Media relations is a priority in most business-to-business companies … and it isn’t cheap. You can accumulate quite a bill with PR agencies by the end of the year in your effort to crank out press releases, hit up journalists for interviews and get your company’s name out into the press. There’s always going to be some sort of place for this in your corporate marketing mix, but what if you could take more control over the process? Using a corporate blog, you can take at least part of the conversation straight to your target market and not have to rely on the press to help you out.
Control is always an issue. Unlike other forms of marketing – from social media to direct – dealing with the media means surrendering control of your message. You can participate in an interview or drop a press release to wire, and you don’t know what will show up in print or online until you see it. Some outlets are a bit more forgiving, especially in the trade media space, but the only way to skip the reporter’s filter is to buy an ad instead – or secure placement for an article written by your company. Doing this, however, can cost you reach, money and credibility. A balancing act is involved, and it isn’t always comfortable.
So, what if you could take the media out of the equation?
With a corporate blog, you can put your message out into the market in your own words, without having to worry about whether a journalist’s story will mention your competitors, interpret your findings differently (or question them entirely) or, quite frankly, say anything that you aren’t. You and your team craft the message, secure the requisite approvals and publish it on your own timeline. You may decide to promote it through the media (along with other channels), but ultimately, you are taking your message directly to your clients and prospects – i.e., the people who matter most to you. Your reach may not be as vast, but you know it will be highly relevant, a challenge that continues to vex even the most focused of PR efforts.
This only works, of course, if you have invested in developing your audience and keeping it engaged. To this end, corporate blogging is an ongoing activity: it isn’t something you do just once. Over time, as you’ve accumulated readers and generated some commitment to your content among them, you’ll be able to take to them directly what you used to take to the press with fingers crossed for lots of pickups and favorable coverage. Given the right social media marketing plan, your corporate blog may come to rival some trade publications in readership, especially if measured by the subset of their subscribers that you actually want to reach.
Does this mean you can invest in your blog and ditch PR? Of course not.
There are some areas and issues where you’ll want to ensure your media relationships are in order, especially if your company is dealing with a crisis, or if you want to take the lead on an issue in the press before (or at the expense of) your competitors. Additionally, you’ll probably want to use your PR team to promote your corporate blog. The difference, however, is that your company won’t be as reliant on the media; you’ll regain some control over your message.
The right mix will differ for every company, but B2B marketing teams can find that corporate blogging can have the same effect as PR … though at a lower cost and with better results. Don’t give up on PR, but be sure not to rely too heavily on the reporters who cover you.
[photo by KC Toh via Flickr]