My initial thought of public relations consisted of the typical stereotypes: Samantha Jones, Olivia Pope, Heidi from The Hills… basically the glamour behind consumer communications. I remember hearing about an alumnus getting to FaceTime with Kim Kardashian because he was working on a campaign for the selfie lighting case, Lumee, and I thought, “Well I want to FaceTime Kim K too so I’m going to go into lifestyle and consumer PR.” It wasn’t a question- who wouldn’t want to work with celebrities selling products they love (not to mention all the free product samples). Little did I know that I would soon pull a complete 180 in my public relations interest once I began my senior year.
During the start of my most recent internship, I began to learn about B2B, or business to business, communications, and I couldn’t have been more intrigued. Most of the clients I observed and worked on comprised complex tech businesses or startups with very niche audiences like compliance, healthcare and fintech- things I’ve NEVER had experience with and very little knowledge about. At first I was extremely overwhelmed, but it was beneficial being able to understand how these niche markets work.
If you are ever in my situation and get thrown into the B2B world, here are some things to take into consideration:
1. Research is your friend
With any client or subject in public relations, research should always be your first move before starting any plan. Go into Google and start looking up buzzwords that relate to your client’s vertical. These will change as the newscycle changes, so be sure to change up the buzzwords you are using to stay up to date with trends in whatever vertical you’re researching.
2. Take a look at the other guys
Sometimes if you get stuck in your research, it’s helpful to check out the competition. Get a list of some competitors from your clients and see what they are up to or if they’re doing something similar to your client. This can help further your research/media monitoring and also give you ideas of what news outlets or trade publications these competitors are getting placed.
3. Learn from the pros
One of the fastest ways I learned about the clients I was working on were from transcriptions. If my superiors were trying to cultivate a new pitch or story idea, they would discuss the topic with a subject matter expert, or SME, from the company. Basically, the SME would inform what they were pitching on or give them ideas for new pitches. In my opinion they are the purest source of information since they do exactly what you’re trying to learn about.
4. Be patient
Understanding B2B communications and complicated subject matters can be very taxing. It almost feels like you’re back in school constantly getting quizzed, only this time the stakes are higher because it’s from a high paying client. However, as previously stated, the payoff is indescribable. I feel so comfortable working with these subjects now. It’s exciting when I can relay the messaging and information from a company to the public without a problem, or I can sit in a client call and understand exactly what they’re talking about. Even now, nearly a year later, I’m still constantly absorbing new information and sometimes I still struggle to understand certain things, but I just remember how far I’ve come since I first started. If you want to get involved in B2B communications, it won’t be easy, but it is definitely rewarding.***
***This isn’t to say that business to consumer, or B2C, public relations is any easier; any form of public relations/communications can be difficult. It’s just through my personal experience that I found B2B clients more interesting but simultaneously challenging. My overall message would be don’t knock it till you try it, because you might end up loving it just as much you thought you’d love B2C.
This blog post was written by Lailumah Faisal, Director of Mentorship.