Unexpected - Issue 10 - Public Relations in B2B Marketing
Unexpected - how to optimise events in your B2B marketing strategies
BBN NEWSLETTER - ISSUE 10
PR in B2B Marketing
Uwe Schaad, BBN Germany
Uwe Schaad, BBN Germany
Feedback or comments:
2016 is a very special year: Exactly 10 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow students opened Facebook for everyone and Twitter started its microblogging services. Both platforms gave social media an additional boost and changed the world as we knew it – socially, politically, and economically. Experts now speak of the “age of individual empowerment” and about the “shift from state to citizen, from employer to employee, from corporation to consumer”. In this context, leadership and communication need to be thought anew too, of course.
Traditional media which had played an important role in the shaping of public opinion have come under a lot of pressure. And so has PR: “Who needs PR when you have social media?” But facts are much more in favour of PR. In recent years, the Nielsen Company has stated repeatedly that “as the web matures, the content specialists of the offline world start to shine online too”. And in 2014 a European study found, that “the websites of traditional media outlets were by far the most visited platforms” in all the region’s countries.
A Global Executives Study by the Washington-based Atlantic Media group confirmed that 61 percent of today’s business leaders prefer to read news on their mobile devices. Most of them have maintained their traditional media subscriptions, though, because they value the information accuracy and time efficiency that is linked to quality journalism.
And to be accurate, PR has never been limited to media relations only. It has always been about relevant target groups and how to build strong relationships with them.
Hence, instead of starting another round of speculating on PR’s future, we thought it worthwhile to provide you with a fresh look at some tasks close at hand. E.g identifying your best influencers, gaining further insights into your audiences from social media, or impacting your corporate reputation through brand storytelling.
Enjoy reading and please give feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
What's new at BBN
Catch up on what's new at BBN
Collaborating and supporting each other is what BBN is all about. Collaborations between agencies working on shared business, clients or other initiatives are not uncommon. But knowledge sharing is one of the key benefits for our agencies and so worth highlighting.
Curtis, Lori, Rodger and 'The Fonz' !
Always eager for Brand Asset Management (BAM) training, Matt Orlando from BBN Canada had asked if BBN USA in Milwaukee would be willing to host a visit by his strategist Lori Zinger and take her through some of the finer points of BAM workshop tools and techniques. So Lori spent two days in the Milwaukee office with Rodger Jones and Curtis Gorrell. Now that is team work and collaboration at its best!
The team hard at work
Marketing for Modern Oil
In December of 2015 BBN UK (Scotland) and BBN Norway announced a strategic partnership which would offer companies in the Energy sector a unique proposition - an integrated energy marketing agency with a local market expertise across all of the world's major oil capitals in Europe, North America, South America, Asia and the Middle East. Essentially, one agency who can talk oil & gas marketing in any language. With a shared belief in the efficiencies that digital marketing techniques such as content marketing, marketing automation software and social media marketing can deliver, we decided to host two free marketing seminars for people working in the energy sector marketing on both sides of the North Sea.
BBN UK and BBN Norway collaborated on an agenda for each seminar, identifying relevant topics and subject matter for keynote presentations. The first seminar was delivered to an audience of 50+ energy sector marketing professionals in Aberdeen, Scotland on March 2nd. BBN UK were able to secure a guest speaker from LinkedIn's energy vertical team, who introduced the audience to the wide range of marketing products that exist on the platform, and called on specific examples of energy sector firms who were using LinkedIn to best effect. On Monday 7th March the seminar was repeated to an audience of energy sector professionals in Stavanger, Norway from firms including Expro Group, Kongsberg and Aker Solutions.
The seminars were co-branded under the title 'Modern Oil Marketing'. Both seminars were promoted via multi channel marketing campaigns, all linked back to SharpSpring automation software where registered delegates were put onto automated workflows to receive event details, reminders and follow ups.
Both seminars generated enquiries for both agencies, who are now collaborating on proposal documents.
In early February BBN Central visited our newest agency BBN Norway to provide a full induction and on-boarding to BBN. These visits are important for a number of reasons:
- to ensure the agency is aware and has access to the BBN methodologies and tools.
- To provide the basis of ongoing training in these various tools
- Build relationships (& friendships)
- Increase understanding of the agency's culture, specialist skill sets and capabilities
- Establish common understanding on the expectations, commitment and high standards demanded of our agencies
See photos of our visit to BBN Norway
Three NEW Strategic Partners
In the last few months, BBN have acquired three excellent Strategic Partners: Turtl, NUVI and Derse.
