It’s a PR tale as old as time: “we want to be on the front page of the Financial Times, New York Times, Australian Financial Review, De Telegraaf…” Why, we ask? Invariably, it comes down to a personal desire of a marketer, or an executive, who wants to see their brand’s name in lights.
As public relations and marketing consultants, we still have to spend time understanding exactly why clients think broad brush coverage is the best outcome of a comms program, especially when there is a niche target audience they need to reach to meet their marketing and business objectives.
Don’t misunderstand me, there’s a very valid and important place for regular business and national coverage in external comms. But when your business objectives are to increase awareness within a specific audience group that buys your product or service - like Chief Underwriting Officers, Enterprise Architects, or people over 60 who own their own home - there just might be another way…
Finding the audience that matters
This isn’t a blog about audience intelligence. But, it is an important piece of the puzzle in getting earned media right. Buyer personas and audience mapping are essential to ensure PR teams understand who they’re targeting, and why.
To build this knowledge, there are numerous ways your PR team can understand what your audiences truly care about. For example:
- Getting close with product marketing - these teams are a huge untapped resource for PR teams, and often have the most in-depth knowledge of both competitors and audiences. Can you set up a call with a product marketing lead for your agency to pick their brains?
- Joining sales calls - introducing PR teams to the sales department gives them the chance to ask what audiences really care about, key objections that arise, and recurring themes. Can they even attend a sales call to listen in and get to know the customer profile better?
- Chatting with advisory boards - if you’re a startup or scale-up, you may have an advisory board helping make connections between your business and the industry. Can your PR team speak to them to understand what they cared about most when they were in the role you’re looking to target?
Setting the right objectives
Planning should also start with the organization’s business objectives. This means you can then set the right goals to guide the communications program towards delivering genuine ROI.
There are lots of ways to get this right. At Clarity, we build bespoke versions of our proprietary Impact Framework for every client to show how our PR objectives help to meet those of the business, defining our target audiences and the strategy that will get us there at the same time.
If sales are the business goal for example, have you defined the audience you need to reach in order to hit that goal?
When I worked in-house at a tech company, we had two distinct user groups: buyers and users. Our comms objectives for reaching the buyer were tailored towards lead generation, conversion and sales, while user-focused objectives were linked with getting feedback and evolving the product. As you can see, these were heavily linked to the business’s requirements and they directly informed the objectives of our comms program.
Ensuring your objectives are specific and audience-focused means you can build the best strategy and approach to hit them. And these objectives, spoiler alert, often won’t be met through coverage on the front page of the FT.
When earned media becomes a paid asset
Generating media coverage is a great way to get in front of your audience. But true targeting comes from ensuring you're laser-focused on which publications your audience is reading, and by pushing content directly under their nose with paid campaigns
Taking the example of the Chief Underwriting Officer. This person may well be reading the FT, but is also highly likely to be influenced by what they see in Insurance Times or Insurance Insider.
There are some well-trodden tactics that help to target top-tier trade titles like these, for example:
- Unique and interesting thought leadership, with genuine differentiation in the market that speaks directly to the concerns of your target audience
- Customer interviews, if you’re a vendor, to give readers the chance to hear from their peers
- Local industry data, which is even better if you can offer it exclusively
What we can never do though, no matter how great the coverage, is guarantee that your top prospects will read the piece simply by it being published. To make sure the right people are getting the message, we recommend adding paid social to your list of tactics.
Using paid social means you can ensure the coverage reaches the companies and/or the personas you want to target with your key message (and ultimately who will help you hit your business goals). Depending on how a paid campaign is built, you can then measure its success through impressions (awareness), engagement (consideration), and even clicks (web traffic, and even lead generation and conversion).
Targeting a niche audience is necessary and important for many businesses, particularly in the B2B world. Building thoughtful, integrated communications and marketing strategies that speak directly to these audiences is the most direct route to meeting your business goals.
Please do get in touch with me on Linkedin here to discuss or share your thoughts!
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