industrial PR

In difficult times whom do you trust? – and that is the point – when things get difficult we look to work with people we trust. Trust means we can all get things done more effectively and more efficiently. This may not be a comfortable option for everyone but it is very well worth learning whom you can trust for your sales and marketing activities especially if you are not used to trusting people in the media and related fields.

Be assured the industrial media is very different from the mainstream – they are well worth working with for Press Relations and advertising. Indeed the UK has probably the most advanced and mature media in the world, with many trustworthy people doing an excellent job. Trust means that we can regrow our industry more quickly.

I was interested to see recently that the number of notified redundancies is well down – and I have also seen that recruitment is well up. What a turnaround – so what can SMEs do to support this recovery in our manufacturing industries? Maybe it is time to look at marketing again? Contact us to discuss your marketing for recovery.

After some thirty years in the business I am aware that PR for industrial companies is a topic that engenders very mixed reactions. It is probably the most misunderstood and, dare I say, mistrusted area of marketing – and yet there are companies out there with very long term and mutually successful PR relationships, covering continuous work over decades. These close promotional relationships have contributed to the survival and regrowth of client companies many times in the past and fully expect to do so in this pandemic driven recession.

PR imageNow is a time when all companies are looking for opportunities and to try something different – something they have not tried before – but of course that comes with due caution, perhaps even scepticism. Sadly, those two letters “PR” are linked in the minds of many with the sort of activities we see in the tabloid press – what is referred to as “B2C” (business to consumer) and may well be supported by past negative experiences.

Industrial marketing is different from retail, white goods, etc which is why we differentiate it as “B2B” (business to business) and we understand that it requires a completely different mindset, experience base and skill set. Industrial PR is not magic, it is a capability or skill like any other supply that depends on ability and experience.  B2B marketing

Classic concerns in the past have been voiced as “I know I need to do something but I don’t know what” and then “we tried it ten years ago but the guy didn’t do anything” or again “we did an advert a few years ago but it didn’t work”  – ignoring for the moment the huge difference between an advert and a PR campaign, interestingly these statements have led to relationships of 10 years – even 25 years. The problem seems to focus around the issue of trust, understanding of what is being done and concerns over the level of financial commitment involved – these are significant matters – but as with any new project can easily be clarified and quantified.

Our own experience has been that trust has to be worked on and earned on both sides – this is true for any supplier – be they accountants, carriers or cleaners. It is also true that costs need to be evaluated and likely outcomes envisaged – like accountants, carriers and cleaners you will not initially know what you will really get whatever their proposal says. The proof is truly in the eating of the pudding – poor practices exist in all industries but who would consider not using such suppliers on the basis of either not having any experience of them or one bad experience ten years ago?

To draw an analogy with our personal lives – I don’t suppose that many people stop dating or going on holidays just because one or two relationships don’t work out or last year’s holiday wasn’t as expected.

So, what is the upside of industrial PR and why do I suggest that companies should consider it now?working smarter

Firstly, experience over many boom-bust cycles has shown that the best time for promotional investment is when we are in a recession – to support survival, then to speed up the recovery. Of course, a recession is probably just the time when resources are already stretched, so what is required is a relatively low cost but effective approach – a drip-drip strategy which is sustainable throughout an economic cycle.

We can see that the flow of information tends to go from supplier to customer, so the customer may evaluate what they can expect from a prospective supplier or their products – but without a convenient way to tap into this information stream then customers are restricted in their research and their choices. Who of us does not recognise the value of a “good” supplier and the difficulty of finding or replacing one. Industrial trade and technical media, magazines, websites and directories provide this information flow and the opportunity for suppliers in the market to feed into it for general consumption.

For the past decade or more these traditional media have also offered the most important route to the internet both independently and via search engines such as Google, thus greatly enhancing the online presence of companies far beyond the reach of just their own website alone.