Overview of Turtl
Turtl is a pioneering digital content experience that helps brands tell their stories in a way that raises the ceiling on content performance and ignites digital conversations with customers. In fact the newsletter you are now reading uses Turtl and brings together the art of conversation and the science of performance in a Surf and Immerse reading experience. As a strategic partner with Turtl, BBN aims to deliver more compelling content on behalf of our clients.
Overview of NUVI
NUVI empowers companies of all sizes to find deep data driven insights that bring clarity to the digital conversation surrounding their brand and service. It helps them understand and take advantage of the entire conversation from numerous social channels millions of blogs and rss feeds, and countless other digital sources.
As a strategic partner with NUVI, BBN will help our clients with better research, analytics, engagement and reporting across their online presence.
Overview of Derse:
Derse is the complete face-to-face marketing agency and exhibit builder with more than 475 employees and six full-service divisions. Ranked as a Top 10 Experiential/Event Marketing Agency by Advertising Age and B2B Top Shop by Chief Marketer, Derse brings a smarter wins approach to exhibits, events and environments for client programs in more than 50 countries. Derse aims to support and collaborate with BBN agencies around the world.
If you want to learn more about becoming a BBN Strategic Partner, please contact Annette Fernandes-Poyser for more information.
The Golden Bees - Open for Entries
The Golden Bees annual awards have been designed to recognise all that’s great about being part of BBN. Now open for entries, winners will be celebrated at BBN's annual Academy in Spain later in the year.
BBN on B2B: The Blog
We upload a new blog post nearly every week and all of the content is generated by our agencies and partners. In the last few months we’ve written on topics like international marketing, thought leadership, lead generation, product marketing, programmatic advertising, social media, branding, events and research.
Read the BBN Blog
Join the LinkedIn discussion group on everything B2B Marketing
We like to talk!
Check it out: LinkedIn - BBN on B2B Marketing
BBN Twitter slaves
When BBN tweets... you're listening to real people from all over the BBN world. Each month, our Twitter account is taken over by agency 'Twitter Takeover Tweeters' and each year we reward the best Tweeters who gain the most followers in their month. Last year Sabrina Russo from BBN France & Tom Busby from BBN London received their prize hampers for attaining 84 new followers in the month of October 2015. Well done guys!!
Twitter Slaves, Tom and Sabrina enjoying their prizes!
...in Public Relations
What's trending in PR and media relations
Here are some key topics in PR and media relations that you're probably already hearing lots about. Some trending activity is technology driven, but not all, some just require us to look at traditional methods slightly differently.
Virtual Reality - The Intersection of Virtual Reality & PR
Is there an opportunity for PR to expand its definition of ‘brand content’ to include virtual reality?
Virtual reality was a popular prediction for what’s going to be big in 2016. It’s a virtual reality itself as 2016 isn’t going to be the breakthrough year of mass adoption, but it is still something that PR professionals need to understand and be ready for. So what does this emerging technology actually mean for professional public relations.
The Holmes Report - The intersection of VR and PR
Live Streaming Video: PR’s Great New Opportunity
The game changing potential of live, interactive broadcasts is already in motion. Take, for instance, the rapid growth of live-streaming platforms such as Ustream, Brandlive, Meerkat and Periscope. How are top brands using these live video technologies successfully, and what role should PR play in this process?
Creating the Future of PR - How brands use live events streaming for PR
PR and Social - The social media release
The social media release has arrived after 100 years of the traditional media or news/press release. Social media releases look similar to today’s multimedia releases in format, structure and design, but can open up dialogue in new ways.
However, they don’t replace traditional media releases; they are complementary because they are intended to reach social media while traditional releases reach traditional media.
Cutting Edge PR - The social media release
Storymaking or Storytelling?
Once upon a time, an industry became obsessed with storytelling. Everywhere these industry people went, they said storytelling was the most important thing they all had to do. Then a mean dragon of a columnist said storytelling was evil, and the industry people slew him so they could go back to enjoying their jobs. The end.
Or consider a different version of this story - Once upon a time, an industry became obsessed with storytelling. But it gradually came around to the idea that no one listening to those stories could remember anything about them, so the industry people found a more meaningful way to connect with their audiences. And they all lived happily ever after. The end.
Ad Age - Beginning and End of Storytelling
'Celebrity' Thought Leaders
By becoming thought leaders, hidden experts are transformed into recognised visionaries. Not only are they especially adept and informed, but they have a visible track record of success. Clients, industry analysts, and competitors do recognise them for their abilities and insights. Consequently, these professionals are top of the mind whenever a discussion turns to relevant topics. They are habitually called when their skills and understandings can prove beneficial.
