Yes, digital strategies are key to successful PR campaigns (6 out of 10 communications professionals agree). But for Jamie Kightley, Head of Client Services at IBA International, B2B Marketers must not overlook the power of memory recall despite the digital rush to the brain. To succeed in this new environment, powerful PR campaigns must look to combine new and traditional tactics in order to increase brand awareness.
PR agencies cutting corners in their communications strategies, passing them off as ‘earned media’ is far and few between, but not all are innocent! A freelance tech journalist once shared on social media how a well-known London PR Agency had offered monetary incentives for featuring their clients in their editorial submissions. This story highlighted the harsh reality on how a small number of PR professionals and journalists are looking for quick wins in the media strategies – but it doesn’t pay off in the long run!
This is the perfect opportunity to establish how B2B communications professionals can make use of SEO, backlinks, and ‘brain engine optimisation’ to secure quality earned media coverage in top-tier publications – without the hefty price tag!
1. PR and SEO make the perfect match
Most B2B marketing teams will recognise the value of SEO. Recent research shows that organic search accounts for over half of overall web traffic, so with these clear results, SEO should be at the forefront of every B2B strategy to encourage web visits. It all starts at the content generation stage.
Be it a blog on a company website full of relevant keywords or making sure that paid visibility is up to scratch, when executed well, the benefits of an effective SEO strategy are plain to see. Any PR strategy should encompass a focus on keywords for every content format, including press releases, articles, blogs, or even social posts. This doesn’t involve jamming content with keywords to the point where it makes no sense. Instead, PR professionals will have better luck with carefully crafted copy that ties a B2B organisation to keywords with core industry or market theme links.
If B2B organisations consistently appear on authoritative third-party domains and have organic content rank high due to SEO, it can provide a convincing stage to demonstrate industry leadership. Journalists are busier than ever and no longer have time to evaluate who is the best organisation from each industry. According to Cision’s latest ‘Global State of the Media Report’, 43% of journalists cover five or more beats, which is a hefty editorial backlog to clear week-on-week. This is where features on a ‘top x players’ list can help organisations stand out as a top competitor in their respective industry – and has the added benefit of reaching potential clients.
However important digital SEO proves to be, it’s important to think closer to home and utilise the most important search engine – the brain.
2. Don’t underestimate the power of memory recall
With continual advancements in the digital world each week, it’s easy to forget what really drives the majority of B2B sales – it’s people. According to research, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, but searching begins far before a consumer looks at a screen, it all begins with memory recall. Similarly to B2C, all B2B customer experiences begin with a preliminary internal memory search, followed by making use of a search engine for an online check.
According to the mere-exposure effect, familiarity principle or cognitive resonance theory, the brain favours things that are familiar – even if that familiarity is subconscious. Brands that are more memorable are more likely to be trusted – and this is where mental cues come in. PR professionals can use this method to build brand recognition and reputation online in the same way SEO and backlinks do, even before the need to purchase arises.
With brain engine optimisation helping to link memory recall to a search on Google – how can PR professionals ensure that traffic is being directed back to the site? This is where backlinks play their essential role.
3. Bring it home with embedded backlinks
Backlinks are links directing online traffic from one website to a page on another website. All major search engines consider backlinks as “votes” for a specific page and as indicators of quality content that has the support of other websites. Google considers authoritative backlinks as one of the most important signals for ranking content, which makes it a vital part of any SEO strategy.
The ability to dominate search results is one thing, but ensuring click-through straight to a company’s website is a vital goal for any SEO-driven PR campaign. That’s why all placed copy should include backlinks to relevant pages on company websites. Click-through from backlinks in organic content can be tracked through UTM codes, marketing platforms such as Hubspot, or through website analytics tools such as Google Analytics.
Quality links begin with quality content. Content that is genuinely interesting, useful, and original can score credible backlinks and help organisations keep a good ranking on sites such as Google. PR professionals can engage directly with journalists to place earned media content in target publications to build brand awareness through thought leadership and ensure that embedded backlinks provide a clear route for company websites to be visited by a highly relevant audience.
These days, any successful SEO strategy requires going the extra mile by building authentic backlinks from distinguished sources.
Combine digital and traditional tactics for the ultimate PR success
In this digital age, search engine optimisation is essential for any communications professional. As online media platforms grow and attract a bigger audience, there is ample opportunity for B2B businesses to use digital tactics such as backlinks. But, B2B PR and Marketing professionals mustn’t forget the effectiveness of making use of the brain.
The right combination of digital and traditional strategies can ensure a strong brand presence!
Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International, a B2B PR agency serving global technology clients.
Jamie has over 8 years experience in the PR industry and is responsible for designing, planning and implementing social media and public relations strategy for the company’s business-to-business clients, spanning North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.