In-house or Outsource Public Relations for B2B Tech Companies?
So your B2B tech company has hit its stride. You’re signing new clients,honing your product offerings, and even attracting some industry attention.The time has come: you’re ready to invest in PR. Phew! That’s a good decisionyou made.Now, though, you’ve got another choice to consider: should you keep it in-house, or go with an outsourced PR agency?That will depend on everything from your team’s strengths, to your budget, toyour goals. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through what in-house PR vs.outsourced PR looks like, and how to decide which is right for you.First, however, let’s look at what PR can bring your brand, and why you needit.
PR helps tech companies stand out and dominate their niche in an extremely
crowded marketAny company can benefit from digital PR efforts, but B2B tech companies, inparticular, need them if they’re going to establish themselves long-term.Take a look at these numbers from TechRepublic, for instance. * In 2019 in the U.S. alone, there were 557,000 tech businesses. * 13,400 tech startups were launched in 2020. * The tech industry employed 12.1 million people in the U.S. in 2019.As you can see, the industry is massive, and continually growing (although therate of failure for tech startups is also high at 63%, according to Embroker).We hate to break it to you, but the chances of standing out from the other556,999 companies in your industry based on the merits of your product aloneare basically zero.With the amount of content, advertising, and just plain noise on the internet,the only way to grab market share and make yourself top-of-mind among youraudience is through PR: specifically, by layering digital PR with traditionalPR efforts.Related content: WTF is the PESO Model? A Look at Our Digital Marketing and PRStrategy
What does in-house B2B tech PR look like?
If your PR is in-house, that simply means that your own employees handle yourPR efforts.Depending on the size of your company, PR efforts may be absorbed into anexisting department, like the marketing department, or you may decide to hirea full-time PR professional or staff an entire PR department.In-house PR departments usually consist of the following individuals, thoughjob titles may vary: * VP of Public Relations—the department head who manages the PR team, signs off on campaign ideas and serves as the connection between the C-suite and the PR department * Lead publicist/media specialist—a senior publicist (also called a media specialist) who may take the lead on campaign ideation, higher-level campaign management, data and results analysis, etc. * Publicist/media specialist—a more junior employee with less experience in PR who helps execute PR campaigns, manage them day-to-day, pulls reports, and does the “grunt work” to support the lead media specialist and head of the departmentThe size of the team will depend on the complexity of your PR efforts and thesize of your budget. Often, a brand will hire the head of the department andrely on their expertise to determine the personnel resources he or she willneed.
What does outsourced B2B tech PR look like?
When you outsource your PR, you’ll be working either with a freelance mediaspecialist or with an agency (depending on how extensive your needs are).If you choose to go with a freelancer, he or she will likely handle functionslike generating ideas for story angles and pitching media. He or she may alsowrite press releases, news briefs, and other short, newsy-type content fordistribution.Some media specialists also offer social media services, so that’s somethingto ask when you’re initially interviewing potential freelancers.Using an agency will give you access to more support and a wider range of PRservices. If you sign on with an agency, you’ll have a team of people on youraccount. That team may include any or all of the following: * An account manager who handles your communications and client relations. * A media specialist who handles PR strategy and pitching * A copywriter or content specialist who assists in writing articles, conducting interviews with your leadership, and otherwise supporting the content creation process * A social media specialist who handles your social media presence * A graphic designer to create visual assets to include with pitches and on social mediaTogether, this team will develop a cohesive PR strategy for your brand basedon your own knowledge and research—any B2B buyer personas you’ve developed,your audience data, goals, etc.—as well as their own research into your brand,the audiences you’d like to reach, and their knowledge of and connections inthe tech media.Now that that’s covered, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each typeof PR.
Pros and cons of in-house PR
In-house PR teams can be a good choice for tech brands that have large budgetsand operate in sectors that require ongoing engagement with outsideentities—for example, regulatory agencies or industry associations.Take a B2B tech company that’s working in something like medtech—say, medicalAI.This is an area in which privacy issues are serious and changing, regulationsare evolving, and public perception is generally somewhat skeptical. A misstepcan lead to not only legal ramifications but also a long-term loss of trustfrom your buyers.In a case like this, it can be a good idea to have an in-house PR team thatknows your brand, product, and sector intimately. That way, they can addresspotential crises or changes in regulation immediately, with little to no ramp-up time.Of course, a team like this doesn’t come cheap, and it’s not always easy tofind the right personnel to fill your needs.To sum it up:
Pros of in-house B2B tech PR teams:
* They’re a part of your team, so they know your brand extremely well * They focus solely on telling your brand’s story * They work 40+ hours a week developing ideas, pitching, and managing and executing campaigns * They have the time and resources to understand the technical aspects of your product, as well as the benefits and services it provides
Cons of in-house B2B tech PR teams:
* Expensive in terms of salaries and benefits * Require oversight from the C-suite, like any other department * Require time and resource investment to hire * Potential for high turnover * Require additional personnel for additional services, like social media * Can be difficult to find full-time PR staff who have a deep knowledge of the tech industry
Pros and cons of outsourced PR
Now let’s consider outsourcing your B2B PR to a freelancer or agency thatspecializes in your industry.Once you’ve found your candidates through word-of-mouth, online searches,social media, or a gig worker platform, conducted your interviews, and signedon with one of them, here’s what the process will likely look like.If it’s a freelancer you’re working with, it will be fairly straightforward:you’ll conduct all your business with that one person, who will bring youmedia opportunities like guest posts, inclusion in a news article, andinterview opportunities on TV, podcasts, online series, and/or radio shows.They’ll also request sound bites and quotes to have on hand for answeringreporter queries.With an agency, of course, the process will be a bit more complex.First, you’ll likely fill out a questionnaire or document asking about yourtech brand, your PR goals, your product or service, and where you’ve beenfeatured before, if anywhere.Then you’ll meet your team on a call or video chat. These “getting to knowyou” calls, as we call them at Zen, are essential in order for your agencyteam to get a good feel for who you are, what your brand does, and who youraudience is.Your team will also be researching your brand, your product, and yourcompetitors during this time.While most agencies are prepared to ramp up quickly, with B2B tech, theresearch period can sometimes take longer than for other industries due to thecomplexity of the product or service.Medtech, fintech, and enterprise tech, for example, require a nuancedunderstanding of technology and the differentiators that make one companystand out from the rest. Whether that’s your API integrations, your commitmentto privacy, investment in cybersecurity, or deep knowledge of the regulatoryenvironment, B2B tech buyers have specific criteria and needs—and your PR teamhas to know how to connect with those needs.This is one reason why, if you choose to outsource, you may want to consider aPR firm that specializes in B2B tech. That way, you know your agency teamalready has the background and understanding of your industry to enable themto hit the ground running.
