One of the things I love most about public relations is how diverse the profession is. My experience working mostly with Business-to-Business (B2B) technology companies varies dramatically from the glamorous (and extremely stressed) publicist representing a top celebrity. At least this is what I gather from many TV shows and movies.
However, within technology and the corporate/startup world there is one distinction that makes a big difference when it comes to public relations strategy, media outreach, and results: is the company you are working with B2B or business-to-consumer (B2C)? You might not think this makes that big of a difference, but as someone who has done both – I can tell you it does.
Proof of Concept
B2B products are typically much more expensive, harder to implement, and harder to test. Journalists in the B2B space are far less interested in what is trendy and cool sounding. Sure, they want new – but with proof points about how customers are actually seeing value. A large company is not going to invest the money in something just because it sounds cool – where many consumers will (we are all guilty of this). Journalists know this and respect this fact. They know it all comes down to the results that the customer experiences using the product.
Number of customers (and journalists)
Consumer products still need a defined target customer – but its still probably going to be millions (and millions) of people. Mothers, coffee drinkers, users of smartphones. For B2B companies, your pool of customers is going to be WAY less. AWS systems administrators, enterprises, service-based businesses with less than 5 employees. B2B companies typically have a much more hyper specific type of company they are targeting. This also means their tends to be less journalists covering this space, while still being tons and tons of startups competing for their attention.
Sure, there are exceptions. But the concept of viral content doesn’t really exist in the B2B space. Articles about consumer products are naturally going to get more likes, comments, shares, and controversy. Partly because – see number 2 – there are just more people possibly affected by these products. But also businesses, and specifically possible buyers who actually care – are going to be more careful about what they say publicly that could possibly affect their professional life. Many tactics that B2C PR can rely on just won’t work with B2B.
Contributed articles, content, and thought leadership is important for most companies – but it is especially important in B2B. Contributed content has taken over and become a pillar of public relations. Connections and “who you know” in the B2B space is huge and people want to talk to people who they respect and contribute useful knowledge to their space.