6 Ways to Guarantee Your PR Pitch to B2B Bloggers Will Be Deleted

As a popular blog in the B2B space, SocialMediaB2B.com get lots of pitches from PR firms about a variety of social media topics. Most of them get deleted without even getting read. It is a PR pro’s job to get coverage for their clients and many still don’t understand how to do that in the blog space. Based on some of the emails we receive, here are the fastest ways to guarantee that your pitch email will get deleted and you will not get the coverage you are looking to attain.

1. Send just a press release

This is an insulting email. There is no greeting or even pretend personalization. It is also the quickest way to get a blogger to click delete. This says to bloggers that someone thinks blogger outreach is important, but I don’t. I’ll just email out the press release and check off the “blogger outreach” box on my status report.

2. Send off-topic pitches

Many bloggers have a passion for their topic, and no matter how broad that topic is, they rarely stray too far from home. Before pitching a blogger, make sure you have looked at the blog and read the last 5-10 posts to get an idea of what they cover and what kinds of posts they publish. Even with a name like SocialMediaB2B, you would be surprised how many pitches we get for consumer social media campaigns. If it’s not B2B, we are not going to cover it.

3. Send a blast email from an email service provider

I know email marketers hate the term blast, but in this context, it is the correct one. While it might make things easier for you to load up bloggers into your email program and send an email out to your whole list, it does not send the right message to blogger. We want to feel special. By doing this you are also giving bloggers an unsubscribe button. They will usually click that to prevent hearing from you again.

4. Don’t introduce yourself

B2B sales and marketing are about relationships. Social media is about relationships. Blogger and influencer outreach are about relationships. There seems to a trend here. Why not build a relationship with a blogger before your next announcement? You can make a blogger’s day by sending a short email introducing yourself as the pr person for a company that might be relevant to their space. Ask if you can help them with anything. Most bloggers have more ideas than time, and running the blog is a matter of priorities. If your company is indeed relevant, there probably is something on their mind that can move to the top of the pile now that they have a connection for information.

5. Forget that bloggers may not blog during business hours

Most bloggers have day jobs. Contact them via email, or another way if they suggest a preferred method of contact. Unless your pitch is the right idea at the right time, don’t ever expect a phone call back. It’s not how many bloggers work. If a blogger is knowledgeable in an industry, have you checked out to see if they work for a competitor. In niche industries that can be very likely.

6. Pitch an interview with the CEO

Maybe this is just me, but every time I read a pitch that offers me an interview with a CEO of a company I just laugh. Maybe that’s supposed to make me feel important, but if I want to cover a product launch, I would be more interested in talking to a product manager or an engineer. As a blogger, I would expect that CEO’s comments would be too prepared and not provide enough value to my readers. Bloggers are looking to provide the most compelling information to their readers, and you may not get that from the CEO. They are probably going to give you something very much like the quote in the press release.

What are other ways to guarantee that bloggers won’t read pitch emails?

More Ways To Know If Your B2B Company is Social Media-Ready

Last week I wrote a post about how to know if customer service reps at a B2B company are ready for social media. I want to continue that idea and start to understand social media adoption or acceptance in other functions of the business.

Marketing Staff
Many readers are marketing professionals who started using social media profiles on their own to learn how it applies to their company. There is usually one strong advocate for social media (dear reader) in a marketing department, maybe even an evangelist. Everyone in marketing should know by now that social media is no longer a fad and can drive business, but there is a large education gap. It is your job as the evangelist to determine what that education gap is. Help others in the organization get more out of their social profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn. Recommend some Facebook Pages to follow. Share your favorite SocialMediaB2B articles with them. That’s why there’s an email share button at the bottom of every post.

PR / Corporate Communications
PR professionals have been trained to control the company message. That is just not possible anymore. PR pros who are ready for social media have learned that they can take their skills and apply them in new ways. Creating content requires a commitment of resources, and as much of it is written, that task can be managed by a PR team who is used to cranking out releases. They may need to lighten up on some of the approval processes, though. Relationship building skills also translate to reaching out to online influencers, but the PR pros need to understand that an email press release to bloggers doesn’t build a relationship. Asking the intern to send individual emails doesn’t do it either.

Sales Force
Many sale people are willing to accept social media ideas, but they are concerned that it will take too much time. Tools and workflows that bring social conversations into their normal routine or CRM systems will help them see the value of having more context for communicating with customers and prospectives. Sales people are results-oriented and need to be shown successes of their efforts. This means it is important to track sources of everything, so social media approaches can get the proper credit for driving business. Talk to other companies who are doing this, and see if you can connect your sales manager with their sales manager.

