“If the person handing it in wants it published worse than the newspaper, it’s advertising. If the paper wants it worse than the person handing it in, it’s news.”
Okay, so that’s one of the more cynical ways journalists have defined their craft, but it does capture the essence of public relations. PR is content that trade magazine and website editors want to publish because it serves their readers. Marketing PR is content that is carefully crafted to satisfy both editors’ needs and support the marcomm goals of the company behind the PR (in CCC’s case, our clients).
It’s been proven time and again that paid advertising in print publications and electronic media works to build awareness and preference and to generate sales leads. But so-called “free” marketing public relations — news and information about your products and services — works for B2B marketers too.
Public relations content takes a journalistic form and is written without sales pitches, product-specific promotions or “our product is better than XYZ’s” claims that can be found in ads. What is it about exposing your prospects to objective news and information that persuades them to pay attention, inquire and even buy?
It’s all about credibility
Whether it’s a news release describing a new product you’re offering, a case study describing a customer application, or a technical article sharing “how-to” information, public relations is about keeping it real. Public relations allows you to not just claim but “demonstrate” your product innovations, your technical expertise and your solutions. And when the information comes across as real and untainted by hype and self-promotion, readers believe it, trust it and often act on it.
It also turns out that in the business-to-business world, information about products, applications and technology is highly valued by most customers — especially when it’s presented in an objective, just-the-facts manner. Readers of trade publications and technical websites are hungry for information about new solutions to their problems, and they tend to reward companies that provide it.
A powerful set of attributes
As a marketing technique, public relations has some unique and powerful attributes that make it an effective stand-alone strategy or an ideal addition to an ongoing advertising campaign.
Free placement — Editors value objectively written news and information and are willing to share it with their readers at no charge. While the timing and frequency of placements cannot always be controlled, public relations materials often appear in multiple publications.
Implied editorial endorsement — Editors do not actually endorse news items that they publish, but from the reader’s point of view, the very fact that the editor selected the news release, feature or technical article is an endorsement of its content.
Broad reach — Clients can seldom afford to advertise in multiple, vertical markets, but public relations can easily cover vertical markets when the subject matter is suitable. This allows broader reach with no added investment.
Leveraged content reduces costs — Materials written for public relations can also be leveraged for online and brochure content. White papers and customer case studies can appear in a publication, be printed as sales handouts, or be used as incentives or offers in paid advertising.
Marketing PR is one of the most efficient ways of disseminating the news and information your customer prospects want and need to make purchasing decisions. Want help leveraging PR for your business? Contact your CCC account manager or email Susan McPherson.