Magna Carta of B2B Tech PR: creating the best PR campaigns

Magna Carta is one of the most important documents in history. You don’t have to take our word for it; ask any history teacher and we reckon they’d agree.

It established the principle that everyone is subject to the law, even the monarch, and guarantees the rights of individuals, the right to justice and the right to a fair trial. It’s considered to be one of the first steps taken towards establishing parliamentary democracy, and has had a lasting influence worldwide too – just look at the memorial to JFK installed at Runnymede.

This week marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. As one of the copies resides just a short walk away from TopLine HQ at the British Library, and we have a recovering medievalist on staff, we thought why not create our very own magna carta for comms?

We eat, sleep and breathe B2B tech PR – and here are the rules we swear by and the steps we follow when devising the best PR campaigns.


Chapter one: Define your goals and messages

If the barons didn’t have a clear message to present to King John, or a well-defined goal they wanted to achieve at Runnymede, would they have been as successful as they were? Probably not.

That’s why step one of the best PR campaigns is to define the goals you want your work to achieve, and the messages you want to shout to the world. Do you want to raise brand awareness? Then your goal is likely to be getting great coverage in media that’s relevant to your prospects and customers. Want to increase inbound leads? Then you’re looking at a multi-channel strategy to spread the word that your product solves your prospects’ problems, perfectly.

It’s not always an easy task to identify the goals that will work for you, but you can rest easy on one point: it’s unlikely that Pope Innocent III will annul your campaign, resulting in all-out war. Especially as he’s been dead for 799 years.

Chapter two: Identify your target audience

Without a target audience in mind, you won’t know who exactly you’re trying to talk to.

For the barons at Runnymede, this was a pretty easy task – they wanted the guy whose face was on the coins in their pockets. For you, it will involve a little more digging.

Think about the following and you’ll be on the right track:

  • What does my target audience care about?

  • What are they under pressure to achieve?

  • What do they read?

  • Where do they digest information?

  • What format do they prefer to digest that information in?

  • Are they active on social media?

Chapter three: Come up with amazing angles

Absorb the information you’ve got so far, and you’ll start to see patterns in it. There’s one problem that will stick out like a sore thumb – think about how your product solves that problem and you’re on your way to a great angle.

But don’t stop there. Does your business have an interesting back story? Did you raise millions of pounds in funding by doing something everyone else thought would fail? Do you do parkour in your spare time, just for the hell of it? Do you have an office dog? These are all the basis of angles!

Think like a journalist, then think like the end user – you’ll discover aspects of your business that people genuinely want to know more about. This will result in some killer angles that (with a little luck) people will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of in 2815. Never say we’re not optimistic at TopLine.

Chapter four: Tailor your approach

Done properly, your angles will be attractive to your selection of target journalists. But that doesn’t mean that you should shoot a mass email to every man and his dog, and then contentedly put your feet up and binge watch Netflix. That’s a sure-fire way to end up on people’s blocked sender lists!

You need to understand the media you’re targeting, and tailor your approach to each and every person you approach. Look for the best contact at the publication, and find out if he or she is on Twitter or LinkedIn; look at the publication in some detail to see where your story could fit, and have a clear idea of who its readers are, and more importantly, why they would find your pitch interesting. In short: research, research, and research some more.

But don’t get lost in the detail – keep an eye on what’s trending, what’s in the news and what’s relevant to your target audience in the here and now. If you can offer a story that’s of-the-moment, your chances of having it picked up are much, much higher.

Finally, don’t be afraid to get a little creative to get attention! If you find one of your target journalists is complaining on Twitter about having dropped her iPhone yet again, send her a new phone cover. It won’t cost much, and she’s bound to remember you every time she looks at it (which will be approximately once every 20 seconds, you lucky thing!).

All that’s left is to pick up your phone and get talking to journalists. Emails are easy to ignore, but phone calls give you the chance to build rapport and talk passionately about your ideas.

Chapter five: Remember it is part of the bigger picture

I bet the barons would find all the hoo-hah over their work quite funny, 800 years on. It’s a bit mean to accuse them of failing to see the bigger picture, but for our purposes here it’s too good an example to let slide.

Even if your campaign isn’t still being talked about 800 years in the future, you should have a solid idea of how your PR work slots into your wider business strategy. If your prospects can’t find you online, for example, how will they be able to get more information about your service?

Integrate your PR into your marketing and sales strategies with SEO, social media, content, video, PPC, and whatever else will help you reach your target audience. You don’t want all that good PR work to go to waste!

Chapter six: Measure, optimise, refine

Sometimes we all need a Pope Innocent III to stop our campaign and get us to think about it again. These days it doesn’t need to be so brutal, but it is a necessary part of getting your brand’s message out into the world and making a difference to your business’s future.

Like Magna Carta, and even the law itself if you’ll let us get philosophical for a moment, not all rules are written in stone. As people change, the rules change with them.

And so it is for B2B tech PR: your business objectives will switch, or one of your angles won’t catch on in the way you’d have liked. That’s totally normal. The important thing is to measure your campaign’s results, optimise and refine your processes, and put your new ideas into action.

Just whatever you do, don’t bury your head in the sand like King John. You could end up losing it like Charles.

Want to find out more about some of the best PR campaigns (if we may say so ourselves)? Check out our case studies.

Images: 'Magna Carta', public domain from the British Library's collections, 2013. JFK Memorial, Runnymede © diamondgeezer via Flickr under Creative Commons. Image of Pope Innocent III is in the public domain.