I never thought I’d use some of the same techniques from my days as a reporter covering college hockey in my current role as a PR pro in the B2B tech world. I’ll admit that when I transitioned from covering sports in college to working for B2B clients, I thought my style of writing and communicating would completely change—how could B2B tech be as exciting as a last-minute goal in overtime?
In my time working as a communications professional, I’ve learned that effective storytelling differs less from industry to industry than you might think—even in areas that some might consider a bit dry. Here are the ways B2B PR gets my adrenaline pumping the same way the goal horn did:
Issues response, issues response, issues response. All PR pros have one big thing in common—we all love breaking news. For B2B-focused clients, issues response (i.e., providing commentary on current events and other issues making big news) represents a huge opportunity to get coverage in key business press targets. When relevant news breaks, it’s all systems go. From identifying the opportunity to figuring out where the client can provide insight, to reaching out to the right reporters who could benefit from a conversation with your client—issues response makes my heart flutter like sudden-death overtime.
Tell me why it matters. At the end of the day, telling stories about sports really meant telling stories about people. The same is true in the world of B2B tech. Whether you’re writing about a playoff game or pitching a reporter about a client’s new technology, you need to tell your reader why it matters. And while B2B PR can sometimes feel far removed from the consumer, there’s always an end user in mind. When telling your clients’ stories to journalists, it’s imperative to keep their readers top of mind. If your B2B pitches aren’t landing, you might be forgetting that behind every business are the people making it successful, inside and outside the company. When you make sure your pitches relate not only to bigger industry trends, but to those people, you’ll be golden.
There’s always something new. Something I loved about covering sports was the opportunity to continuously learn. There was always an aspect of the game I could understand better or a new player to learn about. B2B PR challenges my brain in the best way and forces me to come onto a new client team, learn about an industry and truly take ownership of the outcomes. From Artificial Intelligence and Marketing Technology to Enterprise Software and FinTech, the opportunity to become an expert on emerging technology is really exciting (and makes you sound smarter than all your friends).
Doing your homework is key. There was nothing worse or more humbling than interviewing a player or coach who could tell you hadn’t done your research. Same goes for B2B PR. Sure, there’s a time investment up front, but it pays off when you’ve earned the trust of clients and reporters who turn to you for guidance and rely on you for sources. Taking the time to really understand a reporter’s interests and coverage area is key before reaching out, especially in B2B tech where nuances in different industries and technologies are super important. This not only increases your chances of nailing the pitch and garnering great client coverage, but also ensures that you represent yourself, your agency and your client the best way you possibly can – by knowing your stuff.
All that said, the biggest thing sports writing and B2B PR have in common for me is they’re both things I’ve become passionate about. No matter what kind of communicating you’re doing, being excited about the work and the chance to be a part of something that resonates with people is key. Helping companies grow through PR and getting them great exposure through coverage in key outlets truly feels like a win.