B2B Communications in Germany: Media Relations Rule! … Do they really do?

Quite honestly, I would have bet on the findings. A study commissioned by the German trade press association has confirmed that in Germany professional media are “… the most important job-related source of information for professional decision-makers…” (Source: PR Journal / https://bit.ly/1OUeVBZ ).

Dear Digital Natives: hold off on your jokes about the relationship between the study initiator and the findings. And dear devotees of traditional print journalism, if you still exist, please note that more than three-quarters of the respondents said they follow trade media content digitally, and almost as many indicated that the digital contents of businesses are crucial go-to sources. For us professional communicators, that means that media relations continue to be strategically important, right?

Is this breaking news? Well, somehow… at least for some social media apologists. Because sometimes I hear communications officers say: “What? The little bit of media relations work that needs to be done? We’ll just do it on the cuff.” Hmm, with that kind of an attitude, I can only wonder about the quality of their content. Have they ever really read a copy of any (highly specialized) German B2B publication? Non-Germans might be reminded that there is a super huge market for trade and vertical publications in this country.

As in the past, in this country, it is important, or better, strategically crucial, that the right, specific content makes its way into the media. Sure this is a complex process. And the effort will only pay off when the reader gets interested and goes on to search for further information in the web. Ideally then he or she will not only find the solution, but which company has it.

For example, how should an engineer who uses social media for personal purposes only, find a new technological approach if he or she doesn’t go looking for it? I’m not talking about the revolutionary developments –they spread virtually automatically. I mean specific approaches, small improvements as well as niche or step-by-step incremental solutions. These are found in trade media. The trade media triggers an impulse and resonates with the curious, spurring him or her to seek better solutions.

If you think through this thoroughly, this means that the PR content for media must be technically competent and designed for specific target groups, or even for an individual publication. Sure it has to take into account the corporate brand messages. But the trade media needs content depth, not the superficial messaging sufficient for a content marketing campaign. Of course, the SEO wash-down of content is needed for social media and owned media channels and it’s extremely important. But to claim “We’ll just do it on the cuff.” is under-estimating the strategy, the principles and the job.

Simply put, the survey results mean that in addition to comprehensive communication objectives and strategies, specialist expertise is central to success in communications. Decision-makers rely on people who understand the B2B ecosystem and technology, and are competent partners. Is this a groundbreaking new finding relevant in the digital age? It is at least for those who want to address the German market with their B2B products, technology and technical solutions and services.

Thomas Hahnel