As PR professionals, we love to run campaigns and market products that change people’s lives and touch the audience. Notwithstanding the challenges involved, some claim that catering to people’s emotions is far more easier than talking to CEOs and CFO’s budgets.
Agreed! Tailoring key messaging around productivity, profitability, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, true ROI, etc. would not get media traction as much as a story on a skydiver breaking the world record for jumping with the smallest parachute.
…However, for B2B customers, the joy one can expect is by overcoming these challenges, being convinced before all about the product/solution’s value add, identifying and/or creating the need in the market.
One key rule, knowing what drives your target audience to actually purchase the product or deploy the solution is the single most important factor to success.
B2B public relations focuses on constantly developing the right key messaging, maintaining communications, and educating buyers – enterprises in most cases – about their product and how it is a game changer for their operations. One should remember, this is an extremely relationship-driven whereby brand awareness, trust and authority are kings.
The relationship with B2C customers is highly driven by human-to-human dynamics. It is here when friendvertising is excelling as a new marketing strategy on social media. Consumers buy products based on their quality, value vs. price, status, style, prestige, security and also what their friends are saying about it – on social media, of course. PR professionals know that they should target customers’ emotions i.e. make them happy, sad, angry, secure, beautiful, etc.
Nonetheless, as fun and easy as it may sound, the public is highly educated and influencing emotions is not the only factor here. Novelty in influence emotions and persuading customers have also changed the way PR professionals are going about their clients to sustain a competitive edge in a highly competitive market.
Key differences to remember:
- Drivers matter
- B2B customers look for expertise and innovation
- Detailed and lengthy content only work for B2B – although CEOs don’t have the time, B2C customers don’t have the patience!
- ROI from PR is faster to detect for B2C clients as the buying cycle for B2B is much lengthier and time consuming
- B2B products follow megatrends and their value last longer whereas the B2C cycle is shorter
When you keep in mind your target audience and media, you can never go wrong with that approach.
I’m sure all PR professionals have come across the following question at least once when introducing themselves to people outside their industry: “So what exactly do you do?” Understandably, unlike other straight-forward jobs, such as doctors, mechanics, accountants, pilots, teachers, sportsmen and the like, Public Relations has an aura of mystery around it that leaves most people guessing as to what exactly is it that they earn a living and build a career on?
Public Relations is often confused with Publicity, Advertising, Marketing and, in these parts of the world, even HR and admin (anyone else got confused between PRs and PROs?). While it is true that PR and Marketing are closely related, there are distinct differences. For one, PR is not necessarily concerned about how the company’s volume of sales will increase after a particular campaign, but more about how many people will have heard of the brand and how its reputation is perceived. The success of a PR campaign will be measured in share of voice, coverage achieved, target publications hits and, of course, the audience.
PR is also more cost effective than an advertising campaign. Think about how much money a brand would have to pay for a full page ad in a leading daily or a monthly publication, or how much 30 seconds of a TV commercial would cost to produce and air. Now think of getting all that exposure at virtually no additional cost. PR can make that happen, with something as simple as a piece of news. If a press release shared by a brand has enough newsworthiness and interest for a wider public, the media will cover the story and possibly generate as much coverage as a paid ad. Chances are the brand will be even better perceived by the public since people realize it is not a paid ad shoved in their face in-between an article they were reading or a movie they were watching in prime-time.
The work of PR professionals is always in the shadows, as they strive to keep the brand and organizations they represent in the lime-light. However, you can be sure to find them everywhere, since they are the ones behind anything from an exclusive fashion event to a celebrity interview, the 7 o’clock news or a trending tweet. They work around the clock in crisis situations and around the deadlines on any given day. They often write the stories that get published by journalists under their own names, and answer interviews that get attributed to corporate spokespersons. They will never take the glory, yet most probably will take the heat if anything goes wrong.
