Many years ago, a naive young PR exec winced as a prospect, on the point of signing a contract with his tech agency, announced her reason for doing so. “You guys have all the media contacts”. This was insulting to those tender ears because there was so much more to building a powerful brand presence than a Rolodex. Surely there was a media strategy, compelling messages, attractive press events and much, much more. Once these were in place, writers would come.
As the years went by and the PR Exec’s role morphed into that of New Business, he changed his opinion – but not for good reasons. Selling the ‘magic sauce’ of the agency was much easier if clients believed your contacts were better than others. Clients would pay special attention to the journalists who a PR team ‘knew’. The press audit – in reality a call to selected journalists, most of who had freelanced for the agency – became the crucial proof point. Attracting clients based on ‘contacts’ really was as riggable as an F1 race. I should know – I was head of new business at that agency.
Today, contacts are easily obtained online and for free. From Jigsaw if you are a sales person, from Linkedin if you are a professional networker and of course in your ‘private’ life from Facebook. There are a half dozen competing databases of media and bloggers making life a little easier for professionals and allowing semi-pros to dabble (and sometimes achieving the exact opposite to the positive exposure they had hoped for).
But contacts are not what B2B brand building is about, they are only part of the puzzle. What are required are relationships. Relationships are not transactional, they are not entries in a database, and they are not even introductions from a mutual friend in a social media context. They are based on momentum.
At enlightened, post Social Media consultancies, like Positive Marketing we never sell on contacts – even though you could phone hundreds of journalists to ask about our work. What we have is the ability to help your brand connect with and establish relationships with buyers and their influencers. In a world where much of the buying decision is made online, this requires that your outreach strategy has internet-speed momentum – clear and growing reasons to stay connected. We like to think that while each brand story is different (by definition), the core success strategies are similar. So, it seems, that green-skinned young PR executive was not so very wrong to state that contacts are not enough.
We are also unafraid to share some of this new ‘secret sauce’ with prospects because we really believe it is about execution. Feel free to reach out and we will explain how our outreach differs.