You’ve probably run into this before. Say you’ve got an incredibly happy client, one that you went above and beyond for, who got outstanding results from your service.
A testimonial from them for your website, or a quote in a press piece, would go a long way toward helping you build your reputation and show what your brand is capable of. If you did some serious data-building work for Pizza Hut, for example, and their CEO is willing to speak to a journalist about it for a piece they’re including you in, that would work wonders for building your reputation.
However, the client isn’t comfortable with you sharing that info. They don’t want to advertise the fact that they’re outsourcing whatever function it is that you provide for them.
So what do you do? Do you have to write it off as a dead-end? Do you try to persuade them of the mutual benefit?
The answer depends, but two things are for sure:
- It will be more difficult to get press if your clients aren’t willing to speak on your behalf (or allow you to speak on what you did for them).
- You never want to breach your clients’ trust.
Given these, here are a few things you can do when you want to get the benefit of that client’s great experience within your B2B earned media, without breaching their trust.
- First, take a look at your contracts
You know what they say: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that applies in PR just like anything else.
To keep this problem from arising in the first place, take a look at your client contract. Many B2B brands include clauses that stipulate the brand is allowed to share certain client information with the press, as testimonials, or in other prescribed and appropriate methods.
Note: You should always consult with your attorney before adding to or changing any contracts.
If you have this clause in the contract before your clients sign, that will save you a whole lot of time and effort when you do start getting press and want to share what you’ve done for the companies that trust you.
On the flip side, many larger clients, especially in the B2B tech space, will include confidentiality agreements (non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs) in any contract they sign with a vendor to protect their intellectual property.
Obviously, it’s imperative that you know whether there is an NDA, and if so, what it covers before you approach a client about sharing their name in the press. Otherwise, you’ll be seen as unprepared and unprofessional.
Try to negotiate with your clients, highlighting the benefits to their own brand
If your contract with your client did not stipulate that you would be allowed to share specific information publicly, and the client has told you they don’t want their name shared, the next step is to start a conversation with them.
Crucially, you want to begin from a place of curiosity and compromise. Start by asking why your client doesn’t want their information shared, and listen closely to their answer.
If it has to do with something like confidentiality or real concerns about their own brand reputation, then of course it’s time to amicably close the conversation and move on.
Sometimes, however, the client hasn’t considered, or isn’t aware of, the potential benefits of being mentioned in the press alongside your brand.
The benefits of PR mentions are countless, but among the ones to highlight are:
- Increased brand awareness
- Reaching a new audience—YOUR audience
- Potential for linkbacks
- Benefits to their SEO
- Additional press coverage to include on their site
After all, press coverage in connection with your brand is still press coverage for your client.
And at most outlets, if you mention a client, that client will also receive a call from the journalist or creator working on the piece—which means your brand’s leadership likely has the chance to contribute a quote, or at least to build a new connection in the media.
These are all highly valuable outcomes that brands will pay to help achieve. In this case, simply by allowing you to mention them, they’re getting them for free.
If they still say no, describe the client and the service you performed in generic terms
Some clients won’t budge, either because they can’t or don’t want to—and that’s ok.
In these cases, it can work to describe the client and your work for them in generic terms. Instead of giving their name, you can say, “A Fortune 500 company in the consumer packaged goods space” or “a major B2C ecommerce brand.”
You want to make sure you hit your client’s size, industry, and relevance. “Award-winning,” “industry-leading,” and “innovative” are fine descriptors if included alongside more specific information, but they’re too vague to use alone.
You can then describe the work you performed for them similarly—”a marketing campaign,” or “a cloud integration,” etc.
If your own brand is already reasonably well known, this could be enough for the creator or journalist. If it’s not, ask the outlet what other information they need, and then work with your client to see if it’s possible to provide it.
Getting PR for your B2B brand is easier when you’re able to share the great experiences you’ve given your clients, but if not, there are workarounds. Remember to emphasize the benefits to your clients that can come from PR mentions in conjunction with your brand, and if you need to stick to generic terms to explain your work and successes, that may be enough.