Forbes - What is a Celebrity Thought Leader
Gaining audience insights at an event
Gaining insights from an audience during a live event through social posting can be enlightening...
Video by: NUVI
Events drive leads for sales and are a powerful networking tool that enables companies and brands to connect with their audiences and clients face to face. At least, that’s what we know. But as any marketer, sales rep and event organiser will tell you, qualifying those collected leads is anything but certain.
Using social media to track activity pre and post-event is nothing new, but keeping up with what your audiences are saying during your event could lead to valuable clues and insights to help optimise your event for the future.
NUVI revealed that nearly 77% of event marketers use social media as a key engagement strategy before an event. But that number drops to 61% after the event. It seems silly that most organisers would disappear on social after their event is over, and even sillier that we wouldn’t be prioritising social media during events!
'Audiences' By NUVI, BBN's newest strategic partner, helps find the data driven insights that every business and brand needs. In this video, we look at CES 2016, a consumer electronics show, and the insights we can glean from the social response surrounding the event. Although this is a consumer led event, the same principles apply to B2B.
NUVI can set up a social listening dashboard to track your event’s unique hashtag. Look for valuable clues such as sentiment, number of posts, images, etc. from your audience. Are they posting quotes from speakers who inspired them? Or are they complaining that the speaker went on too long? Those comments can go a long way to tailoring future events and finding the content that’s really connecting with your audience.
Walk the street
Walk the street
A powerful PR 'stunt' that resulted in our client being featured in over 140 pieces of coverage in broadcast news, national, business and regional press.
Case supplied by BBN France
“Proactivity”, “reactivity”, “creativity” - there's not a single request for proposal, client meeting or brief that doesn’t mention that holy triptych of buzz words that symbolises what efficient public relations should be about.
And rightly so!
Pushing clients out of their comfort zone
In a world of standardised communication where each word is weighed and where corporate communications is too often synonymous of bland communication, it is comfortable for agencies to tag along and settle for the minimum core services they are being paid for. But as you might guess, this attitude can only end badly. If you don’t prove irreplaceable to your client, if you don’t push him out of his own comfort zone, you only end up being “just another” agency.
We recently got the opportunity to prove to one of our historical clients (14 years and counting) that we were still the agency that would shake things up a bit… even if it meant taking risks and pushing boundaries.
On April 8th 2015, TV5 Monde, a French TV news channel broadcasting all around the world and specially in the Middle East and Northern Africa, was hacked during the night by cybercriminals who pretended to act in the name of the Jihad.
Quick reactions hit the spot
As we got alerts of these events in the early hours of the morning, we started to get in touch with some of our clients that could find themselves in crisis communication mode. One was a technical provider for TV5 Monde (who proved not to have been impacted but whose communication director had been unaware of the issue), the other one, one of our key security clients who could provide valuable insights into the matter.
As we were talking to their leading expert and spokesperson, we decided to go one step further than the usual offer of phone interviews or written statements. As the “victim” of the hack was a TV station, we figured that this would hit a soft spot with other media and that they would most likely dispatch teams to their colleagues’ headquarters.
As it happens, TV5 Monde is across the street from us.
We therefore asked our client to come physically in front of our office to do news high-jacking in a bold and very literal way: offering expertise hot off the pavement!
This proved to be a hit! TV, radio, print reporters were delighted to be able to have a one-stop shopping kind of experience where they could both get the “in situ” shots and the valuable expert in one go.
Overall, our client was featured in over 140 pieces of coverage in broadcast news, national, business and regional press thanks to a stunt that was originally sold as “allons tapiner*”!
*”let’s go walk the streets/turn tricks”
Meet BBN Norway
Iteo joined BBN in 2015 and have already taken part in collaborative initiatives with BBN UK (Scotland) in Norway and Aberdeen. With an office in Oslo, Iteo service key clients including Emirates Airlines, Panasonic, Dell and Tesla.
An interview with Andreas Thue
Andreas is Managing Director at Iteo, based in Oslo, Norway.
1) Some personal background on Andreas (career development)?
Andreas has close to 20 years experience. He specialises in B2B, especially IT/tech, Energy, Building and Construction sectors.
Andreas founded Text 100 Norway in April 2005, and served from 2008 to 2010 as Managing Director Nordics. Prior to that, he worked for other PR agencies and as a journalist.
