B2B Public Relations: Knowing Your Client’s Business
Often when people think about working in public relations, they imagine themselves staffing exclusive events and getting stories splashed on the cover of Rolling Stone and Vogue. Sometimes that is the case, particularly in the fashion, music and entertainment industries. But this is just one example of many PR activities that fall under the category of business-to-consumer, or B2C. These campaigns target very broad audiences in their attempt to reach the masses.
I used to work on this type of account and I always looked at the B2B (business-to-business) campaigns that my coworkers managed as dull and boring. While working on B2C campaigns I often dealt with “fun” content within industries that I did not find particularly complicated. Music and television had always been quite familiar to me.
The B2B companies on the other hand involved content that seemed complicated and technical, and I was hesitant to jump in. But with time that challenge arrived, and I suddenly found myself knee deep in terms like network function virtualization and zone control valves.
The main difference between consumer and B2B campaigns is that while the former is focused on reaching the masses, the latter is targeted toward specific people in organizations within specific industries. This target audience is composed of decision makers at companies that might have a need for a certain product or service.
In any campaign, be it B2C or B2B, it’s critical that you understand what outlets best reach your target audience. IT professionals, for example, want to keep up with the latest technologies that will allow their organizations to be more efficient. Meanwhile, airline executives may want to hear about new technology that keeps planes flying at a lower cost. The key is positioning your client’s brand and products the right way and highlighting their value to the market. A B2B campaign may involve promoting a new product or offering opinions on an important industry trend or issue.
To be able to do this, you must learn the trade and fully immerse yourself in the technical ins and outs of your client’s business. At first you might not know how aviation communications, IT management software or network switching devices work, for example, and it might be intimidating. But as a PR professional you’re not being asked to build the product, or even come up with ideas for a new one. Your job is to understand the product and the industry so that you can position your client in the best light in front of its stakeholders and prospective customers.
Although I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone of music and television at first, working on B2B has been extremely rewarding as I’ve learned some fascinating things about important and relevant technology. By doing my research and keeping up with industry trends, terms like software defined networking and application performance interface make up my every day lingo, and more importantly, I find them exciting and a pleasure to write about.