Not many people think of public relations (PR) as a lead generation tool. After all, PR is typically associated with brand reputation management.
However, PR can actually generate leads for businesses, including your B2B company. After all, to boost your brand’s reputation, you need to reach out to people. These people can include your potential B2B customers. Coupled with a powerful revenue acceleration platform like Breadcrumbs, you can then easily drive business growth.
Since lead generation and brand reputation enhancement are one of the top priorities for B2B, PR is indeed a valuable tool. In this article, I’ll focus on seven tips you should follow for effective PR lead generation. But let’s get the basics out of the way first.
What is public relations?
PR is the management of a company’s public image through strategic communication.
To generate favorable publicity and cultivate positive brand sentiment, PR professionals resort to PR tactics such as content marketing, event launches, and crisis management. Agencies with excellent PR services can also offer to build your brand’s relationship with traditional and digital media for enhanced media coverage.
See how those PR strategies complement each other to ensure a brand’s good reputation in the example below.
In 2015, Volkswagen became embroiled in a carbon emissions scandal that cost the brand billions in fines and lawsuits. It also suffered reputational damage, leading it to lose its ‘Green Car of the Year’ accolades.
The automaker apologized in a series of full-page newspaper ads.
Volkswagen also offered customers a goodwill package to regain customer trust. It also invested in green energy technology to recover its sustainability reputation. Subsequently, the company launched its goTozero event series, where environmental topics like decarbonization and biodiversity are discussed.
Notice that, in such cases, PR professionals have to reach out to editors, consumers, and other Volkswagen stakeholders for reputation management. A natural consequence of these activities is high-quality B2B leads.
7 PR lead generation tips
But to ensure effective B2B lead generation with PR, you must follow best practices. Here are seven you should follow:
1. Create long-form content
Public relations content is more than press releases and news reports. You also need other types of content, like blog posts, to manage your reputation.
But how exactly can you leverage PR for lead generation with these types of content as well? To answer this, we must understand where lead generation falls in the customer journey.
The customer journey has four stages:
- Awareness–prospects become aware of the solutions to their problem.
- Consideration–leads research various market solutions to their problem.
- Decision–customers purchase a specific solution to their problem.
- Delight–satisfied customers advocate for the solution.
Lead generation generally occurs in the second stage of the customer journey. Here, leads understand their pain points but aren’t sure which available solution is the best.
So, as a B2B company, this is where you use your inbound content to position your product as the best in class. Unlike B2C sales, the B2B sales process can take months and involve multiple decision-makers. That means you must provide lots of in-depth information to convince buyers of the value of your product. In other words, long-form content is best suited to the task.
Essentially, only with long-form content can you hit two goals: your PR goal of establishing yourself as an authority and your lead generation goal of getting quality B2B leads.
Long-form content is a piece of writing of 1,000 or more words. However, length isn’t the only defining factor. Long-form content has depth. This type of content goes deep into various topics, giving audiences context and value.
Let’s say a project manager is looking to improve productivity for remote workers. Articles with expert insight and actionable tips are a beneficial resource. To convince the CFO, you need content about the cost-benefit of your product.
Case studies like the one below are also a great example of long-form content:
This Thinkific case study showcases how the solution helps clients in a real-world context. Readers learn about the client’s problem, the application of the solution, and the impact on business.
Other long-form content includes white papers, e-books, and research reports.
These types of content must be digestible. No one wants to read pages of unstructured text. That means breaking content into sections, adding visual aids, and using a conversational tone. You can use artificial intelligence to write your long-form content if you don’t have time. AI SEO content also ranks well in search engine results pages.
2. Craft promo videos
Humans are naturally visual, making video marketing a popular and effective tactic for PR. Promo videos, in particular, are a great way to create buzz about your PR event.
In this video, for instance, HubSpot promotes its in-person event from September 6 to 8, while announcing its free live streaming for customers who can’t attend in person.
But you can use video marketing for lead generation as well. Video marketing statistics show that visual content, particularly video, helps 90% of marketers generate leads, and 51% of customers are more likely to share videos than any other type of content. That can translate to even more leads for you.
To generate B2B leads from your videos, just make sure you add clickable links to lead capture forms in the video or video description section. You should also add strong CTAs to encourage viewers to take action.
3. Publish PR content on the right platforms
So, you’ve created your long-form content and promo videos. But where exactly should you publish them for effective PR lead generation?
Today, businesses have multiple channels to reach a wider audience. While a multi-channel approach can help you get to as many people as possible, you still need to choose the right platforms for effective brand reputation management and lead generation. You might be wasting dollars and PR lead generation efforts on ineffective channels.
There are three primary content platforms.
- Owned–these channels that belong to your business
- Earned–these channels that belong to third parties
- Paid media–these are third-party channels you pay for
Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, paid channels help you reach targeted audiences quickly, but they can get expensive. Earned channels help build credibility, but you are stuck with these platforms’ formats. Owned channels give you control over messaging and branding, but these take time to deliver results.
So, what are the right platforms to publish content for PR lead generation?
A key determining factor is your target market. For customers to see your PR content, you must show it where they are.
Let’s say you’re a fintech company launching a new data security feature. You could have billboards around fintech hubs announcing the same, but that limits your reach for PR lead generation. A more appropriate approach would be having your announcement carrying your backlink published in online financial publications like the Wall Street Journal.