No wonder it is often difficult for some people to understand what PR involves, since our work is subtle, but effective. And that’s how it should be – otherwise, the focus would no longer be on the brands we represent, but on the strings behind the scenes. We need to make sure our clients shine and there’s no greater satisfaction than hearing strangers talk about those brands in good terms.
So what did I answer when my 80 years old grandma asked me what I do for a living? I have to confess it was a tough question, and one that I could have talked to her about for hours and hours. Instead, I took her newspaper, turned the page to an article on nutritionist and told her that someone like me, working in PR, made it possible for that nutritionist to voice his opinion there, by representing him and coordinating with the journalist. I think she got the idea.
February 20th 2011 I walked into Active PR as a Junior Account Executive. I was new to Dubai, I was new to public relations and I was a little worried that I didn’t know what I was doing. 41 months later I am walking out of Active (Digital. Marketing. Communications) as an Account Manager. I am no longer new to Dubai, I know a lot more about public relations and I am more confident in my abilities.
Active has given me so much, it has taught me the values of being a true professional, someone who takes pride in what they do, has faith in what they are saying and a person who knows what the real meaning of teamwork is. It has taught me how to be a master multitasker with an almost insane desire for perfection. It has taught me how to enhance my organizational skills and implement successful PR tactics. It has taught me how to develop my strategic thinking and more importantly the secret to delegating (those of you that know me personally know how hard that must have been for me).
The decision to say goodbye to Active has not been an easy one. I love the people I work with and the atmosphere at the office. I am not ashamed to say that for the past 3+ years I have been one of those lucky people that looks forward to work on Sunday and would rather come into the office when they are sick than staying at home.
In 2011, when I was swimming in the deep end and not 100% sure of what I was doing, I very quickly realized that I was surrounded by a family, everyone on the team was there to help, guide and support me. I have to give thanks to the Active team for always being there for me, not just professionally but personally and a massive thank you to Sawsan and Louay for always having my back and encouraging me to grow. Active is my home away from home and in my heart of hearts I know it always will be.
Living in a city where foreigners make up more than 90% of the population, the local culture and traditions can be easily concealed by the expat lifestyle.
However, if you stick around in those hot, hot summer days, you will find that there is a time of the year where local customs and celebrations prevail and the year-round holiday feel of the city simmers down.
According to Wikipedia, Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ‘ramiḍa’ or ‘ar-ramaḍ’, which means scorching heat or dryness. Muslims all over world observe this as month of fasting and a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship.
Going into my second Ramadan living in Dubai, I can attest that the city changes like night and day during this period of time. Everything becomes quiet, the glamorous hotels turn off their music, the restaurants cover their windows and people have reduced working hours. To those who have never been to Dubai, imagine New York, the city that never sleeps, suddenly went to sleep for one month!
Personally, although I am not Muslim, I think people from all backgrounds can take the opportunity of Ramadan for any type of self-healing, no matter what that entails. I see the peaceful nature of this period of time as regenerating.
Now, in terms of how this affects us in the PR world:
As with anything, there are positive and negative effects.
The negative side is that beside the reduced working hours, there are also many people taking their holidays during this time because of the unbearable temperatures (can go up to high forties!). In the PR world, this means many journalists are unattainable.
The positive side is that with the journalists who do stay, we have the chance to enhance the bond we have with them by inviting them to Iftars.
According to Wikipedia, Iftar refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast at the time of sunset, during the Islamic month of Ramadan.
In Dubai, hundreds of Iftars are organized during Ramadan by hotels and restaurants. The food is served in buffet style and most places have an all-inclusive price per person. Iftars create the perfect opportunity to re-connect with the media on a personal level, creating long-lasting relationships.
They are also great opportunities for the clients to interact directly with the media. Companies should take advantage of this time in which business usually tends to slow down to enforce those connections.
Mohamed Al Hadary – Al Ittihad, Lisa Stoffel, Sharrah Khilwala, Ali Smadi – Al Bayan, Nadine Mazraani.