Behind the C-Suite: finding the human element in B2B communications

Cultivating a sense of who you are as a brand, what you stand for and how you connect with your audience should be the driving force behind every PR initiative, says Mylan Vu.

Mylan_Vu_HOTWIRE_8750 copyBrands are slowly turning away from the old school ‘churn and burn’ press office mentality of PR. As people become increasingly sceptical towards PR and its pervasive presence in society, brands need to adapt quickly if they are going to survive the current era of mistrust.

Gone are the days when brands could land a spread in a newspaper and be confident they’ve hit they’re target audience of ‘the C-Suite’. With the introduction of peer-to-peer sharing through the likes of Facebook and Instagram, it’s now almost impossible to measure how many sources of PR this priceless group of decision-makers access on any given day, and which they prefer and trust. According to a study by TapInfluence with Nielson Catalina Solutions, influencer marketing content delivers an ROI 11 times higher than traditional forms of digital marketing.

PR campaigns now need to turn to an audience-centric strategy, rather than focusing on the medium by which the message is delivered.

 

Prioritise your audience over your ego

Despite today’s age of information overload, people have more power than ever to stop listening to a brand. This means marketers need to work much harder and smarter to earn an audience’s interest.

This shift has led to the rising need for an ‘audience first, media second’ mentality when it comes to PR. For example, if you’re targeting new CEO’s, the types of brand messages they’ll embrace will be different to those who have been in their role for over a decade. Consequently, while a front-page newspaper spread may be ideal for your ego, it might actually be a niche blog for new leaders that would more effectively reach and influence your audience.

 

The human element

So, where is your C-suite? A CIO looking to migrate to the cloud reads tech mags to find the best solution, right? Not necessarily.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find a human element to that faceless ‘target audience’ that can open up a world of opportunity beyond the tried and tested media relations campaign.

In the B2B space, it’s increasingly hard to reach your target audience. Therefore, a blanket ‘one size fits all’ press office approach is not going to cut through the noise. Tailored, insight driven and creative PR campaigns will replace the ‘churn and burn’ press office. Especially when it comes to the rise of the millennial consumer turning traditional marketing tactics on their heads.

Saying your audience is an ‘IT decision maker’ is not enough. Building deeper insights about your audience is where you will find gold. Do they tend to have a gym membership? Are they Qantas frequent flyers? Do they work in the CBD? Do they spend their lunchtime on LinkedIn or Facebook? Build a profile of your audience beyond what magazines or newspapers they presumably read to optimise value from your PR program.

 

The role of the agency

The traditional press office will remain an integral part of PR for the foreseeable future, however brands looking for an audience-centric approach, will need to align themselves with agencies who hold this value themselves. An agency that measures themselves on value rather than volume will be the one to deliver the ‘a-ha’ moment when measuring ROI for your brand.

When looking for external PR, brands need to find agencies that are experts in communications and can add value beyond an in-house team’s capabilities. Innovative brands that want to keep up with the changing nature of PR should be looking for agencies that spend time up-front to ‘discover’ a brand and invest in research and strategy that goes beyond the traditional press office.

With media houses tightening their resource budgets, the media landscape is changing rapidly. In order to adapt, brands will have to let go of quantity-based performance measurement tools, and begin to see that quality and insightful connections with audiences are what will drive B2B PR into the future.

 

Mylan Vu is country manager at Hotwire.
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