importance of pr during recession - exec

Give PR a Seat at the Executive Table, Now and Always

It’s been a long, hot summer—and an uncertain one for marketers who are grappling with the impact of an inflationary economy and fears of a possible recession.

Companies are scrutinizing marketing budgets more closely, and CMOs are increasingly being asked to justify their spend. Faced with conflicting data, disappointing earnings report and negative economic news, marketers may have tough decisions figuring out how to allocate their budgets.

That’s when PR becomes even more important than usual, because it’s one of the most cost-effective, credible ways to reach your audience and support your marketing funnel. As one PR agency owner wrote in Forbes:

“Through any time of crisis, there is one critical part of any business strategy that should never be forgotten: public relations.

“Why public relations? Because when so many others aren’t surviving the storm, it lets the public know that you are still standing, communicating and being active, and that you will still be there when things get better. PR is one of the most budget-conscious, effective and resourceful ways to keep your name out there during a recession. The third-party endorsement that PR creates is a voice that carries through and resonates with audiences long after the depression has passed.”

Keep in mind that this was written during the height of COVID-19. Anything we face in the coming month­­s—and economists are deeply divided about the prospects and severity of a recession—will pale in comparison to what we all survived in 2020.

PR helps fill your sale funnel, regardless of the economy

Companies will soon begin their 2023 marketing planning, and PR should continue to be top of mind for a full-funnel sales and marketing program.

“PR has always been thought of as a ‘top of funnel’ contributor,” according to Cision, “but this association does not fully encapsulate the impact PR has throughout the buyer’s journey in today’s digitally-driven landscape.”

That’s because earned media can be used in so many ways in the sales funnel. Content from earned media can be amplified through social media, shared in nurturing campaigns, and used throughout the sales cycle. PR can also help gain the attention of retail industry analysts and other important influencers in the retail ecosystem.

Ketner Group’s focus on retail technology has helped our clients realize the potential of each of these elements of a well-rounded PR program. Time and again, we’ve seen the power of PR to help our clients gain recognition as thought leaders, increase engagement with prospects and help drive leads.

That became critically important during COVID, when much of retail was particularly hard hit. Our team moved quickly and worked closely with our clients to devise new strategies to reach retailers. We saw an increased emphasis on content and a renewed appreciation for earned media and the credibility it carries.

Our best advice for retail technology marketers: Always give PR a seat at the table

Our retail technology clients realize that PR should always be considered a key part of the marketing mix, no matter the situation. New technology solutions have fueled much of the retail resurgence since 2020, and our clients reaped big rewards by continuing to invest in PR and marketing.

What should be your strategy for PR and marketing in the coming months? Simply this: Continue to give PR a seat at the executive table. PR is at its best when used as part of an overall company strategy, not just an afterthought.

Despite concerns about a potential recession, the outlook for retail remains healthy. After all, consumer spending is steady, inflation is trending down and consumer sentiment is rising.

This is all good news for technology companies. Retailers will continue to seek new solutions to improve profitability, increase consumer engagement, implement new fulfillment models and better manage their supply chains; and that’s just the beginning. A retail analyst friend of mine expects retail technology spending overall to increase next year.

If you’re a retail technology company, you can’t afford to miss out. Ketner Group has specialized in retail technology PR for more than 20 years, and we know retail like no other PR agency.

Looking for a PR partner that knows your business? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you reach retailers and support your marketing goals.

retail tech company nrf 2022

NRF Wasn’t the Same This Year, But the Show Goes On for Retail Tech Companies

Our CEO and founder Jeff Ketner started going to NRF about twenty years ago. It’s always been the event for building relationships in the retail tech industry. But this year, like last year, was different. His latest video discusses the shift in the landscape and how tech companies can respond. Prefer to read than watch a video? We’ve included a transcript of his discussion below.


The show goes on for retail tech companies

Hi, I’m Jeff Ketner, founder and CEO of Ketner Group. NRF may have gone haywire, but every marketer knows that the show must go on. And that’s what we’re talking about today.

As a retail technology PR agency, we’ve attended more than 20 NRF Big Shows. Before COVID, there was always a buzz of excitement. Our clients were there, we managed countless press and analyst briefings, and it was an annual celebration of all things retail.

This year was different. With Omicron raging, NRF attendance was off by as much as 2/3. Most of our clients stayed home. We did, too. It felt strange. On the other hand,  retail is back. It’s healthy, and that’s good news.

Retail sales in November and December grew more than 14% compared to 2020–far exceeding the most optimistic expectations. Retailers overcame huge challenges last year dealing with inflation, supply chain disruptions and the continuing impact of COVID.