Good industrial PR facilitates this communication process by providing valuable information from the suppliers of products and services to reach the potential customers who want to read it – via established and respected media vehicles whatever their format. In recent years we have seen the incorporation of social media, blogging, content marketing and SEO under the umbrella of the PR mix – and again we must differentiate between B2C and B2B use of these approaches. There is a similar and crucial difference even though they use some of the same media, in B2B social media is much less important, but more direct and growing in importance with demographic change while effective blogging is simply self-publicity as an extension of a good website. Content marketing simply refers to the production and use of “content” while SEO is a way of creating and implementing content to encourage search engines to take notice of it. Always the aim is to ensure that a client is preferentially presented when a potential specification or purchase is being considered.

marketing strategiesGood execution involves a process which offers manufacturers of components, assemblies and equipment a lifeline in times of survival and an opportunity in times of growth, by ensuring that client company products and services are continuously presented to potential customers and to existing ones. This involves the presentation of news and new perspectives as in product information, applications, technical updates, ideas and services.

Industrial PR therefore rewards client companies by putting them in front of engineers and buyers just at the point when they are forming their decision. It is an ever-present sales tool getting on with the job and responsive to the industrial environment. A PR profile once established needs only a regular monthly trickle feed to keep on working and building connections with customers.

Taken over the long term of economic cycles a PR profile represents capital to rely on for support in difficult times – in times of growth it represents investment paying off by enabling faster recovery, faster growth and slower downturns into the next recession. It lengthens the positive times and shortens the negative ones.

Finally, on the question of cost – it is simply a matter of appropriate choice. I guess we all have a car but few of us choose a sports car when we need a people carrier, or the most expensive when a budget or mid-range will do the job perfectly well. In our business lives we make the same choices about the accountants, carriers and cleaners we need. It should be the same with choosing an industrial PR service where it is especially important to have confidence that the people who will actually deal with your work are knowledgeable about industrial businesses and are sufficiently experienced to be appropriately proactive on your behalf.

Have you ever laid down and let people walk all over you? Course not. You’re a planner, a prepper, and when you face challenges you’re a scrambler, a person who keeps going and somehow finds that by striving to meet challenges head-on there’s always a new opportunity presenting itself.

That’s the secret of successful Press Relations for industrial SMEs operating in the industrial marketplace. To keep going. To battle, and put yourself out there so that more people notice you.

Trouble is, you know how to research, develop and produce the products that engineers and technicians want to use – you’ve been serving the industrial marketplace for years – but to you, pushing out news or press releases is a tiresome task, a hit or miss activity that doesn’t bring the rewards it should, given the time and effort you put into them.

Notice we say Press Relations and not Public Relations. The distinction is crucial to you in the industrial marketplace.

Public Relations is more likely associated with the promotion and self-promotion of celebrities, politicians or B2Cs who want to generate hits for their website. The practice is, frankly, becoming a bore to many people as they realise their emotions are being manipulated and that they’ve been baited for a highly prized click.

Press Relations, on the other hand, is the vital interaction between you, your products and services, and the trade press and trade customers. This is a much more meaningful relationship and one you know is worth developing.

The benefits and rewards of doing it properly are immense, but the process of achieving those results can be challenging.

You might have dabbled in Press Relations or delegated it to someone in your organisation who you think has the time and talent to do it.

But could you be doing more? If you’re answering ‘yes, but I don’t have the time, the staff or the money to do it’ then we have a ‘Guide to Press Relations for Industrial SMEs’ that you should see.

In it, we outline how you can achieve maximum results for a minimum investment.

So to answer the question ‘How can we do industrial PR – and how can we do it cheaply?’ see this link and read Ian Deavin’s guide.

• The Industrial Marketing Agency has been providing Press Relations for Industrial SMEs for more than two decades. Some of our clients go back over 20 years with us so you’ve probably sussed that we’re pretty good at what we do and provide value to those clients.
Interestingly, those clients don’t question the level of investment required, instead choosing to focus on the benefits.
Speak to Ian, Lesley or Sue on 01462 850040 or call Ian on 07860 218334 or Lesley on 07799 642863 to arrange a 40-minute meeting with you.

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