Marketing can be hard. Driving consensus across your organization on the right, mission-focused message is no easy feat. Unfortunately, many B2B technology organizations struggle to agree on compelling, clear and consistent messaging that speaks to all influencer audiences – from employees to prospects to journalists. Without clear consensus, marketing, PR, HR and sales will create their own message, often quite different from each other, which eventually leads to misalignment – fragmenting your brand, creating confusion in the market and slowing your growth.
In today’s blog, we interviewed two of our experts from marketing and PR to help you learn:
- How to improve your messaging unification and execution;
- How both teams can build on the other’s results; and
- How to clarify your mission and vision to prospects and customers alike.
Let’s get started!
Cut to the chase. How can marketing work with PR to create an exposure advantage?
VP of Digital Advertising, Nick Ilev: One way is to combine PR campaigns with a strategic placement-targeting campaign using ads. That way, for example, when you get coverage in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post – or in targeted trade press like TechCrunch, InformationWeek or Network World – digital ads bring that coverage to the attention of the people you want to notice you.
In terms of exposure, deploying display campaigns in the same outlets that you target for publication will expand your brand name recognition to target buyers and influencers.
VP of PR, Cybersecurity and Consumer Products, Michael Tebo: I agree – digital ads are an effective way to amplify the coverage that we secure for clients.
We also encourage all of our clients to highlight media coverage on their websites – either with an online newsroom or a section of their front page that lists and links to recent coverage. It’s a way to not only keep your employees informed about when and where the company has been in the news, but it’s likely your business partners and prospective customers will see it as well – media coverage makes a big impression and instantly contributes to credibility. Further, timely and relevant website updates and linkbacks help with SEO efforts.
It’s also important to amplify your coverage on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as they’ve become a first choice for news consumption to millions. Once the story comes out, there’s life for media coverage after the initial headline – don’t let it die on the vine!
The bottom line: You should never stop talking about those moments you made it into The New York Times or the top publication in your industry.
What are some common pitfalls in alignment?
Nick Ilev: It’s critical for PR to place active links in placements – this is an industry must. Active links generate SEO and engagement – the best active links include a keyword you’re trying to rank for and are not just a company name. Some publications limit your choices here, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Michael Tebo: You can easily see the effect of unaligned keywords if you analyze all of your media coverage as a whole.
Ask yourself, when you see the results of a whole-channel keyword analysis – does this match our message, brand and identity? Do these phrases and keywords align with what we want to be known for?
At GMG, we always start with integration and alignment of keywords to make sure this keyword chaos never happens. For instance, if you want to be known for cloud computing, the phrase “cloud computing” should appear prominently in everything you do. It should be obvious, but it’s not always that simple.
For example, if you offer a tech platform for colleges and universities, the term “EdTech” needs to be a keyword, because it is how reporters talk about and report on the space. If you work in EdTech, you may feel the term undersells the sophistication and innovation of technology that serves educational institutions, but EdTech is how it is commonly known.
You want to be easily discovered in basic searches through common industry verbiage.
A company’s vision and mission are important to its success. How does alignment help execute on vision and mission?
Nick Ilev: Messaging needs to be universal across the board – analysts, advertising and messaging all need to align.
As PR messaging is created, build in SEO research findings to interweave into messaging. Then, when the buzz is created in coverage, the keywords and product names all end up on-target.
A word of warning: all messaging needs to be customized for each audience, but the same keywords, descriptors and themes need to be consistent across a company.
Everyone needs to be saying the same thing.
This not only helps SEO, but also makes your overall brand image universal.
Michael Tebo: Integrating tech PR with your tech marketing means you’ll be plugged into more paths that contribute to your critical metrics. You’ll likely learn where leads originate, what drives them and which features or enhancements attract prospects.
If you’re not seeing success in media relations converting to more leads or sales, track down your numbers with the help of your marketing team to see what your prospective customers are most interested in, as well.
Pulling from your experience with prospective and current clients, would you say most B2B tech companies have PR and marketing aligned? Bonus question: Which channel alignment is usually lacking? Which is the most important?
Nick Ilev, from 30,000 Feet: Most companies don’t use the same message, keywords or terminology in PR, marketing OR sales. Successful message dissemination comes from clear, consistent, compelling and authentic storytelling internally and externally. The majority of organizations struggle with this, which leads to a fragmented brand and market confusion.
From an audience’s perspective, this fragmentation either degenerates to noise or bafflement.
Michael Tebo, Somewhere in Area 51: Agreed; they usually aren’t aligned, but they are related – it’s not a carelessness with alignment. Many never had the time to discuss how they talk about what they do or how they want to position the product.
We’ve seen many businesses experience little return when trying to execute on PR and marketing internally. It’s not for a lack of trying or even budget. It’s usually a gap in knowledge of the disciplines – they are missing a more well-rounded understanding of what PR and marketing can do.
In the end, this means mission and vision suffer.
It goes beyond integrating marketing and PR, though, when the full potential – and routes of execution – in these two fields are unknown to a business. In those situations, you’re much more likely to miss not only the full scope of benefits with each, but the advantages of integration.
What are some pointers to help people bridge the gap? How will they help?
Both Nick and Michael in Unison, to a Melody: Work closely together. If everything isn’t executed simultaneously, issues can come up. Controlling the process and refining each stage as it unfolds helps eliminate confusion and builds a stronger, united front.
Are there any platforms or collaboration features you might recommend to help alignment and execution?
Nick Ilev: The best features to look for? Something simple. It’s not very complicated – it’s a workflow thing; look for transparency, ease of access and clear workflows and orders of activity. From campaign planning to execution, these elements naturally encourage alignment.
Michael Tebo: I would add that using a production platform like HubSpot or Hootsuite is an easy way to enforce consistency of message. Hootsuite, for instance, allows you to schedule and send the same message across Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. That way, your social media marketing stays consistent with your messaging, and you can focus all relevant platforms without worry.
Can PR use social media to refine content and buyer personas?
Nick Ilev: This works both ways – tracking changes and fluctuations in interest for these groups can help with long-term refinement of messaging, topics to follow and engage, etc.
Michael Tebo: Tracking across both PR and marketing also helps you see where your product can go in the future. Dig into those emerging trends to see developments in industry conversation. Also, alignment means you’ll know which targeted messages succeed around expanded offerings and the variations on the messages that support them. Customers and prospects frequently align due to the harmony between the right offering and the right positioning.
Want More Help?
Integrating your tech PR and marketing with strategies like these will clear the way for higher quality leads, a clearly conveyed vision and exposure that generates buzz – not just noise.
That doesn’t mean you’re at the end of your journey to growth, however.
Choose your own path:
Want more help in your tech PR? Download this case study to find out how one of GMG’s clients received nearly $10M in Publicity Value and helped grow their business through PR.
Planning your next ad campaign? Explore this case study to discover how one of our award-winning digital advertising campaigns helped an early brand boom.