Experience includes services for clients such as IBM, Dell, Emirates, Panasonic, Xerox, Intel, SAP, and Schneider Electric as well as many large local clients from different vertical sectors.
Andreas has vast experience dealing with all types of PR services and areas, including having carried out large campaigns across the Nordic region. He has an international education with a PR graduate certificate from Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, UK.
Specialties: B2B Marketing, Strategy and Communication services. Sales and new biz expert
2) Give us some background on Iteo’s journey since joining BBN?
Since joining BBN we have primarily focused on the partnership with Fifth Ring, and getting to know the various tools and processes. We are still a new partner and are trying to blend in with the rest of the inspirational agencies from across the world. We had a great induction session with Annette, and are now trying to integrate BBN with all of our staff.
3) How have you benefited from BBN so far?
Access to tools and best practice. Access to experts and insight through partnership with Fifth Ring
4) What about BBN attracted you?
Global reach and access to best practices within B2B marcomms. Iteo is undergoing a huge change to become a one-stop-shop for all marcomms needs, and thus we need access to more tools, experience and know how. We believe we have found the perfect partners in BBN, and our dealings with Fifth Ring have so far proven that it’s a great match for us – we think and act alike.
What it takes...
...to become a BBN Agency
Smarter agencies join BBN
The journey to becoming a BBN agency partner certainly isn’t an easy one. We demand high standards, high levels of commitment and collaboration and above all, agencies should share our vision to be the best B2B marketing agency.
BBN’s new agency induction is designed to prepare our agencies for the toughest challenges that come with engaging in international B2B marketing communications.
After a pretty rigorous recruitment process involving a series of interviews and assessments, an information exchange takes place between the two to ascertain the suitability of the agency for BBN – and of BBN for the agency. As the world’s only dedicated business to business independent agency group, it is of vital importance that any agency becoming a BBN partner are the leading business to business marketing agency within their local market OR have the clear ambition to be the leading business to business agency within their local market.
If selected, the next 6-12 month induction process then begins with a formal face-to-face kick-off session delivered by a BBN representative in the agency’s premises spanning 2-3 days. The objective of this session is to provide intense training on how BBN operates, how the agency can optimise it’s partnership, gain mutual understanding when it comes to commitment expectations and introduce the agency to BBN’s many benefits and available IP.
In the months that follow video and conference calls, the BBN Academy, webinars and workshops all play a part in helping to induct the new agency in BBN’s core processes and methodologies, as well as help the agency build valuable relationships and collaborations with other agencies.
Once the induction is complete (although agencies never stop learning from one another) A BBN agency is ready to take full advantage of the benefits of it’s partnership, including unlimited access to BBN’s core methodologies; exclusive access to ‘The Lounge’, BBN’s dedicated knowledge sharing and networking resource; attendance at BBN events such as the owners’ conference; assistance with international projects and cultural issues; support with marketing themselves as a partner of BBN in promotional materials and websites and in most cases discovering new business opportunities and clients.
For nearly 30 years, this approach has ensured that BBN can maintain the highest standard of B2B marketing communications no matter where in the world we are needed.
Back to the Future
Creating Your Brand Story
Back to the Future
Brand stories are a huge topic these days. But as a matter of fact, they are much older than the current buzz about storytelling. They have formed the basis on which every known brand has ever been built, i.e. the stories that people tell about products and companies, the experiences they’ve had with them, why they trust or distrust them. The only thing that’s really new about the current “brand story” discussion is that organisations realise it may be more to their benefit to have an active hand in the crafting and distribution of these stories.
Article by: Uwe Schaad, BBN Germany
Numerous descriptions of brand stories exist, but basically it boils down to three aspects:
- Brand stories are not about abstractions, they are about real people.
- They are not about the present or the future, but about the past.
- They are a kind of blueprint for other stories that you would like to see, read or hear about your brand.
Let’s take a closer look at these aspects to better understand what is expected from a brand story and how it can be achieved.
“The best brands are built on great stories.”
Ian Rowden, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Group
Many brands – and specifically corporate brands – share a whole range of common brand values: integrity, passion, quality, innovation, you name it. What actually renders all these brands unique is their brand story: the reasons why they came into being, how this or that idea was conceived and in the end turned into a reality. Of course, the brand values will shine through the narrative, but the brand story is actually grounding them, giving them a discernable geographical place and historic moment, as well as the thoughts and actions of real people. This adds drama and emotion to otherwise dry information, and makes it more memorable.
