You may see what I’m trying get at here. Unless you have an excellent reason for going “off the record” — and you’re absolutely positive you can trust the journalist – it may be wiser to keep your lips sealed. Remaining silent is the safest approach to guarantee that your private thoughts won’t be discovered by the general public.

Do you agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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3 B2B Public Relations Mistakes and How to Salvage Them

February 29, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Public relations, sometimes to its disadvantage, is mistaken for advertising. Although the two share certain similarities – they are in many respects completely different. Public relations, at least in regards to B2B, is centered around credibility, education, and thought leadership. Admittedly, it’s still about self-promotion, but accomplished in a way that boosts credibility.

#1 Mistake: For instance, claiming that you’re releasing a new product that will revolutionize the industry is usually worthless from a PR point of view (unless of course you are on a Steve Jobs level or engineered something like a cure for cancer)–not to mention not extremely believable. You would be much better served on the other hand, by discussing what’s meaningful to your customers. What are their wants and needs? What problems do they have that haven’t yet been solved? That makes what you’re doing real, accessible, and most importantly — useful.

But hold on a sec.

#2 Mistake: B2B companies in our experience tend to over-play products to the exclusion of expertise. Products can best be promoted with product sheets, advertising and demos, and finally lavished with awards.

#3 Mistake:  This one is crucial. Especially if you’re included in the broad territory of B2B small and mid-size companies, the media (and bloggers) could care less about the next version of your product — especially if it only includes a couple minor tweaks. That has the same effect as if you were to claim that you invented air. It’s meaningless to everyone except you.

The only thing customers and potential clients want to know is how your product can help them. Will it make their life easier? Will it save them time and money? Bring in more profits? Can you help them solve key problems or make them smarter?

In that respect, here are five tips to help make you more appealing to your customers and ultimately the media:

  1. Make regular blog posts about your particular area of expertise and only mention your new product as a side-note. End your post with a call to action about your product or service. Remember to link your post to various social media outlets. Oh, and don’t mention your product/service in every post! This comes off as too “salesy”.
  2. Issue a white paper about an industry problem your product helps address. Don’t make it entirely about your product. Instead, focus on the industry challenges aspect. Also, make sure it’s easy to share with social media.
  3. Poll clients about an issue your product addresses and post the results of your poll in various social media platforms.
  4. Put together a short video describing the challenges your product helps solve (again,  focus more on the issues, not on your product) and link this to your white paper at the end of the video. Post this video your website, YouTube, and post a link to this on as many social media sites as possible (noticing a pattern?!).
  5. Issue an interesting facts-sheet that includes industry challenges your product helps to address. Be sure to include some major issues. Once again, focus on the challenges, not your product.

A Poster Child for B2B PR

In the B2B space, one company doing an excellent job is Deloitte. True, they are certainly a large corporation, but smaller companies can still learn from them. For instance, take a glance at their analytics page. It serves as a model for what B2B companies should strive to acheive online. It contains everything, including videos, debates, engagement, white papers, as well as a short ebook. The page also makes it a piece of cake to share all its content on social media and interact with the company on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and its website. Here’s to you, Deloitte!

Do you have other great examples of companies (or their work) for B2B PR? I would love to hear your thoughts…

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form on Fastcompany.com

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How Do You Adapt PR For a Mobile World?

January 25, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Old habits die hard. This is what sprung to mind while I was recently talking to David Meerman Scott, PR guru, author, and consultant who more than anyone has helped PR evolve in the 21st century.

While everyone’s business has had to change in this 24/7 always-on, mobile world, we as PR practioners (and here I am as guilty as anyone!) often release news according to our schedule and timing, not that of the media. Like gladhanding politicians, we knock on journalists’ virtual door fronts with our campaign literature (that is news releases) in hand, asking the media to endorse us by writing our story–not their story.

Scott asks a basic but also profound question: What if you reverse the equation? What if instead of reaching out to journalists on your schedule, you get them to find you? Fortunately, digital devices, including mobile, have made it easy for reporters to find sources. And that source might as well be you. One of the best ways to do that is to mash up mobile with social media to concoct a timely, enticing brew that will be quaffed by journalists. Or as Scott calls it, you can “newsjack,” commenting on a breaking story in a way that journalists will find you.

“It’s really a matter of understanding that we live in a 24-hour real-time world,” says Scott. “Reporters can be working at home, on the road, on their iPhone when they are at a baseball game. You can reach them any time. You need to create content optimized for their devices so that reporters will find that when they are writing a story.”

Here are 5 ways Scott recommends doing just that:

  1. Write for mobile. Index your site for the mobile search engines so people can find your content on their mobile devices. Make your content visible on the small screen.
  2. Monitor keywords and phrases on Twitter so you are on top of the news and trends in your industry.
  3. Spot regulatory changes in your industry so you can comment in real time on Twitter about those changes.
  4. Create content and comment in real time via a blog, media alert and/or Twitter when news is breaking so media will find you .
  5. Construct today’s version of the that old standby, the press kit–a mobile app with a feed of content  optimized in an application for reporters that includes press releases, blog posts, video, and Twitter feeds. Here is a link to David’s app.

Since no good list is complete without a “NOT to DO,” piece of advice, here is one caveat:

Don’t use all the new technology as an invitation to spam reporters on their mobile phone or Twitter feed. Don’t send that uninvited text message. It will likely backfire.

We, as PR practitioners, need to be as nimble and quick as a reporter or blogger on deadline and be anywhere they are likely to find you–on mobile, on social media, on a blog, on video. All you need to do is seize the opportunity. How are you adapting PR for a mobile world?

 

Filed Under: B2B PR, Blog, mobile | 2 Comments