Much of the success retailers have found can be attributed to their technology investments. Which begs the question, without NRF, how can retailers find their next big tech initiatives?

For technology vendors, strategic marketing and communications is more important than ever. One important way to get the word out is through media and analyst relations.

Give media and analysts news they can use

In the past, retail tech companies looked to NRF as a opportunity to make an impact through media relations. Ketner Group has managed hundreds of 1:1 meetings over the years.

Those in-person press meetings at NRF didn’t happen. However, the media still needs to hear about your new products, customer wins and trends you’re seeing in the industry. And there’s no better time than now. Retailers are finalizing their IT priorities for the year, and they’re looking to retail and business media as key resources to help guide decisions.

retail-awareness

A retail technology-focused PR agency like Ketner Group can help you break through the noise and get your story out to the media that matter most. With a great story and the right agency support, the resulting media coverage can help get the attention of prospective customers.

It’s the same with industry analysts. They rely on PR firms to help them stay current on the changing technology landscape. Analysts are key influencers with retailers; time and effort here can make a difference in bringing tech vendors to the attention of analysts.

If you write it, the leads will come

What about all the sales leads you didn’t get this year?

For many retail tech companies, NRF has always been the #1 source of leads for the year. That’s something that’s hard to replace, so now is the time to double down on new, creative content initiatives to develop and nurture leads.

retail-content-development

Thought-provoking content is important. You own it, and you control the message. It gives you the opportunity to engage readers with your viewpoint on some of the biggest issues they’re facing. Your content can include press releases, bylined articles, case studies, blogs and LinkedIn articles, as well as long-form content such as bylines and white papers.

Content marketing is essential for engaging retailers as they research technology vendors. It can help replace some of the leads you would have received at industry events, and it’s a critical part of your marketing strategy.

The great technology reset

With or without NRF, marketers have lots of opportunities to help their companies make an impact in 2022. According to our friend Greg Buzek of IHL Group, retail is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation technology reset; you can’t afford to miss out.

increase-retail-tech-leads

This represents a huge opportunity for technology vendors—and a specialized retail technology PR firm like Ketner Group can make a difference. We’ve focused on retail technology PR for over 20 years. Our understanding of the industry makes us experts in retail tech marketing, and we’ve developed invaluable relationships with key retail tech influencers – both media and analysts.

2022 will be an exciting year in retail and technology. And with proactive PR and creative content in your marketing playbook, your company can play a big part in it.

Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear from you! Reach out to connect with us.

retail tech pr agency

Why to Hire a Retail Tech PR Agency

When speaking with prospects and new clients in the retail technology industry who have previously worked with a PR agency, we regularly hear that the agency didn’t understand what they did. Often the agency either specialized in B2B technology or in retail, but not both. This is why it’s important to specifically find a retail tech PR agency.

Our friend and advisor Karl Sakas explains this well. He says, “If you needed heart surgery, you wouldn’t hire a general surgeon. If your insurance was good enough, you wouldn’t hire a cardiac surgeon, either. You’d hire a cardiac surgeon who’s done your exact procedure 500 times before. When they have a choice, people tend to hire a specialist.”

With that logic in mind, we recommend that if you’re a retail technology company – whether you provide solutions for the supply chain, eCommerce, payments, or even a vertical specific technologies for grocers or apparel – you work with a retail tech PR agency to drive brand awareness and support your marketings goals.

Here are just a couple of reasons why.

Expertise in retail AND tech

It’s easy enough to find a B2B tech PR agency. A quick Google search retrieves thousands of results.

However, it’s a lot harder to find a PR agency that specializes in BOTH retail and B2B technology. But why should it matter? Simply put, a general B2B tech PR agency is trying to be all things to all people. Meanwhile, a retail tech PR agency knows your industry just as well as you do, if not better.

ketner group retail tech

So, what does that mean? For Ketner Group, that means we live and breathe retail tech. When onboarding a new client, it’s easy for us to understand what the client does and to translate that into terms that retailers and brands understand.

This is especially important if you’re hiring an agency to do content development. If an agency is doing nothing but reading and writing about the industry that you serve, it’s easy to pick up your company’s tone of voice and style to create content that resonates with your target audience – retailers and brands.

Established relationships with retail tech influencers

Beyond having expertise in retail and technology, a retail tech PR agency has established relationships with key influencers in the space. This is particularly important for media and analyst relations.

When working with a specialized agency, it cuts down on onboarding time and the time it takes to gain media coverage. We don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of time researching and building media lists from scratch. We use our proprietary media lists to customize and build a database of targets for each client.