With this approach, you can generate qualified website traffic and B2B leads. After all, readers of the Wall Street Journal are people interested in finance. So, they are likely to be interested in your new fintech data security feature as well.
Create comprehensive buyer personas or fictional representations of your ideal consumer. These will help you pinpoint the channels your target audiences use. You can get the information you need for your buyer personas by looking at your analytics and other historical data from your marketing and sales team.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet
Learn how to create an Ideal Customer Profile and build a successful sales strategy with this Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet.
4. Attend PR events and interact with people
People crave authentic human interactions. It’s the reason personalization in marketing is a huge trend.
It’s also why B2B brand representatives should attend PR events like product launches, exhibitions, conferences, and so on, whether organized by them or by other companies. During these events, they don’t just get to establish their authority for PR when they share their expertise with other attendees or as speakers on stage. They also get to engage directly with potential leads, showcase their products, and collect customer feedback and contacts.
If you don’t have the resources to host or attend in-person events, the next best thing is virtual events.
You can also establish your authority and generate B2B leads as a sponsor or guest speaker of a podcast or webinar. Check out the example below. The SEO Lead from Shopify appeared as a guest on the webinar hosted by Yoast.
If you’re a guest, ask the host to show a relevant link to your website during the virtual event for PR lead generation. So, when attendees click on it, they can register to check out your free demo or sign up for your mailing list.
If you’re the organizer, you can get the contact details of your B2B qualified leads when they sign up for your virtual event.
5. Conduct editorial outreach for credible endorsements
Journalists are powerful influencers. That’s why managing how they portray your brand is a vital component of public relations.
But that’s not all.
Editorial coverage increases brand awareness among new audiences, therefore helping boost your website traffic and B2B and enterprise SaaS leads. The general thinking is if a product is in a trusted information source, then it must also be trustworthy and worth exploring.
Getting your PR stories published by reputable media for PR lead generation is easier than ever. Most journalists have social media profiles. You just need to look for the ones that cover your industry and pitch them your relevant content.
For the best results, though, you’ll want to build your relationship with them first before making your pitch. Media publications and journalists receive hundreds of stories. They’re more likely to notice PR stories pitched by people they know.
So, do what 54% of PR professionals do before they send their pitches: they follow journalists on social media platforms.
Another way of building media relations before sending your pitch is to help journalists with their own stories. Platforms like HARO connect journalists with industry experts. You can also search #journorequests on Twitter.
Just combine the hashtag with industry-specific terms to find posts relevant to your niche. Then, offer to be an interviewee if you’re an expert in the topic they wish to write about. Or you can refer someone who fits their interviewee criteria.
Journalists are more likely to return the favor if you ask them for media coverage for PR lead generation. You can use AI templates to create engaging pitches. Don’t forget to ask the journalist to include a link to your site or contact details in their write-up, if possible, for the best results.
6. Offer referral bonuses to happy customers
A referral bonus program is a great PR tool. With such a program in place, your customers can do all the PR work for you. In exchange for incentives, they essentially spread the good word about your brand. The PR benefits are huge, too. A staggering 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family.
Referral bonus programs are great for lead generation as well. Arguably, the best source for quality B2B leads is also your existing customer base. After all, each of your customers will have their own network of individuals who likely share the same interests as them.
So, create a referral program with incentives for PR lead generation. Your goal is to get your happy and loyal customers to participate. Since they really love your brand, they’ll come across as authentic when they’re promoting it to potential customers.
You can also leverage email marketing for your referral program. It’s a low-cost strategy that yields a higher click-through rate than social media channels. Here’s how that would work: a referrer receives a unique code from the business via email and shares it with their network. When a referred lead creates a brand account using that code, for instance, the referrer gets the reward.
You can also offer the reward to the referee. In PayPal’s referral system, apart from the referrer, the referee receives $10 when they sign up for an account and spend.
The bonus doesn’t have to be cash. You can also reward B2B customers and their referees with discounts or access to premium features.
7. Use consumer social proof in strategic places
You can use social proof to boost your brand reputation. When people see your own clients vouching for your brand, you become a trustworthy brand in those people’s eyes as well. Nine out of ten people say they trust what a customer says about a business more than what the business says.
You can use this PR tool for lead generation as well. Thanks to social proof, consumers trust your brand. So they are more likely to explore it themselves.
But for you to leverage consumer social proof for effective PR lead generation, you need to position it strategically across your marketing channels.
For instance, why not incorporate your client testimonials into your lead capture form, as in the example below?
The customer testimonial can give visitors the confidence to send you their contact details.
You can also leverage social media marketing. Banner your client testimonials in your social media posts like Zapier did below:
Then, leave a CTA; qualified leads can click on it to avail of a free trial of your product, for example. With this strategy, you won’t just generate quality B2B leads and enhance your brand reputation. You can boost social media engagement as well.
Get Quality B2B Leads with PR
PR isn’t just for boosting your brand reputation. You can also use it to generate quality B2B leads that drive business growth. However, you need to follow these best practices to ensure effective PR lead generation.
- Create long-form content
- Craft promo videos
- Choose the right platforms to publish PR content
- Attend PR events and engage with attendees
- Conduct editorial outreach for media coverage
- Leverage happy customers through referral bonuses
- Incorporate consumer social proof in strategic places
With these strategies, you can boost your brand reputation and generate quality B2B leads. Ultimately, you’ll grow your B2B business. Good luck!