As someone who studied PR in college, I received a fair amount of confused comments regarding my major. “Oh yeah, sure, PR…what’s PR again?” or “You’re an HR major, right?” and the dreaded “So, what do you want to do with that?”
There’s a good amount of confusion surrounding PR, what it does, and why it’s important (especially in the B2B sphere).
Often wrongly portrayed in the media and movies as spinsters and spin doctors (not the awesome 90’s rock group though), public relations or PR serves a very important role in all organizations – nonprofits, B2B, B2C, government, etc.
The chief role of public relations is messaging. It speaks directly to the people — customers, editors, and more — to do just as the name implies. It relates (or speaks) to the public. Its job is not to confuse or dupe anyone, but to inform customers and humanize your brand.
So what, then, is the difference between B2B advertising, marketing and PR?
B2B advertising is paid. For example, you would pay to put your ad on a billboard, on Facebook, etc.
B2B marketing is designed to sell a product and nurture leads into customers. You may send them emails to try and draw them in. Marketing’s ultimate purpose is to sell something.
B2B PR is different. B2B public relations is “free,” as in you don’t have to pay money like you would for advertising. It’s designed to generate goodwill and to manage your organization’s image. Good PR is NOT spin. It’s not meant to manipulate, and it’s not disingenuous.
So what does public relations do in B2B?
In marketing, B2B public relations may involve creating content, such as blogs, articles and press releases. It’s responsible for image management. Often, social media accounts are handled by public relations specialists. In the regrettable case of a crisis or bad publicity, PR pros serve as liaisons with the public and news organizations.
In that way, they’re like the news outlet of a business or organization.
They can broadcast your message to the world and show just how unique your organization is! For example, if your organization just hosted a charity event and raised a record amount of money, isn’t that a reason to be proud of your organization? Shouldn’t your business share that?
Now in 2016 in B2B, your PR department can be especially valuable by producing blogs. Quality blog content can position your brand as a leader in the industry. As a secondary benefit, the blog posts can bolster your B2B SEO strategy.
By maintaining relationships with publication editors, the public relations department can secure placements for news and ads in publications, which lets the PR department be a mouthpiece for your organization.
For a final paper in a PR class, I was asked to define PR. My answer? “Betterment.” Public relations communicates to an audience, and the audience communicates back. Through this, the organization is able to benefit the audience and vice versa. Both sides benefit. In this way, PR is betterment.
In the end, however, public relations is one tactic in a B2B 360 program. Thinking integrated can make your B2B PR even more effective. If you’re want to learn more about advertising in conjunction with your B2B public relations, check out B2B Advertising Dead, Nope Not Even Close.
All marketing tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating all tactics, the programs become more effective and cost efficient. An Integrated marketing communication plan helps you meet real business objectives – generate leads, grow revenues, gain market share, and become the leading brand.