Executive Team
Every executive has smart phone. They understand the change that mobile is bringing to B2B companies. This makes it easier to sell the idea of using social media to drive business as another coming change. People who have risen to this level in an organization understand networking, relationships and connections, which are parts of social media. They also want to see results. Intellectually they are ready to see social media succeed. And emotionally, they want the same thing. “My B2B company is doing a fantastic job using social media,” are words that executives want to utter. But there is a fear that it will fail. The best way to overcome the fear is to set up a pilot project with regular updates to an executive contact. Set realistic goals that can be met, but know that it can take some time. These are things that should run parallel to other communications efforts.

Legal Department
The legal department will never really be ready for social media at a large B2B company. One way to help them understand what social media can do, and its place in a corporate communications environment is to point to other large companies who are using social media. If more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 100 are using social media, there are ways legal departments have become comfortable with the various aspects of the approach. Another thing to try is to find other attorneys who advise companies on social media, or even someone from a corporate legal department willing to speak to your company’s attorneys. Search for legal blogs and attorneys speaking at conferences to find those adept at social media.

Ad Agency
Many traditional ad agencies are used to campaign-driven plans based around big ideas. While big ideas have a place in social media, it is much more about the setting processes in place that will help a company succeed over the long term. Every tweet and every Facebook update does not need to be carefully wordsmithed, but they do need to have an appropriate tone and be part of the larger story. Look to ad agency partners to leverage their strengths like strategy, branding and design. Many agencies are still catching up with the execution of social media, and make sure their approach matches yours.

What are your biggest challenges with other functions’ social media acceptance or adoption in your B2B organization?

Thinking about a B2B Social Media Crisis Communication Plan

Once a B2B company reaches a certain size, you begin considering hiring a public relations firm to help get your message out using an earned media approach. One of the first recommendations of many PR plans includes developing crisis communication documents. There are two primary reasons for this. Your new agency wants to encourage you to make good decisions and craft well-thought-out responses when your company is not under the pressure and scrutiny of a crisis. This will make your ultimate response better. They also want to be aware of any skeletons in your closet as a means of assessing the need for a crisis plan. This is a big part of PR and people who specialize in this field can give you many more justifications and examples for why this is a good idea, but I just want to use its essence of being prepared with regard to social media.

You may have heard of the recent coordinated attack on the Nestle Facebook page. If not, here’s a search result page. Even though much has been written about it, and it’s not the point of this post, here are my thoughts on what Nestle should do in this specific situation:

  • Create a statement that addresses community concern and clear change of policy.
  • Post this statement on their home page.
  • Resume tweeting and continue to post this statement.
  • Create a landing page on Facebook with this statement. This way the first view of their Facebook page is the statement, not the wall filled with negative comments.
  • While there is no way to stop the comments on the wall, they should create discussion topics and encourage commenters to leave their comments in the discussion threads. This gives Nestle a bit more control and starts to move the comments off the wall.

As you begin thinking about a social media crisis communication plan, look at your pr crisis communication plan. Based on that approach and those documents, here are some steps to begin developing a similar plan for social media outlets.

  • Review all potential issues that are included in your pr plan and prepare social media content around each one.
  • Create tweets that respond to issues with a link to a statement.
  • Determine if you will respond directly to other Twitter users, and if so, in what tone. Social media responses differ from pr responses, as you are communicating with individual people directly, but in a public forum.
  • Know when to take conversations off-line. The answer may be for anything beyond the initial public statement.
  • Establish a Facebook response approach. Because wall posts become permanently associated with your brand, unless you take them down, you must understand how to respond, if you are responding at all.
  • Think about a response on LinkedIn, where there may be no mention of the crisis issue at all. Publish your statement in any groups in which your company or employees are active. This pro-active approach will earn you some respect on the most professional of social networks.
  • Consider a video response for YouTube. While many CEO or executive videos seem canned or stilted, remember that you are communicating with people, and a video may be another way to speak directly to people. The preparation for this would involve determining the appropriate person for different situations and determining the shooting location. It might not be the corporate video studio.
  • Review your social media presence and craft a unique response strategy for each online community where you have a following. This includes forums, social bookmarking sites and industry specific communities.
  • Don’t forget about your employees. They are all now public representatives of your company and they will want to share information with their networks. And they will want positive and honest information that they are comfortable sharing. The last thing they want to do is promote corporate double talk around an issue. Their mom might even be their friend on Facebook.

Have you started thinking about a social media crisis communication strategy? What other things have you included?

Blackberry Apps for B2B Public Relations Pros

Building off last week’s BlackBerry apps for B2B marketers, we’re back with more BlackBerry apps for B2B public relations professionals.

