When you really think about it, business is just one big production. There are a variety of players and personalities to consider before putting on the big show; you have the C-Suites, the Marketers, the PR folks, the Writers, the Entrepreneurs, and yada, yada, yada.
Depending on the campaign at hand, different roles must become the star of the production. Except the prop guy of course. You know, the people who run around backstage wearing all black? Or what about the costume designer who slaves away over each hem, but is never seen on stage.
Before I ramble on with this ridiculous metaphor, let me clarify; I’m talking about Business-to-Business relations (aka B2B). This sector of Public Relations often flies under the radar, but it is just as important as investor or community relations. Okay, back to the theater.
So why do the costume designers, the stagehands, and the sound guy agree to work on a play, even though they don’t always get the spotlight? These people are your partners, but not exclusively yours. Perhaps working on your show will give them exposure or help them land a job at the next show. Some people just like the satisfaction of seeing there name on the playbill. Just like B2B communications, the relationship must be “mutually beneficial to both parties.”
It’s difficult to find specific examples of this in popular media because these communications are often done behind the scenes (har, har puns). Our increasing use of social media is making it easier to track these interactions. According to an article posted on Media Bistro, 91% of B2B Marketers use Twitter to communicate. It appears LinkedIn comes in a close second for making actual connections with other businesses. In my opinion, the most important factor in B2B communications is ease of access. It’s called BUSIness for a reason; their busy! Neither entity has the desire nor the time to track down their partners for information. That is where social media and private interfaces become prevalent.
Living Social, Groupon, Deal Chicken, etc. are a slightly unorthodox example of this relationship, but for the sake of explaining, they will do. In case you have been living under a rock, these companies work with a variety of businesses, ranging from Mom and Pop Shops to corporations like Amazon. They provide limited time deals and discounts, some for individual use and others for groups. Back in January of last year, Living Social received a large investment ($175 million) from Amazon to manage gift card deals on their behalf. You can read more about the deal and others like it in the Adage article, Living Social Establishes Itself as a Serious Groupon Rival. Both Living Social and Amazon are meant to turn a profit from this relationship.
BAM! We have ourselves a B2B partnership. Amazon provides Living Social with a nice discount to offer to Living Social members, and in turn, Living Social works their butts off to ensure the deal sells. Throughout the duration of the deal, the businesses are in constant communication, exchanging status and data reports, as well as forwarding customer information.
They each have a service the other one needs, hence “the mutually beneficial” relationship. I’m sure Living Social has a very personable PR team that knows how to market their deals to not only the public, but other business owners as well. I’ve learned from my current internship, that the best company websites are divided into sections based on a specific audiences; such as clients, customers, or business owners. This makes the site easier to navigate and helps separate related information into categories.
Without the support and partnerships of other businesses, Living Social could not survive. As I said, this is a somewhat unique situation. There are some businesses out there that don’t need others for survival. But really, can you imagine a good production without sets, costumes, or lights? Business, like all productions takes an entire network of people and partners to thrive.