Tried and True PR Strategies for a Prosperous 2010

©iStockPhoto/pavlen

©iStockPhoto/pavlen

Out with the old, in with the new? Not necessarily.

Let’s face it. A lot of business folks jumped on the social media bandwagon in 2009 with little or no results. While social media tactics will continue to be a vital part in a holistic PR program, most specifically around SEO and brand reputation monitoring, B2B companies can benefit immediately in 2010 from tried and true public relations tactics that have stood the test of time.

First of all, it’s important to remember that while print circulation last year plummeted, the number of unique visitors to newspaper websites grew by 15.8% to 65 million. Though the news media still struggles to figure out how to make $$$ from journalism, the audience is present and accounted for. As we reported in a past blog post Traditional PR is Not Dead, IT buyers from leading companies reported that trade publications are the #1 resource they utilize for identifying new products and services.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the top PR tactics that have yielded results for our clients without fail. Leveraging customer and partners in marketing/PR activities consistently tops the list. As one of our industry analyst friends stated in a client briefing, “the most believable and powerful message is always coming from the customer – if vendor companies want to be successful, they need to incorporate customer testimonials in every marketing campaign.”

Without doubt, customer testimonials can greatly enhance the credibility of a company and result in increased sales and media coverage. When customers talk favorably of your product or service, they send a free, believable and targeted marketing message. Customer endorsements can be used in a variety of marketing mediums: media/analyst outreach, collateral, thought leadership events, social media and/or inclusion on the website.

Many companies fail to engage their customers and partners because they lack a focused program to identify key customer spokespeople or they do not present a compelling value proposition to secure their participation. Self-centered requests for a product endorsement often fail. Successful programs are based on answering a potential spokesperson’s question of “What’s in it for me?” before you approach them. Many times, it takes some “thinking outside the box” to get customers on board. Smaller customers with a great story/interesting application and evangelistic spokesperson can be just as effective as a major customer.

Here are some tips for successful involvement of customers in your PR efforts:

  • Develop a compelling “win-win” proposition and utilize innovative/focused programs to help secure customer/partner support
  • Identify hot industry trends and potential customer evangelists who share thought leadership vision around this trend and may be looking to gain industry visibility
  • Secure a solid list of reference accounts who are consistently supporting your PR activities at various levels
  • Look beyond the obvious suspects (top customers) to see who might be leveraged in your campaigns (BOD members, technology partners, investors, etc.)
  • Leverage customer testimonials in every PR activity so it becomes the customer that is telling your company’s value proposition
  • Build a company “fan base” and increase potential of word-of-mouth marketing by leveraging fans and testimonials in social media channels

Bottom line, customer and partner participation is the key to highly effective public relations campaigns that produce greater brand awareness/credibility and ultimately enhanced sales results.

In my next post, we’ll take a look at the power of editorial tracking and rapid response tactics.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year!

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