Brand stories build a bridge between a brand’s vision and mission for the future and a carefully selected chain of events from the brand’s history to add credibility to corporate decisions and activities in the present. It is probably the most important part of the brand story process: to select the critical proof points and to pace the narrative adequately. Because it’s neither useful to bore listeners or readers, nor to disappoint them with too little information.
Some events may be relevant for you – but they are not for your audience. At the same time, people are highly sensitive as to whether you withhold any part of your (hi-)story which they consider relevant. So, for instance, you will find information on Dow Chemicals’ website about the 1984 gas plant tragedy in Bhopal/India. Or on Shell’s website about the public dispute that was triggered in the mid-90s by their plan to sink the oil rig Brent Spar in the North Sea. Both companies are masters in brand storytelling and use their means efficiently to influence the public reputation building around their brand.
Be a Storymaker
Which finally takes us to the third aspect: the spawning of new stories through active brand storytelling. There is not just one right place for your brand story, though – for instance – the “About Us” page on your website may be a good start. The story that you tell about your brand can and should be used in many places and situations: in presentations, ebooks, videos, media articles, sales meetings etc. If it’s memorable and convincing for your audience, because they see a consistency between your story and their own experience with your brand, it’s most likely that they are going to retell your story.
Of course, not every brand needs the same type of brand storytelling. It really makes a difference, whether – from a corporate point of view – you have a start-up company, or a hidden player that has been in the market for some decades, or a huge corporation that already became a household name.
The Brand as the Storyteller
Take the British car company Aston Martin, for instance. They are telling a wonderful brand story, www.astonmartin.com/en/the-company/company-history, beginning with their foundation in 1913 and then leading through an exciting course of events that includes grand prix successes, famous car models, and even a British spy’s frequent love affair with the brand. It is set up with handsome photography and short story vignettes. All the company’s CEOs are there, but, actually, it is more like “Aston Martin” the brand has taken over and is telling it’s very own story. That’s probably the best your brand – and your brand storytelling – can ever get!
But even if you have no corporate brand with a hundred years under its belt, it’s possible to tell a compelling brand story. Take US-based SmileSquared as an example:
They start off with a very personal account of the company’s founders travelling to Guatemala in 2010, and how they came to envision their business based on the huge effect dental hygiene has on people’s well-being anywhere in the world. It’s pretty emotional and once you have read it you won’t get it out of your mind again.
PR is Changing
How content marketing is changing PR
Content marketing and media relations – side by side
Article by: Brit Ingvild Holmem, partner and head of Business PR, BBN Norway
Content marketing is the “new” loud and a crucial part of the marketing mix. How will it change PR, and how will traditional and new PR forms coexist in the future?
I say “new” in quotation marks, because content marketing has been here for decades, though we have not always called it content marketing. Company magazines and the well-known Michelin guide are both examples of content marketing efforts with long histories.
The difference now is that the owned channels – websites and blogs, for example – can play a much more prominent role in the buyer’s journey. For B2B companies, it is about increasing SEO, supporting the customers in their journey towards buying your product or service. The website or blog can become your best sales person – always on duty, always awake, supporting your leads generation and helping your customers understand why your offering best solves their challenges.
Shift in media landscapes and buyer’s journeys requires change
Now, how does this relate to traditional PR and media relations? The fact is that we are seeing a shift in many markets. Though seeking attention through media coverage is still a significant tactic, the media landscape is decreasing. It is becoming more difficult to get messages across through traditional media relations. At the same time, the audience is becoming more and more independent, seeking information actively and going to other sources.
"PR is not dying - it's changing, and the process is fascinating.
- Media Connection
They find their information in their procurement process online, through peers they know or follow in social media or their network and Google searches. To add to that, surveys show that they do not trust sales people anymore, and that 90 per cent of the buyer’s journey is already done before they even contact a vendor or provider.
Approaching target groups in new ways
These two factors require traditional PR agencies, as well as their clients, to work and think in new ways. Some markets already have to tackle these changes head-on, as they are seeing significant changes in what tactics give the best results for the clients. Norway and Scandinavia is one example. Other markets, such as the US, Germany, France and UK may be less affected, as they still have a large media landscape, but content marketing is gaining traction in these markets as well.
As a PR agency in Norway, we have realised that we have to go to our clients with a different approach. It is both in our and our clients’ interest. We used to rely on traditional media relations as one of the main pillars in our service offering, but it does not always generate the desired results anymore. How to succeed is an essay in itself, but here are a few points on our approach:
- We go directly to our target groups, delivering messages through owned channels such as blogs and websites.