With most of our new clients, Ketner Group Communications sees media mentions within the first month by leveraging our existing connections with media contacts in the space.

retail tech pickup

Same goes for analyst relations. We have established relationships with key industry analysts and are able to quickly set up introductory analyst briefings with the analysts who cover your space. Additionally, we help cut through the red tape (i.e. sales people) that solution providers often encounter when handling analyst relations in house.

Start working with a retail tech PR agency today

So, you’re convinced – it’s time to engage with a retail tech PR agency. Look no further.

Ketner Group Communications has specialized in retail tech PR for over 20 years. Our deep understanding of the industry makes us experts in retail tech content development and brings with it established relationships with key retail tech influencers – both media and analysts.

Ketner Group speaks your language and knows your target audience. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you drive brand awareness and support your marketing goals.

relationships with reporters

Top Four Ways for Building a Long-Term Relationship With a Reporter

Our president Catherine Seeds has worked in public relations for many years and one of her favorite parts of the job is building long-term relationships with reporters. Those looking to build their own long-term relationships should check out her latest audio clip, which shares top tips for media relations. Can’t catch the video or prefer to read? We’ve included a transcription of her recommendations below.


Build long-term relationships with reporters:

If you are in PR, then you know how hard it can be, especially in today’s media landscape, to get in front of key media contacts in a meaningful way. Hi, I’m Catherine Seeds, president of Ketner Group Communications and I’m so glad you are listening in. Today, we are going to talk about building long-term relationships with reporters.

Let’s get to it!

So, I like to think of relationships with reporters as a marriage. What do the best marriages consist of you ask? Well, a lot, lol! Relationships are not always easy and they take work, but when you and your partner get it right – it can result in something extremely special. The same goes with your relationships with journalists!

Let’s talk four easy things you can do to create a lasting rapport with a reporter:

1. Be a good listener (aka research!):

This is one of the first things we all learn as PR practitioners. When we think about listening to journalists, this means really understanding what topics they are most interested in and what is going to get their attention. Listening is all about doing your homework on the journalist, reading their previous articles, knowing how they prefer to be contacted and understanding their passions as writers. You can’t possibly expect to build a relationship with an editor or reporter if you don’t LISTEN to the things that are important to them.

Listening and identifying what will make a journalist think “this PR person gets me” could be, as Humphrey Bogart says in the movie classic Casablanca, “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

be-patient-with-reporter

2. Be patient:

Once you’ve done your homework, listened and established a connection with a journalist – that does not mean you or your client will grace the top fold of the Wall Street Journal right away. Patience, especially in today’s very competitive media landscape, is critical to long-term PR success. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “To lose patience is to lose the battle.” But that does not mean you have to sit back and wait for things to happen.

As our friends at Muckrack recently wrote, as a PR professional, you need to remember that you are planting seeds – not shot-gunning beers. Having a quality relationship with a reporter does not mean only reaching out to them when you need something – it means putting in the work and planning for the long game to achieve optimum results.

Make it a practice each week or month to simply engage with those reporters that are most important to you. Send them a nice note about a recent article they’ve written, give them a shout out on social media or offer to meet them for coffee to catch up. They key here is to keep developing that relationship while also staying top of mind with the reporter the next time they write about a topic that could be a fit for your client.

be-relevant-for-journalist

3. Be relevant:

As PR pros, it is our job to stay on top of breaking news, relevant topics and differentiated points of view. In short, you need to do what you can to make a journalist’s life a little bit easier!

When pitching a journalist, it is important to bring fresh ideas to the table! In Cision’s “2021 Global State of the Media” report, one of the important key takeaways is to be a trendsetter. In the report, Cision reminds us that “journalists are looking for stories that speak to what’s happening in the world right now, so the better you are at delivering stories with timely narratives, the more of an asset you will be. Sage advice indeed!

Once you’ve secured an interview, make sure you or your client continues to bring their A game to the table with valuable information, such as:

  • What does this news mean for your customers and the industry, and why should the journalist’s audience care?
  • What is one key thing that (your customer or industry watchers) should consider or think about as they are digesting this news?
  • How can you or your company provide further analysis and a point of view for this news? Do you have unique data to highlight the story, or can you point to outliers or differentiators in the story?

In short, think like a journalist would, and not just what is important to you or your client.

be-human-to-reporter

4. Be human:

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that journalists are people, too. They have the same worries, fears, joys, anger, wants and needs as we do.

Journalists are pressed for time more than ever before, and they do not need PR people following up repeatedly on a pitch, especially, if it is not something they are interested in. (Remember, be a good listener!) According to the same Cision report I cited earlier, nearly three in 10 journalists say they never want follow up at all, while many want at least two days to look over a pitch first.

