If you have a company in the manufacturing or industrial markets, PR may be an element that’s missing from your marketing program. Many companies in these verticals overlook PR because they may feel it won’t be worthwhile for them. They may think, “What in the world do we have to talk to the media about?”
The truth is, a lot! The trick is figuring out the most effective way to leverage PR to make it work for you.
For example, I’ve worked with many companies in these markets who have interesting stories to tell. What they needed help with was unearthing these stories, then figuring out the best channels to use to get them out.
“You need to not only create great content, you need to make sure people see it,” says Jay Scheer of Thomasnet.com. “Too many manufacturing companies seem content waiting and waiting for those prospects to magically find their websites, pick up the phone, and sign on the dotted line.”
Traditionally, manufacturing companies have turned somewhat of a blind eye to marketing and PR. But, “As vendor loyalty erodes in the B2B market, manufacturers find ‘they’re almost having to resell their clients,’” said a recent article in Crain’s Chicago Business.
What PR approaches work for manufacturing businesses?
For manufacturers who want to take advantage of public relations, here are seven ways to get started:
1) Press releases: When you have a new product or other newsworthy announcement to make, consider issuing a press release. A press release is a multipurpose tool that can be used in a variety of ways.
It can be posted to your web site and shared on social media. It can be pitched to reporters at industry publications or local media. For bigger news, it can be issued using a wire service. And it can be repurposed for your internal or external newsletter and shared with customers and prospects.
2) Contributed articles: You have expert opinions to share with others in your industry—or the industries you sell to. So why not write contributed articles for trade magazines?
Every industry has publications you could reach out to. These publications are looking for content. They have small staffs, but lots of pages (both print and digital) to fill. If you can offer your expertise by writing an article, it’s a win-win.
3) Product sections: These same trade magazines often have new product sections or do product roundups. You can submit your product with an image to be included. Sometimes, as with articles, these make it into both the print and online versions of the publication.
4) Social media: Social media is often overlooked but can be effective, depending on which platforms you choose. If you have interesting images, those can be leveraged across social media.
Of course, if you get a contributed article or product write-up, you can share that on social media. Sharing content from trusted sources is also a great way to engage with your followers.
5) Blogs: If you want to share your expertise, consider starting a blog. Blog posts can be written by anyone in your company (or you can hire an external source to help). They’re an ideal way to engage in some content marketing and can be shared via social media and repurposed in your newsletter, giving you yet another opportunity to stay in touch with customers and prospects.
6) Newsletters: Don’t forget newsletters. These are making a comeback—and you can start one for free. Even a brief monthly newsletter can help you connect with your audiences. You can repurpose other content (see press releases and blog posts above) or share content from sources you trust.
7) Trade shows and conferences: Trade shows and conferences offer speaking opportunities, as well as the chance to meet with reporters who may be in attendance.
A case in point: I was working with a client in the industrial sector. While what they made wasn’t the most exciting product, the way it’s used provided some great opportunities to tell stories and capture compelling visuals.
Every fall, they exhibit at a major industry trade show. So, first, we submitted a speaking proposal for them to secure a spot on the agenda. The CEO was placed on a panel to speak on a topic to which the company could lend its expertise.
Then, because the company was exhibiting, we were able to get a copy of the pre-registered press list. We used that to secure meetings with editors of industry trade magazines. We scheduled about eight 20-minute meetings with reporters and editors at their booth. These are great, because 1) the CEO got to meet face-to-face with the media, which is ideal for building relationships, and 2) the media got a taste of what the company is about and how they might fit into upcoming stories.
Out of that effort, all but one ended up including the company in articles. And, these meetings paved the way for future opportunities, as well. The following year at that same trade show, we landed the cover of one of the publications being distributed at the show—so every attendee received the magazine featuring the client’s story and image on the cover. The relationship we formed with the editor the previous year helped make that possible.
These are a few ideas to get you started on PR initiatives that can make a real difference for your company in an increasingly competitive B2B world.
Have you engaged in public relations activities for your manufacturing business? What was the outcome?