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ABM + PR – What you need to know now

Heather Kernahan

ABM (account based marketing) is everywhere – in my social media feeds, conference sessions and more webinars than I could ever attend. Gartner research director Noah Elkin commented last year that client inquiry volume about ABM continues to rise, as most marketers I talk to have ABM at the top of their priority list. In a recent SiriusDecisions survey, 93 percent of respondents said they consider ABM “extremely” or “very” important to their organizational success. And though it’s at the top of everyone’s list, most people I speak with say they still need to figure it out.

It’s more about growth than ever before for marketers and ABM is a new / old strategy to get targeted with the marketing engine.

The first thing you need to know is that PR can be a core part of your ABM strategy. We’ve captured here what you need to know now about ABM + PR as your next quarter planning kicks into gear.

Building Credibility –If you’re working to raise awareness with a target audience and establish a relationship, you better be thinking about credibility. PR is the strategy for building credibility. For an ABM program, PR can help raise credibility with:

  • Industry Leadership. Once you understand the topics that are important to the companies you’re targeting, your PR team can develop byline articles and blog posts that present your industry knowledge and leadership. The byline article can be pitched into industry publications and once they are published, the sales team can use as content in their outreach and follow up with targets.
  • Influencer Relations. In every industry there are influencers that are watched, read and listened to. Your PR team can work to identify those influencers and develop a plan for building relationships. Sometimes you’ll need to have a paid agreement with those influencers to work with your brand and sometimes there is mutual benefit in working together. Either way, the companies you’re targeting will be looking to those influencers to see who they work with, recommend or have an opinion about. This strategy can accelerate the ABM funnel. An example of an industry influencer is Jacob Morgan who has built a business around the future of work topic. He is a writer, speaker, author and works regularly with companies to help them tell their future of work stories.
  • Thought Leadership. PR can also help ABM programs by working with your company executives to get them quoted and written about in business, tech, trade, industry and local media who matter. Knowing the AMB target companies and buyer profiles gives the PR team insight into how to position executives to be talking about topics that matter to the buying audience. Once media coverage is secured, PR can work with the sales team to get it into prospects in boxes or on stage in a key note or panel session at an industry conference.

Oh Yeah, We’ve Done this Before

  • Case Studies. Showing how you’ve worked with other companies who are the same profile as the target in your ABM program is critical to your success and there is no better team than PR to capture and profile customer success. Masters of relationship building, the PR team can take the lead in talking with customers about their stories and then take that story into the right medium. It may be a written case study but really, given all the tech available today, you can do better than that. Think about interactive content hub with video, quotes, images and easy story discovery as the starting point.

Bright Lights, Big Stages

Keynotes, Panels, Fireside Interviews. Most of your ABM program will be executed online, but there is also a role for in-person, high impact encounters with your brand and prospects. The PR team can work to get your company spokespeople on stage at industry events where you know your targets show up to learn about what’s new. If landing a key note isn’t possible (and often isn’t until executives build up a strong profile) then PR can pitch topics that include a panel and include customers on the stage. Once your company is on stage, there is major opportunity to capture video content to edit into short packages, write up the content in a blog or into an industry trend byline to place in a publication. There is no such thing as one and done with PR – at every turn we’re looking to see how else we can get exposure for our story. Oh and one more idea here. Once your speaker is landed on stage, buy VIP tickets for the targets on your ABM list and bring them personally to the event. That’s what we call a +1.

PR has evolved significantly over the past decade and now uses a wide number of marketing tactics to further expand media coverage and influencer relations and build credibility. In future content on ABM + PR we’ll talk about how to use paid tactics to accelerate awareness of PR success and move targets through the pipeline.