My take on getting B2B brands covered in the national media

The national media has long been seen as the holy grail of many a PR programme but often a thorn in the side for B2B PR agencies like us! While logic says that B2B audiences are best reached through highly targeted trade or professional publications, emotion screams “but I want to be in the papers!”

And why not? At the end of the day the national media is read by a cross section of people and you could argue that more of your niche audience will be picking up The Times or The Guardian than Plastics and Rubber Weekly! More to the point, gaining a link to your business website in a high domain authority online news site can do wonders for your SEO as well as your brand.

However, national media coverage is hard to come by – but even harder for obscure B2B brands that have little direct relevance back to the issues of the day. A good B2B PR agency will be able to help you achieve this goal – but they will also require your help, patience and willingness to step beyond the comforts of your core B2B PR programme.

Here are the five golden rules I’ve used over the years to gain national media coverage for my B2B clients.

  1. Think consumer – a large amount of what goes into national newspapers is about consumer trends and affairs. Even though you may be a B2B business, how does your product impact your customer’s customer – which could well be the man in the street? Make the link!
  2. Never give up – selling a story to the nationals can take time and far more effort than other B2B stories do. For one former client I persuaded them to analyse a massive volume of data so that we could sell it exclusively to one national publication. It took several months and about the same again to go from pitch to publication. However it resulted in a full page feature on page six of The Observer. Keep the faith!
  3. Work backwards – Don’t start with what you want to say as a business; start with where you want to gain coverage, then work out what it will take to create the right story. There are usually quite rigid boundaries to be followed to get a national journalist to bite on your story so there’s no point trying to shoehorn something created for a different job. Be bespoke.
  4. Focus on you – Unless they’re very exciting, innovative or truly disruptive, most B2B products and services aren’t going to interest a national media journalist. However, your own business challenges may well be interesting, especially for small business, enterprise or entrepreneurial sections and columns. There are many topical issues that get featured and if one of them is something you face as a business, then you could be a contender for coverage. Think problems.
  5. Look, listen and read – The national media agenda is shaped by what happens each day, so you need to know what’s happening each day. My personal ‘go to’ is Radio 4 on the way to work. It’s amazing how quickly you can train yourself to make lateral connections to your clients. When a big cyber breach happens, the media needs security experts. When a high street chain goes bust they need retail experts. When the government introduces new tax rules they need tax experts. You get the idea…

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