No one appreciates getting annoying emails that are not relevant to us, and journalists are no different. Be human, be kind and be thoughtful when it comes to communication with the media – it will be a win-win for everyone if you do!

There are many other ways to develop long-term relationships with journalists, but the most important thing to remember is approaching it like you would any other relationship. Build trust, create thoughtful communication and above all, be helpful.

Keep the conversation going:

For more tips and advice on building relationships with the media, please visit our blog. Are you Interested in doing more with your media relations strategy? We’d love to see how we can help jump-start your activities and support you for the long-haul. Email us at [email protected]

Until next time, work hard – play hard – and be nice to people!

good to great byline articles

From Good to Great: 4 Quick Tips for Writing Superb Byline Articles

Without a doubt, byline articles are one of the best tools for establishing thought leadership in your industry. 

You get the benefit of having an external source, usually a trade publication, validate your expertise by providing you a platform in the first place. And you get roughly 500 words to establish your prowess on a timely topic.

For a technology provider hoping to increase sales and build relationships in the retail sphere, what could be better?

But the commerce tech space is saturated. Your strong competition is likely matching or beating your media cadence. A published byline article is good. A catchy, well-written article is better.

To take your content from good to great, simply follow these quick tips:

1. Craft a catchy title

Consider the homepage of any popular retail publication: they are chock full of articles for readers to peruse. Why would they choose yours? Because they liked your catchy title.

I recommend writing your title after your article is complete. Ideally, your title should describe the entire article. It should also tempt a potential reader, inviting them to click and read more.

byline-article-title

Personally, I find lists make great, clickable content. So too do themes, alliteration or strong words. When writing the title for this article, I choose the list format. I used both alliteration and an interesting adjective: “superb.”

My colleague Catherine often incorporates songs into her articles, making them a theme that is included in both the introduction and the title. For inspiration, check out, “We Were Remote Before Remote Was Cool.”

2. Write skimmable copy

These days, our time is only becoming more limited. Your reader expresses interest in your headline by clicking on it, but you must capture their attention within the article to tempt them to read. 

Many of us are guilty of skimming content to capture the basic idea of an article, without actually spending the time to dig in to the details.

skimmable byline content

Consider this analysis by Slate, which completed an in-depth investigation into behavior on their site: most readers only scroll to about the 50% mark, or the 1,000th pixel.

To keep reader attention:

  • Break up your content into short, readable paragraphs 
  • Incorporate a variety of headers
  • Add bullet points or numbered lists

3. Match words in lists

By far one of my favorite ways to transform content from good to great is to execute a very simple trick. Each time you list an item within a series, describe it using the same figure of speech.

For example, all of your headers may start with a verb and provide a recommendation, such as the headers in this article: 

  1. Craft a catchy title
  2. Write skimmable copy
  3. Match words in lists
  4. Conclude with a strong charge 

Or, you may choose to write a list of items that feature an adjective and noun, such as, “our technology solution features a user-friendly UI, simple onboarding process and auto-generated dashboard.”

Either way, matching words in lists consistently results in more pleasing, easy-to-read content.

4. Conclude with a strong charge

We all know that a good conclusion should sufficiently summarize all of your previous content. But as a solution provider looking for new business opportunities, you also want to encourage your reader to keep wanting more.

byline-article-conclusion

Unlike a blog post, which can incorporate a promotional call-to-action, a good byline conclusion should inspire your reader to consider a brighter future. 

What will their business look like if they enact their tips? What trends will appear in the future they can be better prepared for? Direct them with a clear path forward.

Transform your article from good to great

Placing a byline article with a publication is only the first step to creating enticing thought leadership content that drives your business forward. Once you’re committed to writing, you want to create an article that inspires audiences and sets you apart from your competition.

Thankfully, simple tricks can easily take your writing from good to great, establishing you as a long-term leader in the space and positioning your company for success.

Interested in getting help with your content? We love to work with clients to help them achieve their media relations goals. Get in touch.

grocery technology communications strategy

Retail’s Big Opportunity Is Grocery Tech: How Communications Can Support Market Leadership

Grocery continues to be the healthiest, most rapidly changing segment in retail today. Grocery and essential retailing were the bright spots in retail during COVID-19, and that trend is continuing. 

The most dramatic shift, of course, has been the surge in online shopping. Research from our client Mercatus and Incisiv found that online grocery sales will reach $250B by 2025, a 60% increase over pre-pandemic projections. To support this, grocers are investing in e-commerce, fulfillment, omnichannel capabilities and other technologies at an unprecedented rate.

