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B2B Marketing, B2B PR, Guides and advice

Great B2B PR is all about good old lateral thinking

I recently held a training workshop for the Skout team all about creating and pitching stories from scratch. In B2B PR agencies are jostling with each other to get their clients into some pretty tough media. In the face of stiff competition we passionately believe that topical, original, and authentic storylines are the best route to success. As I’ve said in previous blogs, marketing content for Owned, Paid and Shared channels is often out of kilter with the needs of Earned media. This channel requires a different mindset – casting the net wider to look at ways of making a brand relevant to the news agenda of the publications you want to be in. The team workshop went down well, and they encouraged me to share the basics in a blog. So here it is.

First, know your sources

Understand what sources of information you have, to find the ideas and story sparks you need. I break this into three groups:

The brand/business

The business holds loads of information, data, anecdotes and knowledge but doesn’t always realise what is the basis for a good media story. Our job is to have the right conversations with the right people within our clients to uncover these and then develop them. Two of the ways we do this are through regular story foraging sessions, and by improving our ability to listen and spot ideas during conversations in meetings.

Other people and organisations

Your business may have given you the story spark but often you need other inputs to make it grow. The media often want multiple perspectives and good PR people will seek these out to create a balanced idea with better chances of being jumped on by the journalist. One way we do this by looking for symbiotic relationships where other organisations could also benefit from being included in the story.

What’s going on in the world?

In B2B PR it is easy to think we don’t have ‘wider world’ relevance. After all, we’re not talking to consumers – right? In reality, everything ends with the consumer, citizen, or worker, and I challenge B2B PR people to find the link, however tenuous it may seem. For example, you might manufacture a small sensor that is used widely in products such as vehicles, heating systems or white goods. So why not talk about the impact your sensor has on the everyday lives of the users of those products? One of our common methods is making simple PESTEL comparisons, as well as regular reading and listening to current affairs. We follow this up with internal news agenda discussions to explore ideas.

Second, think laterally!

Map your story flow

There’s no set order for this but it’s essentially a case of whiteboarding or drawing a flow between your story spark and your final media angle. It might start with a ‘raw’ client hook – some gem that you have gleaned from a client meeting for example. Then you might map this to PESTEL factors to see how it applies in the world today. After that, it could be taking the ‘person on the street perspective,’ to boil it down to basics. Perhaps then looping back to the client to think about how their product or service links to the ‘need’. You then may try and capture a point of change – what is the axis of your story? Finally, scoping out what action needs to be taken by whom as a result of this change.

Build the story

Once you have an angle, what materials are needed to build out the story? Think about what matters. What elements would your target publication want? A certain job title as spokesperson or some data to corroborate what the story is about, for example. There’s no hard and fast rule about what materials to include but think about: The Cast (the people I want to bring into the story); The Evidence (original and desk research, data, case studies); The Change (what is happening?) and; The Relevance (reasons why the journalist/reader should care).

Add flavour

The final step is thinking about the flavour your story needs to have. This is about wrapping the whole thing up within a trend. You could be exposing a widening gap, foretelling a crisis, showing a breakdown, or predicting a downturn – or many other flavours! It’s not essential but it is a good way of ensuring your story hinges on something relevant.

And that is it.

Lateral thinking, in my opinion, is what makes a PR angle fly. Even if a client doesn’t say yes to every idea you come up with, making suggestions will eventually pay off and lead to improved results. It is a case of trial and error, however, and it can take time to find the story that sticks. As much as the PR professional needs to exercise his or her grey matter, the client needs to exercise some patience!

Thanks to the below for the great images:

Cover photo by Tachina Lee on Unsplash

Second photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

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About this article

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4 minutes

Category:

B2B Marketing, B2B PR, Guides and advice

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