- The traditional marketing language has to go. The way we communicate to target groups must focus on solutions: What we do to solve the challenges our clients have. Customers do not care about the biggest, best, unique, brilliant, unmatched excellence. They want to know what you can do to help, and those are the most important messages to give to your target groups.
- Good content spreads. Writing SEO optimised, and writing content that your own employees and their network want to share, gives proven results. Use the company SoMe-channels as well.
- Making sure all the traffic is directed back to the blog or website is crucial, so is the use of marketing automation tools to ensure capturing leads.
Content for press
The interesting thing is how the approach has proven to strengthen media relations as well. Journalists working at an increasingly higher pace with high delivery demands are also looking for good content for their articles. In Norway, we have seen many examples where product launches, customer stories, thought leadership and so on published on company blogs and websites have been referred to and reported in earned media. The (relatively) unbiased tone of voice appeals to both journalists as well as customers. For some of our clients, we even experienced increased media coverage after revising our methods. Content on the blog pitched to media has given at least the same yield as the old press release and interviews.
Content marketing will not take away the need to do traditional PR. The two forms of market communication will continue to live side by side. However, good content will be the driving force in the future, not the desire to achieve media
Tips to help your clients expand PR beyond their home country
Tips to help your clients expand PR to an international audience.
By Nicole Adrian, senior PR counselor, BBN USA
Many of us may know a country — or even a set of countries — where we understand best practices for working with the media. But when it comes to new markets, we may be in unfamiliar territory. Luckily, as part of BBN, we can help educate each other about best practices and cultural do’s and don’ts, as well as help execute PR tactics as needed.
Building a BBN PR Team
Recently, my team worked with a North American client who wanted to distribute a new product news release to targeted publications in a handful of European countries. Knowing the needs of the local media and audience would be different than what we are used to in North America, we knew we needed to call in the regional experts and think through our approach.
Through conversations with BBN UK (Scotland), BBN Germany and BBN France we learned insights that helped drive our strategy:
In Germany, articles are developed in collaboration with editors. An agency works closely with an editor to draft the story and discuss edits. On the other hand, in the United States, an agency often writes an article on a client’s behalf and submits to the editor. Sometimes, you might not hear anything about the article until you see it in print.
French editors are very independent. Because of this, they aren’t as receptive to story ideas or news releases like U.S. editors tend to be. Instead, they like to develop their own stories, typically focusing on the end user.
UK based publications are often led by advertising, meaning news is published only when money is spent, too. In the United States, earned media is still obtainable in trade outlets.
Although these takeaways are specific to our product launch and the countries we were targeting, it was eye-opening to learn the breadth of differences between PR in the United States and other countries. This knowledge has continued to serve us well, as our work with this client moves into new regions, including Asia-Pacific.
Recognising Worldwide Best Practices
Beyond this, we’ve recognised some commonalities that are true no matter where you execute your PR campaigns. This list includes not only work on behalf of our clients but also tips for working with others in BBN:
- Editors prefer working with an agency associate who speaks the local language — sometimes even down to similar dialects within their countries.
- Similarly, contributed content should be in the local language. Distributing a release that is not in the local language can place the client company and even the agency in an unfavourable light.
- Stories or pitches should be localised, if possible, making the story that much more pertinent to readers. In fact, the expert quoted in a release should be someone from that region, rather than someone — even a president or CEO — from headquarters.
- When budgeting, account for additional time for on-going correspondence between agency contacts. When agencies begin working together, there can be a learning curve to work through.
The next time you’re tasked with taking your PR work global, don’t forget you have a wealth of knowledge within BBN — and the practitioners are ready
An International Case Study
Client: Eastman Chemical Company
Eastman Chemical Company manufactures chemicals, fibers and plastics, all of which are key ingredients in products people use every day. Eastman works closely with customers to deliver innovative products and solutions.
One of those products is Eastman Drystar™ copolyester, a unique, durable plastic option in the Asia-Pacific region. Drystar creates a glasslike effect without the flaws or punch marks that can be found in other plastics.
Eastman’s customer Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) is one of the largest home and personal care companies in India. GCPL constantly innovates to delight consumers with more exciting, superior quality products at affordable prices, and that work includes looking for new materials, such as Drystar, for their products’ packaging.
In 2015, Eastman’s Asia-Pacific office worked with GCPL to develop a news release announcing a new hair care product line called BBlunt. The product line used DryStar to create bright, unique packaging. With the news distribution, Eastman also wanted to increase awareness of Drystar in the region and provide its sales team with a tangible customer example to prove the material’s applicability to this market.
