News: Recent research sheds light on the state of PR in B2B

84% percent of B2B CEOs find speaking to their CMO ‘awkward’, whilst 48% of senior B2B marketers admit they have ‘given up’ trying to educate the board about PR, according to an independent study commissioned by B2B PR consultancy, Champion Communications. 

The study, B2B PR for Growth canvassed the opinions of 100 senior marketing decision-makers and 50 CEOs from UK-based B2B companies, sought to understand the degree of understanding between the two stakeholder groups. 

When asked about PR, and its use within their organisations, the surveyed CEOs agree: 

  • PR is a cost-centre rather than a revenue generator (96%)
  • They don’t understand the value of PR to their organisation (76%)
  • They understand their organisation needs PR, but they don’t know why (45%)
  • Their main PR priority is to raise their personal profile (49%)
  • Discussing PR with their CMO is really awkward (42%)

However, the study finds that the misalignment between the two groups cuts both ways, with senior B2B marketers admitting that:

  • Reporting the ROI of their organisations PR strategy to the board is one of their biggest challenges (61%)
  • Discussing PR with their organisations CEO is really awkward (49%)
  • They’ve given up trying to educate their CEO on the value of PR (48%) 
  • Their CEO doesn’t understand the value of PR (37%) 
  • Their CEO seems more interested in promoting themselves than the business (58%) 

Richard Cook, CEO at Champion Communications said: “These results will make for depressing reading for many of us in the B2B PR world. The onus is on us as PR professionals to ensure we are doing all we can to help business leaders appreciate, understand, and take advantage of the power of earned media and public relations, both as a growth generator and a protector and builder of business value.’

‘Part of the issue is about measurement and being able to demonstrate the connection between PR and growth. Whilst this can be challenging, particularly for B2B businesses running integrated campaigns, measurement and reporting needs to be in line with business objectives. Many CEOs don’t have the time or inclination to understand concepts like share of voice, but when we can report on the impact editorial has on sales enablement, this can seem more consequential.’

‘Very few B2B PR strategies can work optimally without buy-in from the leaders of the business. If the CEO cannot correlate PR to business growth, then it’s easier to understand how it can be mis-interpreted and under-appreciated.”

Dom Monkhouse of Monkhouse and Company, Business Coach focusing on the science of CEO and Leadership Success commented: “Accountability is uncomfortable. This is one of the biggest challenges and it's common for executive teams to be operating in silos. The CFO might not feel it is their job to tell the sales director how to run sales, and the CMO doesn’t want more flack from the sales director. Even the people who are doing a good job don’t want more scrutiny. As CEO you may be stuck in the middle and acting as a bottleneck. In the world of PR this gets more complex as you have a dual role as a spokesperson and business figurehead, where you become dependent on your marketing and PR teams who are putting you forward to engage with their media contacts. The best CEO’s have their own relationships with a small number of the most relevant journalists and also read the media.’

‘Compartmentalising the role of spokesperson within the PR programme and CEO is vital. Separate meetings will help keep things clear, so that when it comes to assessing the performance of PR, this is not confused with evaluation of your performance as a spokesperson. Ask for metrics that matter to you. If you are looking for growth, speak to sales, are they using the coverage to start or nurture conversations? Are you looking for awareness? Then ask for a comparative share of voice study. Lastly, hire the best team you can internally, trust them to hire the best agency partner for your business. Look for an agency that gets you, where you will not get lost amongst bigger accounts, and ensure that it has the resources, databases and technologies that will give your PR programme the edge.”

To see the full findings from Champion’s study, B2B PR for Growth and how Champion Communications can help your business to grow, please download the report here

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