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Why we all need to learn to love PR messaging

Posted by Ben Smith on 7th December 2022

If I say ‘messaging’, I’d wager there is a strong possibility that it conjures up images of ever so slightly overlong meetings in windowless rooms…which also probably featured two people arguing about the difference between a vision and a mission.

And if that is what comes to mind, then I feel your pain – I’ve been in those rooms more than once.

Despite this – and maybe I’m just a masochist – but I actually love the process of developing messaging. I find the challenge of mapping the contours of a messaging problem and the discussion to overcome these knotty issues fascinating. And ultimately, I love the alchemy that comes with finding just the right combination of words that perfectly expresses a point of view, a position, or an attitude.

The key to elevating your brand

However, whether you have bad memories of messaging sessions or not, there is no doubting the huge value that good messaging and storytelling can bring to a brand.

One of my favourite recent examples is Liquid Death – a brand that has taken messaging so far to the nth degree that it is, in many ways, the product. They’ve staked out their ground as ‘the heavy metal of water’ and just run with it.

It is an absolutely fantastic example of how having a bold message, delivered in a creative way and with some cool branding, can massively elevate a product. Moreover, taking this approach has marked out ground that no other brand in their segment can own – I don’t see Evian or Fiji Water even attempting anything that looks vaguely like a Liquid Death campaign, do you?

And this great work has helped catapult what is ultimately bottled water and turned it into one of 2022’s most talked-about brands.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, yeah that’s all well and good, but the same rules don’t apply to CRM software or cloud monitoring tools”. Well, I say “no.” The same rules absolutely do apply.

Don’t be boring

At the crux of this issue is the age-old ‘B2B is boring’ debate.

The B2B Institute at LinkedIn has done some great work on this topic – identifying what they refer to as the ‘product delusion’. As they highlight:

“What if Coca-Cola was marketed like a B2B product? Judging by the wealth of B2B ads in my feed, there’s a pretty good chance that if there was an ad for ‘B2B Coke,’ it’d focus on telling me how sweet, brown and fizzy it was … It is worth pondering why you never see a Coke ad that copies this format”.

In other words, too often B2B brands focus on sales and product messaging and forget that they also need PR messaging – messaging that is a jumping-off point for true storytelling, not selling. Or as the B2B team at LinkedIn describe it – there is ‘sales activation’ and there is ‘brand building’.

Sales activation is generally where B2B brands feel comfortable. Unfortunately, it is also anathema to good PR.

Journalists and other influencers simply do not care about your spec sheets and your features. They aren’t paid to promote your product directly – that’s why you have a sales team.

And, as is increasingly recognised, your sales messaging won’t help with PR specifically. The truth is that in many categories there is rarely significant differentiation between competing products – so specs and features aren’t going to make your brand memorable. It’s only your story that can do that.

We’re here to help

So, if your product features aren’t your message, what do you do?

The short version is, get creative! We’ve written previously about just how powerful creativity can be in B2B marketing – and that’s as true about messaging as any other element of the craft.

And when it comes to messaging, the reality is that people want to know what you have to say, not what you do. You need to stand for something in order to stand out.

To do that, you need to ask thought-provoking questions such as: What is the conventional wisdom you disagree with? What is wrong in your sector? What do you see that no one else does? Where do you really fit in the bigger picture?

The answer to these questions will be the basis of a PR messaging platform that will start to turn your ambition into action. And that’s where we come in, of course!

Our proven PR messaging development process focuses on going beyond what you have to sell, and really getting to grips with how you want to be perceived, how you want to talk and, most importantly, what you have to say that no one else does.

We promise we won’t bore you by trying to work out the difference between a vision and a mission. We assume you’ve got a good reason for being in business. We’re just here to help make sure as many people as possible will pay attention to you. And that starts with messaging.

Ben Smith

Ben’s deep knowledge of sectors as diverse as electronics and IT, cleantech and medtech means he has a wide range of experience to draw on for his clients – ensuring that no two campaigns are the same. Ben’s expertise lies in helping his clients to raise their profiles beyond trade media and he has a proven track record in running campaigns that deliver coverage in national, business and consumer publications.