Understanding the vast connections BBN USA has with resourceful and knowledgeable agencies around the world, Eastman looked to it to coordinate the news release distribution in India. To do so, BBN USA worked BBN Singapore for media relations assistance in India. For this project, BBN USA worked as the lead agency, serving as the hub between Eastman and BBN Singapore. This approach was the key to carrying out successful media relations tactics — BBN USA knew Eastman’s product and BBN Singapore knew the local market.
With its understanding of and local connections to the media landscape in India, BBN Singapore developed a media list of Indian outlets. The agency and BBN USA also recommended Eastman make the release content as relevant as possible to this specific market, which included using a quote from BBlunt and referencing other Asia-Pacific brands using Drystar.
After distributing the release to those targeted outlets, the team contacted reporters directly, monitored for media coverage and delivered a final coverage report for Eastman to review and share with the customer.
Within four weeks, the news release distributed by BBN Singapore was covered by 42 media outlets in India, including top-tier business publications such as Bloomberg, The Financial Express, Economic Times and Zee News. This coverage far exceeded our expectations; similar releases generally receive coverage from 20 to 25 media outlets. With more than 40 million impressions, the Eastman release coverage had an advertisement equivalency of more than $17,000.
By collaborating a BBN agency was able to help its client target outlets more effectively and efficiently, increasing the likelihood of media coverage. By teaming with a regional agency, BBN USA better met Eastman’s needs in an international market, delivering applicable news to a specific audience through appropriate channels.
the art of staying calm in a crisis
When organisations hire public relations firms their first thought is often how the consultants can help them gain visibility in the first instance and, if everything goes according to plan, how to gain favourability in the long term.
The flip side of the coin is that if things go wrong and organisations are faced with a crisis you need PR specialists who can help.
By Hannah Rumbles, BBN UK (Scotland)
Defining a crisis
For the purposes of corporate communications a crisis can be defined as an event or situation that causes the company to be the subject of negative attention from stakeholders and the media. Stakeholders can be defined as shareholders, employees (and their families), politicians, statutory bodies, environmental groups and – of course – the media.
The main point of crisis management is to make sure a bad situation doesn’t get worse. By the time you realise you have a crisis, it is too late for avoidance behaviour – it’s time to face up and deal with it.
Things that constitute a crisis are likely to include: loss of life, product defects, computer failure, environmental pollution; financial difficulties/ mismanagement; labour disputes/industrial tribunals; terrorism; criminality and ‘acts of God’.
Crisis? What crisis?
The simple rule of thumb is to accept Murphy’s Law – “What can go wrong, will go wrong”, so ensure there is a planned response and process in place. It’s essential to ensure that your company spokespeople have candour, honesty and integrity so their delivery of correct messaging is deemed trustworthy.
Former BP chief executive Tony Hayward was a high profile victim of foot-in-mouth disease during Macondo. What he likely meant was that he wanted everything to go back to normal, but inappropriate phrasing meant that what was heard, was that he “wanted to get his life back”. A comment easily misconstrued as a self-serving comment and one that contributed to the public reaction towards BP as a result of Macondo.
Of course, not all crises are so severe – a private (and very intimate) email sent from a company employee to her boyfriend was sent in error to everyone in the organisation – no sooner had that happened than it went viral – and the organisation had to deal with a slew of press inquiries. You can be pretty sure the company senior management hadn’t planned to spend time dealing with that kind of issue. 24-hour news, Facebook and Twitter all allow stakeholders, commentators and experts the opportunity to wildly speculate as a news story unfolds, with potentially unfounded damages to those parties involved.
When dealing with a crisis there are some basic principles that hold true for almost every scenario. There are some simple rules to adhere to: provide consistent, accurate and regular updates and ensure an information vacuum does not occur.
Messages must always take into account the following topics: People; Environment; Asset; Reputation – or PEAR, for short. This handy acronym is based on the priorities of the public (and therefore news organisations).
The welfare of personnel and others is always the first thing to consider. Secondly, we all want to know what impact your crisis will have on the wider environment. You must then consider how company assets – be it an oil rig or a factory – will be affected. Only when these first three elements are addressed should the reputation management be prioritised i.e. it may be shutdown for a significant period of time. By looking after these aspects, a well managed crisis communications programme can go a long way to ensuring that reputation management begins on the right footing.
