PR 2.0 B2B Challenges

I spoke to the members of the New Jersey Professional Services Marketing Group (NJPSMG) on Friday, September 18th.  It was a packed room with B2B marketing professionals mostly in the accounting, legal and financial industries.  My presentation focused on PR 2.0 and helping brands and their marketing and PR professionals learn the proper approach to connecting with clients and other important stakeholders in the social media landscape.

A recurring question throughout the presentation was:  How do we get management buy in, for example with lawyers and accounts, and those that think their clients are not participating in the social economy.  I believe the answer to the question is “baby steps.”  You should take small steps and show some wins before making any PR 2.0 major moves.

Here are few ways to get management to change their perceptions:

  • Take the time to listen in web communities for your executives.  Seeing is believing, so show your executives what people are talking about, and how there are dynamic conversations going on without them.
  • Find the best social media case studies in your industry and show management that their clients are out there talking and asking questions.
  • Show management the competitive social media landscape and how competitors are active, taking a position of thought leadership and talking to their potential clients.
  • Discuss with management a social media plan to be added to your overall communications plan or handbook.  If you do not have one, then this is the perfect time to develop guidelines for your employees.  A good social media policy should make management feel more comfortable about PR 2.0 outreach.
  • Begin your social media program slowly…it doesn’t always have to start with a blog. You can begin on your website with an RSS feed from company’s newsroom where people can opt in to receive your news.
  • Video is a great way to exhibit thought leadership, build credibility and to use in a speakers bureau on your website.  You can showcase your executives who are experts on various topics and even make it easier for program coordinators to evaluate them for industry conferences and seminars.
  • Podcasts are also an easy and cost effective means to showcase expertise and they are simple to download for clients and prospects and other stakeholders who want to learn more about your firm, or important industry trends or challenges in the market.
  • If management is hesitant to build an external community on a social network, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you can suggest building an internal community, whether it’s your own company blog or social computing site.  Get the employees of the company to embrace social media and to become PR 2.0 champions.  You can teach them that open communication leads to long term value.  You can also show management that employee participation can result in company wins including the development of cross functional teams, idea sharing, business development and more productivity within your own firm.

After my presentation, I spoke with a couple of marketing professionals from NJPSMG who said that the firms they work with feel their clients are small businesses whose audiences are older and not participating in web communities.  This is a challenging situation.  Although this may be the case today, we discussed that eventually those businesses will want to attract new client prospects and even new talent for their own companies, who may be more connected in the social economy.  The best time to start attracting these individuals and capturing community is now.  Otherwise, when those firms finally do step into the social media landscape their competitors will already be building the relationships with the people that they want to connect with.

Bottom line:  PR 2.0 is now and can impact the long term growth and development of your business.