Richard Cook

17 September 2019

We often hear that PR’s primary output, earned media, is being used as an awareness tool that provides top of the funnel air cover to brands that want to increase sales. This view certainly used to make sense when B2B buyers were specialists, with time on their hands to investigate a subject via a handful of industry specialist and broader business publications each week.

But the world has changed. Today’s B2B decision maker tends to be younger, less of a specialist, time-poor and flooded with information from a variety of sources. This is according to research by LinkedIn (Rethinking the B2B Buyers Journey), which also recommends that brands produce content that assists the prospect rather than selling to the prospect.

In this environment, another challenge with editorial coverage is that it is increasingly rare to get a back link from a publication. This does not mean that earned media is without value - in fact, earned media has never been more impactful when used correctly. The value of validation, credibility and trust is at a premium for business development executives looking to nurture opportunities in the B2B world. The vast majority of business development executives use content to nurture and progress these conversations. According to research from SiriusDecisions, on average, salespeople use more than 17 pieces of content to enable the selling process. As such, organisations are investing more and more in developing content for all stages of the buyer journey.

The right media coverage can be incredibly powerful when in the hands of the right business development executive. The challenge is often making sure that is in the hands of the business development team in the first place. We know this because we have launched a Coverage Impact Monitor which identifies which editorial assets are being used to best effect to nurture opportunities. We find that in most cases, B2B sales teams are not aware of, let alone using the PR coverage that has been earned by the brand. We also see, that when the sales teams do get the opportunity to show coverage to prospects, things start to happen. Conversations are started or progressed, meetings take place and deals follow. PR doesn’t do this on its own, it can’t, but it can make it easier for sales executives to cut through the noise.

PR coverage shouldn’t be merely displayed in the reception of a company but should be viewed as dynamic catalogue of third-party endorsement that has been generated by trusted industry experts, journalists, and used as a sales enablement tool by those on the front line.