Dealing with the crisis
So what can be done? Detailed below is the framework we would urge organisations to follow when planning crisis management:
- Tell, don’t spin. Spokespeople must be factually accurate and refrain from commentary. Stay focused on the details of the response effort
- Obtain help from statutory bodies. Police, ambulance, government or whichever department is dealing with the crisis could and should be consulted and urged to take a greater role in a joint information process. The public needs to understand there is a highly-trained, experienced team working to put things right
- Once the story is up and running at the top of the news agenda and if it’s a big enough issue – organise daily news briefings with up-to-date progress reports. Ideally you want someone that people will trust to provide technical information
- Accept there is likely be a ‘rush to judgement’ in the media and prepare a swift and robust response to inaccurate reporting ‘Never say nothing’ – nature and the media hates a vacuum. Speculation, comment and vested interests will gleefully fill the void created by your company’s silence. Be proactive and anticipate the worst-case scenario
- Identify stakeholders and work out what to say to each audience by anticipating what their particular concerns are going to be. How your company reacts in a crisis will speak far louder than expensive corporate adverts
- Accept your punishment: if there have been failings it is better to face these, deal with them, ensure lessons are learned and move forward.
Be open, work with the authorities and the media and move forward
- Monitor the media both online and offline to gauge mood and sentiment
- Train your response: we exercise with our major clients on a monthly basis – and we work together to introduce realistic scenarios. In a major incident it’s going to be executives making the decisions and taking the lead – they have to have the correct training. A media consultant has to be part of any incident team. Independent specialists can offer objective advice, broach the difficult questions and help formulate answers
- Get the web working for you: direct the media and public to a dedicated site that is activated when an incident occurs – press statements, fast facts, photographs and video should be made available. Online and social media offer direct and immediate communication with the public so make sure you respond to them quickly and update the site regularly. Journalists can have accurate, informative copy and will appreciate the company is making efforts to engage
BBN on B2B: The Blog
B2B marketing insights, ideas, views and BBN news. Keep your finger on the global pulse here.
We'll include some of our latest posts right here each month, but please visit the BBN blog for more great content, contributed by our agencies and partners.
On the BBN Blog
28 March 2016
As we enter the 2nd quarter of 2016 some are still wondering what this year will bring. What can we, for example, expect in the area of B2B marketing? What are the most important trends and evolutions? We have evaluated and assessed the most important predictions. The result is something between a trend list and a wish list. Therefore, Twends.
By Peter Foubert - BBN Belgium
21 March 2016
You know them… outdated companies that have no intention of wanting to change until revenues and profits are seriously in decline.
By Kirsten van Poppel - BBN Netherlands
16 March 2016
Social media burst into the rigid world of marketing like a meteor into the world of the brontosauruses. In B2B, it’s been a little slower, but new report from Circle Research and B2B Marketing Magazine reveals that the allure of social media in B2B is growing rapidly.
By Ivo Vrana - BBN Czech Republic
14 March 2016
They can check-out any time they like, but they can never leave! Client-agency relationships tend to become shorter and shorter.
By Nathalie Hakansson - BBN Sweden
WHY IS B2B MARKET RESEARCH THE POOR COUSIN?
7 March 2016
In his latest blog for the Market Research Society’s news and insight hub Research Live, Circle Research’s Andrew Dalglish explores why business-to-business companies need research just as much as consumer-facing ones…
By Andrew Dalglish - BBN Strategic Partner Circle
FIVE TIPS TO SUCCEED IN B2B MARKETING EVENTS
29 February 2016
Great tips for suceeding in B2B evetns right from choosing the right location and venue to measuring your success.
By Clifford Fairbrass - BBN Australia
22 February 2016
“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark”
The same goes for brands.
By Marla Reinstein - BBN Canada
HOW TO DO AN APPRAISAL OF YOUR WEBSITE
18 February 2016
Your company website is always at work. How long Is it since your key salesman got a status meeting? Do you invest as much in your website as you invest in your sales team?
By Erik Eskedal - BBN Norway
14 February 2016
If you’re a B2B CMO, you are Don Corleone; Social Media is narcotics.
By Rory Vieyra - BBN UK (London)
10 February 2016
One number in the recently published B2B Barometer study caught my eye. Two thirds (64%) of B2B marketers describe programmatic advertising as irrelevant. That’s striking because an estimated 59% of digital ad spend in the UK, that’s £1.8 billion, is programmatic and next year it’s forecast to reach 70%. Yet, most B2B marketers still don’t see it as relevant. Odd.
By Andrew Dalglish - Strategic Partner - Circle Research