3 Tips to Consider Before Hiring a B2B PR Agency B2B startups often do not realize the vast difference between B2C and B2B marketing. The right agency is key.
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Business-to-Business (B2B) public relations (PR), especially B2B tech PR, requires a certain finesse. From enterprise software to logistics systems to zero-party data collection, the products and services that B2B companies sell don't always lend themselves to snappy headlines and high-profile features.
Tech companies want to be on the cutting edge — and that's just as true for how they're represented as it is for what they produce. But what is it that makes the difference between a good agency and a great one? Why should your tech brand look for an agency that specializes in your niche?
Here are a few guidelines on what to look for in an agency. These have been cultivated after working six years as an in-house marketer and PR specialist, agency lead and consultant.
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1. A good agency goes beyond traditional PR
There are countless PR opportunities for tech companies today, and only a few of them have to do with traditional media placements. For example, your brand can do an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, run a Product Hunt campaign, do a fireside chat on LinkedIn, host a virtual panel, appear in a Clubhouse conversation — and the list goes on.
Any B2B PR agency you work with should seek opportunities beyond the typical quote in an article, although those are still an essential part of getting your brand more visibility. This is so critical that the number of tech startups has increased by 47% in the last decade. Making your voice heard through the noise takes creativity and persistence.
It is also essential that you find an agency that grasps your product in a way that allows them to break it down simply for readers. The art of taking a complex subject and simplifying it is a highly underrated skill that is usually groomed from experience. A good agency will have a roster of clients ranging from AI to blockchain and other cutting-edge technologies.
2. They have cultivated genuine press relationships
Look for an agency that has Tier 1 relationships. Yes, indeed, you can't land press without a solid hook or story, but you also need a firm that has a track record of getting editors to open and read their pitches. A PR firm that boasts pitching to 1,000 cold contacts isn't nearly as helpful as one that can pitch to 10 warm or even hot press connections.
That's because journalists are inundated with pitches and many of them have great story potential. So how does a journalist prioritize? Often, they look to sources they know have come through for them before. And, usually, these sources are PR firms who know how to work with journalists.
B2B companies often complain that while they can land industry publications, Tier 1 press is much more complex. You have to get creative and choose an agency that invests in those relationships.
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3. They are open to sharing results and case studies
A key differentiator between a good PR agency and a great one is one that understands the current online ecosystem and how brand awareness grows today is whether they are practicing what they preach.
Does their CEO make headlines? Do they practice content marketing? Do they have a solid understanding of how to create thought leadership? Are they open to sharing case studies and KPIs?
During my journey, I was lucky enough to learn from established PR professionals, one who was very instrumental in my progress, Shama Hyder of Zen Media. Hyder has built a massive following by being extraordinarily transparent and fixated on providing value publically.
For example, Zen Media's blog has content going back to 2009, often highlighting tips, client case studies, and overviews of Hyder's industry keynotes and media appearances. This has helped Hyder become a B2B PR thought-leader, with over 640,000 LinkedIn followers alone. Arguably more important than numbers is the effort to make genuine content that educates and provides value while reflecting an agency's philosophy.
"When it comes to marketing, sales, and PR, it doesn't matter what you believe. All that matters is what works," Hyder says. "More B2B buyers today do post-purchase research than ever before. They buy, and then want reassurance that they made the right decision."
While PR is helpful for most brands, tech-driven B2B brands need it more than ever because customers may or may not trust what you say about your brand, but they do trust credible third-party sources, like the media. When choosing a PR firm, don't just look for expertise in media relations, but for someone who truly understands demand generation and is open to sharing how they have helped similar companies in the past.