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What is an earned media strategy in B2B marketing?

By November 15, 2022No Comments

Marketers, ever seen an article in a trade publication and thought one of your company’s SMEs could have written it?

Spoiler alert: editors aren’t sitting around calling marketing departments to solicit articles from your leadership on the topics near and dear to your heart—especially in B2B.

What you’re seeing is likely a contributed article that is part of a sustained earned media public relations strategy.

Earned media placements are articles on topics that have been accepted for publication as a result of a pitch sent to an editor or reporter—and they are not easy to secure.

These articles must be educational (i.e., non-promotional) in nature and are not placed in exchange for money. Put another way, editors are looking for content their readers can’t get anywhere else and the last thing they’re looking for is a list of your product’s features and benefits.

As the lines between marketing, public relations, and communications continue to blur, more and more marketers find themselves playing a role in their organization’s PR initiatives without sufficient background or experience.

So, let’s dive into some of the considerations of an earned media strategy in B2B marketing.

Managing your writing resources and trade-offs

Before you pitch the media or hire someone to do so on your behalf, you have to think about how your marketing team will supply the accepted articles and/or subject matter expertise.

Here are two common ways an accepted pitch sees the light of day:

  1. A reporter interviews your organization’s SME(s) and writes the article
  2. The editor asks your company to write the article using specific guidelines by a certain date

In both scenarios, the marketing team must be ready to act quickly.

While at first blush, it may seem easier to have a reporter write the article, the trade-off is that you have far less control over the message, and the article may not hit on your desired talking points. Your SMEs must also have media training and be prepped for any and every interview.

If your team has to write the article, do you have the resources and talent in-house, or will you have to hire a freelancer? To further complicate the situation, what if three pitches are accepted in the same month?

Further, if you cannot provide a well-written article by the requested deadline, you risk damaging your organization’s reputation with the editor, and the chances of them accepting a future pitch are unlikely.

Before embarking on an earned media strategy, you must plan how your organization will source the articles for accepted pitches and have a realistic understanding of the time commitment required of your SMEs.

Pro-tip: Don’t wait until a pitch is accepted! Identify multiple SMEs and writers in advance so that you have a go-to stable of resources to contact as soon as a pitch is accepted.

Prioritizing your media list

In keeping with our theme of limited resources, identifying a list of publications in which you want articles to appear will help you prioritize your efforts in securing media placements.

The key is to secure placements in the publications that your target audience reads. In B2B, these will primarily be your industry’s trade journals. For example, if you are trying to reach health system executives, Becker’s is one of the leading publications this audience reads.

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies come to us saying they want to be in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

B2B marketers should spend their limited PR resources securing media placements in the trade publications that your buyers and influencers read to learn about their business.

The vast majority of people who read the NYT or WSJ will never care about your B2B product or service. So if you’re already spreading your writing resources and SMEs thin, why compound the problem by asking them to work on articles your target audience is unlikely to see?

That being said, mainstream news and business publications may be relevant for your B2B marketing goals, but only after you’ve made a significant investment in trades. A strong trade media presence builds your credibility and creates an environment where an article in the NYT or WSJ elevates your company profile.

Crafting pitches for stories that resonate

Once you have your resources lined up and know the best publications to get in front of your target audience—only then should you craft pitches.

A well-honed pitch is:

  • Unique to the publication and the editor or reporter you are sending it to
  • Relevant and valuable to the media’s readership or audience
  • Non-promotional

One final element of your strategy is that you should also have news that is, well, newsworthy.

Remember, even niche trade journals are not interested in your widgets and marketing copy. They are interested in your customer’s successes in overcoming industry challenges, mergers and acquisitions, and new approaches to old problems. A successful pitch leans into newsworthy stories and may even be accompanied by a press release.

Level up your B2B earned media PR strategy

Ready to take your B2B earned media public relations strategy to the next level? Social media has changed traditional PR. It’s essential to partner with a B2B healthcare marketing agency who understands the media landscape and the content marketing expertise to deliver high-quality contributed articles to the media.

Let’s talk.

Melanie Hilliard

Author Melanie Hilliard

Melanie is an Account Director and Content Lead at Clarity Quest. Nothing makes her heart sing more than fantastic marketing. To learn more about Melanie's experiences and qualifications, visit our leadership team page.

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