Public relations is the art of securing trust at scale. And one of the best tactics for B2B brands to achieve this is the customer press release.
A customer press release helps a brand in a number of ways:
- It provides third-party verification that your product claims are valid;
- It articulates your product’s use case in a compelling, relatable format; and
- It borrows your customer’s brand authority to enhance your own.
These benefits are especially valuable at a time when customer validation is becoming increasingly important. In a media environment where journalists are outnumbered by PR people six to one, many reporters and editors today simply won’t look at your pitch if you can’t offer up a customer to interview.
Meanwhile, the use of B2B review sites has exploded over the past three years, with many potential buyers refusing to make a purchase before seeing what your customers have to say. Surveys show that buyers trust customer references far more than virtually any other form of brand marketing.
Easier Said Than Done
So, why don’t more brands make customer press releases a key part of their PR programs? Because it takes two to tango. Many brands have a difficult time finding customers willing to be part of a press release.
Look at it from the customer’s perspective. What’s the benefit to them?
The traditional release makes the brand, rather than the customer, the hero. It goes like this:
- The headline announces, “Customer Chooses Brand to Solve Some Otherwise Unsolvable Problem;”
- The body of the release takes a case study format of problem-solution-result to show how the brand saved the day; and
- The cherry on top is a customer quote praising the brand.
You can see why a customer might be less than excited about appearing in your release. Many companies have a blanket policy not to participate in this kind of release as a result.
Making Your Release a Win-Win
So how does a B2B brand overcome their customer’s lack of enthusiasm? By repositioning the release to put the customer’s goals, not yours, first.
Make them the hero, and let your audience connect the dots back to your product in a more understated way.
The format of the win-win release goes like this:
- The headline announces, “Customer Continues to Lead its Industry By Adding New Innovations;”
- The body of the release focuses on the customer’s goals and how they are achieving them; and
- The cherry on top is a quote from the brand praising the customer, and expressing gratitude to have the opportunity to help fulfill the customer’s vision.
You see the difference? If I’m the PR representative for your customer and you put a press release like that in front of me, I’d be silly not to approve it.
You could even make the argument that such a release, coming from a third party, actually helps the customer more than one they distribute themselves.
You’ve turned the release into a form of third-party validation for the customer as well as for the brand. And that’s a win-win.
Scott Baradell is CEO of the unified PR and marketing agency Idea Grove, one of the top 25 technology PR firms in the United States. Scott is currently writing Trust Signals: The New PR, introducing a new framework for the practice of public relations, to be published in 2021.
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