According to Progressive Grocer’s 2020 Annual Report survey, grocery executives view new technology as a key priority, “Tech as a whole is top of mind for most grocers. When survey respondents were asked about the best investment their companies could make to be successful in the next five years, the top response was technology upgrades/new investments.” 

Many of our Ketner Group clients are at the forefront of these changes, with technologies that cover a broad spectrum of grocery retailing: e-commerce, personalized engagement, mobile advertising, shopper data, forecasting and replenishment, omnichannel POS and more.

The rapid changes in grocery represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity for technology companies, and a targeted, high-impact communications program can help them make the most of it. 

Here are just a few communications strategies that are increasing engagement—and leads—for our clients.

Content that engages your prospects

With the disappearance of events and in-person prospect meetings, content became an even higher priority for technology companies, as we talked about in our recent KG Connects webinar, and this trend is continuing. 

From blogs to case studies, thought leadership articles and long-form content, content (or owned media) allows companies to build influence and position themselves as an expert resource for prospects and customers. Companies can utilize content in marketing campaigns, sales outreach and social media, further amplifying its impact.

Content is a key pillar of the communications strategy for our long-time client GK Software. Our team runs GK’s blog program in the U.S., and grocery technology is a recurring theme, as demonstrated by this blog on dynamic pricing in grocery. Bylined articles, such as this recent feature in Chain Store Age, are another excellent way to use content for thought leadership.

Media relations that drives leads

Media relations can be a game-changer for grocery technology companies. And while every company aspires to be featured in The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider and the like (and we’ve made that happen for many of our clients), executives also pay attention to the retail and grocery trade media.

As Kirsty Goodlett wrote in her recent blog, a single press release helped generate more than a half dozen leads for our client Birdzi. Retailers are always curious to know what technologies other retailers are adopting, so this press release about Birdzi’s engagement with their customer Coborn’s sparked a lot of interest—and demonstrated powerful ROI.

Press releases are just part of a successful media relations program. Our team monitors industry trends and news to keep their finger on the pulse of what journalists need, and we create the right strategies—proactive pitching, rapid-response commentary, interviews, background briefings and more—to ensure our clients are included in the most important industry stories.

Analyst relations that create influence

Given the dizzying pace of technology changes in grocery and essential retail, industry analysts such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC, IHL Group, RSR Research and others rely on communication firms to help them stay current on the changing technology landscape. 

Adrienne Newcomb’s how-to blog on analyst relations analyzed the importance of a disciplined, proactive analyst relations program. Analysts are key influencers with large retailers in particular, so time and effort here can make a difference in bringing tech vendors to the attention of analysts, and ultimately retailers. 

I encourage you to check out our latest KG Connects webinar on analyst relations for unique insights from both the analyst and vendor perspective.

Grocery technology vendors must seize the opportunity 

These are just three strategies that are creating success for our grocery tech clients. There is much more we could talk about: original research, digital media, sponsorships, virtual and physical events (live events are beginning to return as more and more people receive COVID vaccines), and more. We’d be glad to talk to you about the communications strategies that are working right now.

The point is, be sure to communicate. You may have a great story to tell, but if you don’t tell it effectively and powerfully, no one will hear it. Grocery technology is arguably one of the biggest opportunities in retail right now, and the right communications program will help create success. 

birdzi ketner group case study

Birdzi + Ketner Group: How a Press Release Generated Leads

We’ve been lucky to work with our client Birdzi on and off for more than five years. Most recently, in the fall of last year, we kicked off a monthly PR engagement to help them increase brand awareness and build on our previous media relations successes.

So far, one of our most successful campaigns was distributing a press release detailing Birdzi’s engagement with their customer Coborn’s. The release helped generate more than half a dozen leads, and solidified Birdzi as a leader in customer intelligence and strategic marketing personalization.

Birdzi, founded in 2010, offers a customer intelligence platform to grocers and is led by Shekar Raman, CEO and co-founder. Gary Hawkins is a strategic advisor.

gary hawkins ketner group testimonial

“I first met Jeff Ketner more than five years ago and became familiar with Ketner Group Communications and their services at that time. I’ve been in grocery my whole life, so working with Ketner Group, which has such a deep history in retail technology, has been a really positive experience,” said Hawkins.

“It’s always fun to talk shop with Ketner Group and it’s a great pleasure to work together, whether as a client or collaboratively on industry projects–like when I appeared on a KG Connects webinar as a guest speaker.”

We couldn’t agree more! In fact, just this week our CEO Jeff Ketner and president Catherine Seeds loved talking with Gary and Shekar on the latest Retail Perch episode! Their discussion centered around the important role PR plays in a startup’s overall business plan.

