So, you’re looking into PR to boost your brand, but your CEO just doesn’t get it. She’s looking at the bottom line, and sees no upside in plunging resources into an agency that doesn’t understand her team’s tech for press coverage probably won’t drive sales – or so she thinks….
However, as an innovative, forward-thinking marketing professional, you know better. But, before you march back into the C-suite to plead your case, why not figure out how exactly to convince your CEO that B2B tech PR takes brands to new heights.
Ads don’t work
A lot of people conflate PR with advertising. But when it comes to advertising or paid media, consumers are well-aware that someone is trying to sell them something. More importantly, as a result, they are far less likely to trust it to be the unvarnished truth.
In fact, research has shown that trust in advertising is in long-term decline. A study from Credos has shown public favourability towards advertising hit a record low of 25% in 2018, almost halving from 48% in 1992. Therefore, if your CEO thinks spending more money on ads alone will create the leads they need, he, or she is sorely mistaken.
This extends to the digital space. For a while, digital advertising promised the world, but even the leaders in this space cannot defy gravity forever. In April 2022, Google’s parent Alphabet posted slower sales growth as global economic turmoil disrupted digital advertising spending.
Earned media, which your PR agency, if it’s worth its salt, is content others create about you – be it journalists, influencers, or analysts. While this can be good, bad, or anywhere in between, a knowledgeable and proactive PR team will drive the narrative so that this earned media reflects your company in a positive light.
So, by choosing an agency with the right contacts in the media and the persuasive expertise to influence them, you’ll have journalists placing your company’s name in the publications of your dreams, in front of readers, listeners, browsers, and viewers that matter, for a fraction of the price of an ad campaign.
Persuasion: social proof & authority
But why is earned media better – and how does it influence the perception of your brand? To explain that, it’s worth taking a deeper look at the science of persuasion. Dr. Robert Cialdini, the world’s leading researcher on persuasion, and author of Influence (a must-read for any marketing professional) has identified seven key basic principles of persuasion from decades of research into the subject: reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking, social proof, and unity. For today’s purpose, we will focus on authority and social proof, and how these are delivered by PR.
This is the idea that people follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts.
Physiotherapists, for example, are able to persuade more of their patients to comply with recommended exercise programs if they display their medical diplomas on the walls of their consulting rooms. Studies also show that people are more likely to give change for a parking meter to a complete stranger if that requester wears a uniform rather than casual clothes.
Science tells us it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt. Of course, this can present problems – you can hardly go around telling potential customers how brilliant you are, but you can enlist a team of professionals to hone messages that persuade professional writers and influencers to do it for you.
With the right PR agency, the people doing it for you will be industry-leading, expert journalists writing in some of the most trusted publications in the world. In a word – authorities. Tech is a specialist topic, and readers view a very select group of media. By choosing a partner that is embedded with these outlets, and deals with the movers and shakers behind them every day, you’ll be receiving a direct channel to potential buyers in the most authoritative way possible.
If the benefits of your product are being extolled by a journalist in the Financial Times, BBC, or Bloomberg, readers are primed to trust that information far more than if you tell them via ads or salespeople. And while your CEO may question how the hell a PR agency can get his or her super-techy product into the BBC, you can just show him our case studies as proof 😉
Digital social proof
Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behaviour in a given situation. Especially when they are uncertain, people look to the actions and behaviours of others to determine their own. For instance, when people shop, they look for reviews, recommendations and ways that others have used a product before making their decision.
As your PR teams secure quality thought leadership coverage from your company, advising businesses on how to solve the issues that face them, readers facing these issues (potential buyers) will start to see your company as the natural solution. However, your competitors aren’t stupid, they’re trying to do the same thing. With the right PR team, you can stay one step ahead of the curve, dominating the conversation (something we call Share of Voice).
Social proof can also help you take advantage of something called ‘The Halo Effect’. If you have big-name customers, for example, your PR agency can get word of your company’s association with them out to the media. When readers see your brand name in close proximity to the Fortune 500 level organisations, they start to associate your brand as having the same level of prestige as these names.
A ‘Positive’ spin on PR
While this was a whistlestop tour, I hope this dive into human psychology has given you some ammunition in your battle to convince the CEO of the benefits of PR.
Simply put, PR can offer something no other business function can – we connect you with the audience you want to reach, in a way that appeals to them. For more information, connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.