As our society becomes more and more mobile, it’s even more important for a PR pro to effectively execute his or her main job responsibilities – press releases, speeches, media relations, social media, press conferences and event planning, to name just a few – on the go.

Many of the apps I wrote about for B2B marketers translate well into the PR industry: A host of Twitter clients help PR pros navigate between client accounts, keep an eye out for journalists looking for article sources and stay on top of industry news; mobile versions of WordPress and TypePad streamline live-blogging; and location-based apps such as Foursquare facilitate peer-to-peer networking and media relations.

Here are a few more BlackBerry apps that help PR pros reach the ultimate goal of connecting organizations and businesses with interested journalists and customers:

1. Evernote

Evernote – billed as an extension of your own mind – allows you to organize tasks and To Do lists, record voice memos and instantly synchronize everything from your phone to the Web to your desktop.

For PR pros, this translates into an easy way to keep up with press clips for clip books, manage inspiration for future blog, newsletter and Web content and organize notes from client meetings.

2. AP Mobile

Media monitoring is a key job function in PR, and AP Mobile makes searching content published by the Associated Press (as well as more than 1,000 outlets of its members) simple.

The app also has a local news option customizable by one or more zip codes, and integrates delicious bookmarks, Facebook and e-mail sharing features that let users send articles to clients and co-workers.

Beyond the Associated Press, BlackBerry users can also keep up with Time, Bloomberg, CBS News and Business Week through their mobile apps.

3. Dictionary.com

Just like a mechanic’s set of wrenches, a key part of a PR pro’s toolkit is a dictionary/thesaurus.

The Dictionary.com app, the only free dictionary app available for the BlackBerry, puts more than 500,000 words at your fingertips, and phonetic and audio pronunciations help to ensure a tricky word in that speech you just crafted for your CEO isn’t mangled beyond comprehension.

4. miTimesheet

For PR pros on the agency side, there is nothing more dreaded (beyond a 4 a.m. wake-up call alerting you to a breaking crisis) than keeping track of billable hours for a variety of clients. Enter the miTimesheet app ($3.99), which allows users to track clients by project, as well as export that info via email.

5. Qik Live Video Streaming

Social media tools have given PR pros more opportunities to disseminate content directly to the end-user. With the Qik app, you can live stream video content directly from your BlackBerry, automatically archive footage and instantly share on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This app would be especially handy for press conferences, tweetups, award shows and tradeshows.

What BlackBerry apps have helped you in your role as a public relations professional?

The 80-20 Rule of B2B Social Media

Everyone knows about the 80-20 rule. No matter how you analyze your B2B company, it always comes back to within a few percentage points of 80-20. 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. While this one is usually okay if those 20% are stable customers, it’s the other common one that is troublesome. 80% of your resources seem to be spent on the customers responsible for only 20% of your revenue. This is the one that can’t possibly be true. It feels anecdotal. It’s just staff complaining about all the handholding required by the small customers. The reality is that larger customers are more efficient and your staff really does spend an inordinate amount of time with those responsible for only 20%.

Now let’s look at how the 80-20 rule applies to social media. Since social media is still so new in many B2B organizations, managers have not been running the numbers in a strict fashion to determine the value and ROI of the programs and campaigns. People still focus on the wrong numbers. How many followers, fans, retweets did you get? Sure this is a measurement of reach of the message, but if it is not aimed at a targeted audience, it is of little value. So many traditional marketers and seasoned PR folks throw their training and their instincts out the window for social media. They suffer from bright, shiny object syndrome. Many approaches are just not focused properly.

This is not the way social media will succeed and survive in B2B companies. Social media must be held to the same standards as other communication initiatives. If you can’t figure out how to engage with your target audience on social media, don’t do it. Be authentic. Be transparent. But your goal still needs to drive your target audience to a call to action. What do you need them to do that translates into sales?

What happened to 80-20? Well, it turns out that the social media audience that you are fitfully chasing is part of the 20% of your business. Why don’t you focus your social media efforts on the customers responsible for 80% of your revenue? Remember these are the customers that don’t require handholding. They currently don’t require excessive resources. Stop chasing the little guys and work with the big customers. They are already efficient. Use social media to make them more efficient. That would increase sales.

Sit down and spend some time to find their pain points. They probably relate to things like product information and shipping information. Set up private wikis or forums to post that internal information just for their eyes. Establish closed social networks for interaction with product managers. Set up video chats or webinars. Anything you have seen on the social web can be password protected and kept private. Treat these customers like they are responsible for 80% of your revenue and give them the tools they need to run their business. Oh yeah, they are responsible for 80% of your revenue.

What are some other ways you can leverage your business information in social ways to help your best customers?