Crafting PR that demonstrates grocery excellence

Last December, we kicked off the Coborn’s press release project with Birdzi. Coborn’s began working with Birdzi in 2016 and has since deployed a robust loyalty program based on understanding of customer data and insight-driven personalization. When developing the release, we wanted to detail the long history between the companies and highlight the successful collaboration.

public relations driving leads

Comparing new, digitally engaged shoppers on the Birdzi platform vs. shoppers that are not, Coborn’s saw a 355% increase in customer retention, 16% increase in trips per month and 23.7% increase in spend per month. What a success!

After setting the story’s stage with a big impact, we detailed Coborn’s MORE Rewards program, which provides Coborn’s shoppers with personalized savings and experiences. There aren’t many grocers, particularly regional grocers like Coborn’s, who are executing such a robust program. We knew sharing strong details and examples would appeal to the media.

Once the release was drafted and complete, we put it on the wire and completed personalized pitching to journalists.

Grocery industry pick-up inspires prospects

Our goal of creating a strong story that truly resonated with the media was a success. The Coborn’s news was picked up in six publications: Chain Store Age, Progressive Grocer, RIS News, The Shelby Report, Supermarket News and The Wise Marketer newsletter.

The articles demonstrated Birdzi as a leader in customer loyalty and directly generated interest from other regional grocers. Birdzi received more than a half dozen leads through their website and LinkedIn, with prospective customers interested in implementing some of the same strategies as Coborn’s.

shekar raman ketner group testimonial

“When you imagine an ideal outcome for a press release, your dream is that the news drives interest from prospects, but you don’t often expect as many leads as we saw with Coborn’s!” said Raman

“Not only did the news drive leads, but the coverage sparked conversations with our broader network, including friends, partners and current customers. Coborn’s is a perfect use case for grocery innovation, and we’re thrilled to tell their story with Ketner Group.”

Continuing to tell innovative stories

While the Coborn’s press release was a great success, our work as communication professionals is never done.

Birdzi has a steady queue of customer stories to tell for the coming year, and we already followed up the Coborn’s press release with a story of how Birdzi customer Harps launched a mobile app to drive engagement. That release saw similar results, with seven unique pieces of coverage generated.

Looking to master your communications strategy as well as Birdzi does? Reach out to us today to discuss how we can help you craft a strategic PR program that creates thought leadership, brand recognition and a few leads along the way!

b2b content inspired by netflix

How to Create B2B Content That Puts Netflix to Shame

In our latest KG Connects webinar, we were lucky to have our friend Alicia Esposito join us to discuss how to create great B2B content marketing campaigns.

B2B content has always been a key part of building thought leadership, engagement and even leads. Over the past few years, it has become even more important, but brands have struggled to keep up with the breakneck pace of change.

That’s where Alicia comes to the rescue. As the director of content at G3 Communications, she aims to help businesses take an omnichannel approach to thought leadership and ultimately build passionate, empowered communities.

2020: A landmark year for B2B content

For the past decade, DemandGen Report, a G3 publication, has been tracking content preferences. “Year over year, it remains the same,” Alicia said, “folks say, ‘over the past year, I’ve relied more on content.’”

As companies continue to rely on content, they have also seen a corresponding increase in demand.

Last year was no exception to the rule. While the full report isn’t out yet, Alicia was able to share some initial data from an upcoming DemandGen Report.

“62% of respondents said they relied more on content over the past year than any other year,” said Alicia.

rise in b2b content needs

Factors such as lockdowns and a lack of in-person events have driven the demand for content, which has become a key component of the now-digital sales processes.

Incredibly, according to McKinsey, only 20% of buyers and sellers want to go back to in-person. “If you can have the right kind of content and can guide someone through an experience digitally, you don’t need to get on a plane and go halfway across the country,” she said.

Creating creative marketing that stands out

When it comes to impressing potential buyers, businesses need a wealth of content. According to Alicia, buyers will engage with 3-7 pieces of content before they actively engage with sales.

However, when it comes to the type of content buyers prefer, there was a major shift last year.

“In 2019, it was all video. This year, webinars shot to the top,” Alicia said.

Research is showing some interesting contradictions in how people consume content. There’s a demand for easy-to-consume content, while at the same time there is demand for long-form content like whitepapers.

To meet evolving needs, Alicia suggested iPapers, aka interactive white papers, which are very digestible and interactive.

