If timing is everything, how does a business know when it’s time to invest in a public relations program? Here are some of the most common signs.
Competitors are beating you to the punch
They may be beating you in business deals, customers, or simply mindshare. If your B2B service isn’t in the consideration set often enough, you may need to increase the kind of organic visibility that gets it into the first few pages of a google search. Over time, earned media and so-called “owned” content placed in relevant trade or business publications can help accomplish exactly that.
You have news
The most common trigger for hiring a PR agency is a hot new product or service. Media run on news, so the launch of a new product can kick-start a successful PR campaign. Like a first impression, you typically get one chance at a launch, so it pays to plan a program that includes earned media, owned content, and possibly paid media to support it. A well-executed public relations program targeted to prospective customers and stakeholders will help position it to your high-priority business audiences.
You have no news
If it seems like I’m stacking the deck here, well, maybe. The truth is, a great PR team can’t work miracles for a brand that truly doesn’t have a story to tell or news to share. But the right resource will help identify, shape, and communicate what’s new and different about your business. Then they’ll help you tell it to the people who count.
You have a lot of explaining to do
Public relations does a great job when a product or service category requires in-depth explanation, or when an educated customer is your best prospect. Where paid media can lack the space and depth for technical education, earned or owned content can work well, and it often includes evergreen pieces that pay long-term dividends in terms of organic SEO. Relatively simple content items like white papers, explainer videos, bylined articles, and op-ed pieces can help educate prospects in a less commercial and more credible way than advertising or SEM.
Perception lags reality
Maybe you’ve added services or expanded into new areas, but not enough customers realize it. In meetings with prospective clients, you get questions that show a dated perception of your business. Long-term employees might fall back on an old elevator speech when asked to describe the business. A sustained B2B PR program can correct misimpressions and offer an up-to-date picture of the company and its offering.
You’re planning a liquidity event
We’ve had some of our greatest successes with clients who are transparent about their goals, including plans like a VC fundraise, an IPO or an acquisition by a third party. If you want to be in the consideration set, it pays to get an early start and lay plans that position your business as a strong contender for acquisition in a rapidly consolidating category, for example. No one wants to be left alone at the dance.
Big changes are coming
If your industry is facing rapid change, or your own business is transforming quickly due to internal or external factors, now is the time to position it properly for the future. A crack PR agency or internal team can help by developing a strategy to navigate industry changes and gain competitive advantage.
You’re missing opportunities
A competitor was quoted in an article about your industry. A big RFP came down and your business wasn’t included. The sharp recruit you were wooing decided to join a better-known company. Reputation matters, and if your business rep isn’t what it could be, it may be time to set precise goals and examine what a strategic PR program can do to elevate your positioning among those who matter – namely, prospective customers and employees.
You’re always in reactive mode
If you’re spending too much time responding to competitive publicity, you’re in a reactive cycle. If media inquiries to your company go unanswered or are passed around to employees who aren’t trained in PR, or, worse, if you never get inquiries, you’re letting others dictate the business narrative. It may be better to bring on a qualified team to create the best possible positioning and narrative with the help of proactive, PR-driven storytelling.
You’re coming out of a crisis event or near-death experience
If you’re coming out of a business reversal or a full-blown crisis, you’ve probably been prioritizing your very survival. But if the tough times are behind you, investment in strategic PR can help turn the page and rebuild your reputation as better days loom ahead.