Pros of outsourced B2B tech PR:
* Choose whether to work with a single person or multi-person team, based on your needs and budget * Access to an agency’s full resources, from content writing to social media to creative to PR specialists * Availability of agencies that specialize in the B2B tech industry, resulting in less ramp-up time * Ability to cancel a contract or switch if the agency or freelancer doesn’t meet expectations * Faster and easier than hiring internally * Usually less expensive than hiring an internal team
Cons of outsourced B2B tech PR:
* The team you work with will be working with multiple clients, so you’re sharing their time and energy * They won’t know your brand as closely as an in-house team will * They may need more guidance initially, although this need will decrease as your relationship continuesAs you can see, deciding whether to hire internally or outsource your B2B techPR is a decision that depends on many factors. Whichever you choose, you’llneed to consider your goals, budget, and timeline, among other things, as wellas how involved you want your PR efforts to be long-term. If you’d like to talk about the benefits of working with a PR agency thatknows the B2B tech industry inside and out, get in touch!VIDEOThe Best B2B Tech PR Firms in San FranciscoSan Francisco is a hotbed for the latest and greatest innovations in B2Btechnology. Word about new companies and startups spreads like wild fire. Why?Because these companies leverage top-tier B2B tech PR firms in San Francisco.Any good business owner will tell you that public relations is an integralpart of a successful business plan. And in a competitive market like SanFrancisco, strong public relations can play a huge role in determining thesuccess of your company.
4 Things to Look for From B2B Tech PR Firms in San Francisco
B2B tech PR is critical for raising your company’s visibility among targetaudiences and consumers. If you partner with a subpar PR firm, you’ll get alackluster program that doesn’t generate results and misses importantopportunities for brand awareness and lead generation.When you need to gain recognition in a crowded marketplace, you can’t affordto get stuck with a PR agency that isn’t effective. So, when you’re on thehunt for B2B tech PR firms in San Francisco, it’s helpful to stick to a shortlist of criteria. The agency you select should: * Media Relationships. If there’s one thing journalists hate, it’s getting spammed with generic pitches that aren’t relevant to their beat. Your PR agency should established connections with media contacts at key publications. When industry journalists need commentary on a topic or trend, they’ll turn to your PR agency for a source – and that source could be you. * Industry Knowledge. New products and trends are constantly emerging in B2B tech. PR agencies that don’t understand the B2B tech sector can’t maximize media opportunities. Although you’ll need to give your PR firm a rundown of your company’s specific products and offerings, your PR team should have a solid working knowledge of the B2B tech industry as well as your target market. * Digital Services. Digital services work synergistically with traditional public relations efforts, so it’s important that your PR agency can provide digital capabilities like SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing, web development and more. * Measurable ROI. The best PR firms in San Francisco can demonstrate measurable ROI. Before selecting an agency, ask about key metrics like number of placements, search rankings, social shares, site visits and content downloads.
Public Relations for Technology Companies
Technology is omnipresent today and it’s incredibly diverse. What do companiesneed to consider when hiring a tech PR agency? Industry experience is a must,no doubt. Proven results including cases studies or, even better, chartsshowing business revenue increases or website traffic increases or similar.And recommendations from industry players are always a distinctive advantage.But tech PR is not always tech PR. There’s a difference between doing, forexample, B2B tech PR for a mechanical engineering company or having to explaina cloud solution to end consumers. Even within a single industry, an agency’sexperience needs to be queried. For example, 3D printing is everywhere. Butthere is a difference between addressing end consumers with a low-costfilament 3D printer and communicating professional 3D metal printing solutionsin the additive manufacturing segment.The PR specialist must have relevant experience in technology. While theydon’t necessarily need to be a technicians, the technology public relationsagency you are about to hire should be able to grasp how your technology worksand the value it brings to the users or enterprises, and assess its impact onthese target groups and the market. The task then becomes the“translation/adaptation” of the technology accordingly for the target group.It’s also extremely important to define and address the right audience andthen use the right channels. This is where the expertise of the Tech PR agencycomes in. In B2B Tech PR, for example, we distinguish between CTOs, CEOs,nerdy IT administrators etc. and possibly non-technical decision makers. Asimportantly, these various target groups speak “different” languages and needappropriate content. Some need tech talk and in-depth feature discussions.Others are interested in the benefits for their everyday life and others aremore interested in ROI, investment opportunities, or a new technology ingeneral.Enterprise technology vendors and businesses in the B2B tech sector themselvesare also prone to the same challenges confronted by other traditionalbusinesses – the rise of new, creative market entrants – which themselves needto cut through the noise in an ever competitive media landscape.