With iPapers, “you can see how much time users are spending in the experience. What people are clicking on, how long they’re spending on the page. This allows you to see what the tangible engagement is.”

adapt long-form content alicia esposito

She also says it’s important to build a content ecosystem out of long-form content. Consider creating infographics, social media images, checklists and even creating video trailers. (For more on this topic, check out “How to Adapt Long-Form Content Into a Wealth of Resources.”)

“I encourage everyone to look at their content and find those bite-sized pieces to expand upon and connect to that long-form piece.”

Using content to generate leads

“How does content turn to leads?” It’s one of the biggest questions for marketers, alongside, how does PR drive leads?

“When we ask our customers what drives them to engage with content, there are always two answers: the trustworthiness of the source and the credibility of the content,” said Alicia. To build this trustworthiness, “you need good storytelling.”

storytelling drives leads

According to Alicia that means understanding the audience, getting to the heart of their pain points, understanding their goals and framing the story through their eyes.

“Powerful, empathetic storytelling is what drives that lead generation success.”

When it comes to the numbers game, however, Alicia says to stick to quality, not quantity.

“A common thing we hear is that clients create huge projects that generate thousands of leads and none of them are qualified. Sales teams don’t even want to reach out to these leads,” she explained.

Want to keep talking about B2B content?

The webinar is over, but the conversation doesn’t have to be.

If you want to discuss how content can help you, reach out to us!

To get in touch with Alicia, connect with her on LinkedIn.

To learn more about B2B content, watch the March webinar on demand.

We’ll be back in May with another edition of KG Connects; we’ll tackle analyst relations and how it can mean big things for businesses.

media relations helps your startup startups

Six Ways Media Relations Can Help Your Startup

Ketner Group has worked with dozens of B2B technology startups, and we often see familiar patterns in how they approach PR and media relations.

Startups naturally spend their first few years building their technology and team and ensuring the success of early customers. However, as a company wins significant customers, receives additional funding or begins seeking investment, PR ultimately becomes a priority.

Media relations is often the starting point for creating a larger communications program and engaging with a PR agency.

Why is this element of public relations so important? Here are several reasons why.

Media relations helps companies hone their story

Storytelling is at the heart of media relations. After all, media relations involves telling your company story in order to convince an editor to write about your solutions, which in turn can influence prospective buyers.

Stories must be easily understood, believable and persuasive. That’s why we always recommend that startups evaluate their company messaging and value proposition before engaging in media relations, to ensure they’re accurately communicating their story.

PR agencies like Ketner Group can provide the expertise you need to help you get ready to tell your story to the world.

Media relations demonstrates market acceptance

The very nature of startups is disruption—taking a fresh look at solving business problems with new, innovative technology. But how does the technology work, and what benefits does it really deliver?

media relations validates tech

Media relations is a critical way to validate your technology, as it gives you the chance to tell stories about your vision for the industry, the challenges your solutions address, and how customers are using your products. Because these stories are told by outside media, they gain credibility.

It boosts your market profile

Over time, editors and writers will turn to your company as a resource for articles and reports, creating more opportunities for media coverage and boosting your company’s overall presence. A well-honed media relations program can give you a competitive marketing advantage, too.

A key index of media relations performance is share of voice, which represents a company’s share of earned media coverage in a given month. By “owning the conversation” through a larger share of voice than competitors, companies can increase their marketing presence and punch above their weight class.

We use Cision as our preferred PR platform, and its share of voice reporting provides valuable metrics for measuring the effectiveness of media relations.

It supports fundraising

As startups raise funding, media relations can help attract the interest of investors and provide an important source of validation. Articles and press releases about customers are particularly important, as they provide external proof that goes beyond your investor deck.

It influences lead generation and sales

Clients often ask the question, “will media relations help generate leads?” As my colleague Mariana wrote in a recent blog, the purpose of media relations isn’t lead-generation, but it can help influence lead-gen and sales when considered as part of a well-rounded communications program. We’ve seen plenty of examples of this.

media relations supports sales

When one of our clients announced a major implementation of the company’s solution by a well-known top 10 retailer, the CEO quickly began hearing back from other retailers the company had been courting. In this case, one highly visible customer win opened doors for our client.

Companies want to know what technologies the leaders in their industries are adopting, and it can ultimately help influence their purchase decisions.

Media relations supports your exit strategy

A retail analyst friend used to introduce us to tech startups by telling them if they work with Ketner Group, they’ll get acquired. If only it was that easy!

Over the years many of our startup clients have undergone successful acquisitions, and we’re proud to have played a supporting role. Media coverage and share of voice can help attract the attention of would-be acquirers. When one of our retail software clients was acquired, the press release referenced an industry awards program that boosted our client’s reputation and visibility in the market. That program was one of the key elements of our PR program.

Media relations is a key strategy to supporting your startup overall

Media relations plays a vital role in your PR strategy. However, media relations should never exist in a silo, as it is only one facet of public relations.

As you consider establishing a media relations program, be sure to evaluate all your other communications channels, too—website, social media, content, blogs, paid media—in order to make sure you have a well-rounded program that’s firing on all cylinders.

That way, your startup will get the most out of its investment in media relations and every other communication channel.

Need help with media relations?

We’re experts in media relations, so if you’re ready to kick start a media relations program or just want to make sure you’re on the right track, we can help.

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to learn what we can do for you.

analyst relations 101 b2b technology

Analyst Relations 101: How B2B Tech Companies Benefit From Analyst Briefings

When we ask b2b technology companies about their approach to analyst relations, their replies are all over the map.

Some companies have a deep well of opinions alongside an advanced strategy, long history and serious investment. Others haven’t even dipped their toe in the water.

No matter the existing approach, the good news is that developing and deploying a basic analyst relations strategy is not only quite straightforward, it offers serious long-term value.

Analyst briefings scheduled twice per year with a company executive can improve a tech company’s go-to-market strategy, product roadmap and lead generation.

Let’s dive in.

Why you should invest in analyst relations

The first thing to know about analysts is that their M.O. is to be industry experts.

Whether an analyst works for a big firm that touches many industries (such as Gartner or Forrester) or a niche firm devoted to a specific sector (such as RSR or IHL Group in retail), analysts typically get their start by working in their field. Take a look at a retail analyst and you’ll likely see they held an executive position with a retail organization.

analysts are industry experts

Once they transition to a career as an analyst, their job is to understand the industry, players, challenges and solutions, and explain this via reports. To gain this insight, analysts complete briefings with tech providers and end-users alike.

When you should schedule analyst briefings

The perfect time to schedule a briefing is when you need expert advice.

Pivotal moments during a company’s history such as before a company/product launch or rebrand, during executive transition, or after completing an annual strategy are all perfect times to seek outside perspective from an analyst.

Once you’ve established a relationship during a pivotal moment, you’re ready to nurture that relationship through recurring annual or biannual briefings.

Analysts will be able to provide perspective that impacts strategies such as:

  • Company go-to-market plan
  • Content marketing plan
  • Product positioning
  • Product roadmap
  • Sales strategy
  • Investor pitch deck

Who should staff analyst briefings

The best practice is to schedule analyst briefings with one or two company executives who can offer high-level insight into overall strategy. With this in mind, a CEO is a natural fit. If a CEO is not available for analyst briefings, a marketing executive can also often speak to overall strategy such as go-to-market approach, product marketing and solution set.

schedule analyst briefings with execs

If you’re scheduling an analyst briefing around a newsworthy event, you also may consider inviting executives related to the news. For example, if you’re scheduling a discussion about an upcoming product launch, invite your CEO and director of product.

How to schedule an analyst briefing

If your company is not investing in a paid, ongoing relationship or specific analyst project, the most likely way you’ll engage is via one-off briefings you schedule once or twice a year.

Analyst firms offer 30- or 60-minute briefings with non-clients; tech companies can request these briefings via an analyst firm’s website.

Once a briefing is requested, analysts can confirm or deny the briefing. The reason an analyst will schedule a briefing with a non-client is to gain a better understanding of their industry.

analyst briefing research

With this in mind, you’ll want to do your homework. Only request briefings with analysts that are a good match to your solution, and when you submit a request specifically share why the briefing will be valuable to them.

Extra credit! How to build long-term relationships with analysts

At the end of your analyst briefing be ready to discuss next steps. Analysts want to keep learning about their industry, so ask if they are open to continuing the relationship by connecting with you via email or social media.

If they’re open to sharing contact information, use it sparingly and be sure to provide value when you get in touch. Include analysts when getting out a press release on big company news, but don’t add them to your general newsletter blast unless they specifically ask to be included.

Make analyst relations a core part of your strategy

Companies are always at risk of becoming echo chambers, full of employees who have worked together effectively for so long that they struggle to develop unique points of view. Analyst briefings address this challenge directly by offering expert industry advice that deviates from the norm.

Creating a strong analyst relations strategy, even if it is minimal, ensures that your annual company plan and pivotal campaigns skillfully meet the market and prepare you for long-term success.

Next up: we’ll dive into how to make the most of analyst briefings in part two of this blog series. Stay tuned to learn how to create a great analyst briefing presentation.

Get help with your analyst relations strategy

Ready to execute but need help? Ketner Group offers analyst relations as a core part of our communications services. Reach out, we’d love to talk shop.