Recruiting Outcomes

With the emergence of ChatGPT, the world is waking up to changes in content. While these disruptions aren’t always visible to the average reader, top PR agencies have been aware of these changes for quite some time; well before AI-generated content. These changes are impacting all media, including tier one media outlets. These changes aren’t all bad – in fact, for PR savvy B2B companies, leveraging these opportunities can be game-changing. Whether you’re a challenger brand, an emerging industry or Pre-IPO, from CleanTech to HealthTech to Cannabis and AI companies, these are the 2024 B2B media trends leaders need today.

 

2024 B2B Media Trend #1: Thought Leadership, Not Just for CEOs

While CEOs will always play an important role in B2B brand reputation, today’s B2B companies can leverage other brilliant C-Suite leaders to expand their horizons and speak directly to their customer base. Let’s say you’re a SaaS platform for accountants – why not take advantage of thought leadership opportunities for your CFO? Your CEO probably has insights your customers and potential customers would really appreciate, and the signal you’re sending to them is “we get you.”

There’s no reason your C-Suite leaders need even to write their own content, ghost writers do the heavy lifting. In fact, from a brand reputation and thought leadership standpoint, having a ghostwriter is the most optimum choice. Top PR agencies have excellent writers in their ranks and you can take full advantage of their decades of discipline by leveraging that talent to do the heavy lifting of creating content calendars and ideas, not to mention eagle-eye editing.

While owned content remains extremely important, third-party thought leadership opportunities abound today. Never have there been so many opportunities for the C-Suite to make their mark. Today’s ambitious leaders are contributing to Forbes, Newsweek, Entrepreneur, and even industry verticals regularly. And that’s relevant because according to eMarketer, content marketing is the #2 channel driving revenues for B2B companies.

 

2024 B2B Media Trend #2: Give Me The Data

As advertising revenues decrease for top publications, there have been huge swaths of layoffs for journalists. Today’s freelance journalist doesn’t have the weight of the publication behind them in the same way and that means gathering marketplace, consumer, or trending data is harder than ever.

B2B companies can double down on earned media by commissioning credible research or leveraging their own data to provide insights to journalists on trending business stories. And remember, even the top business publications are chasing stories that are of broader interest to the public. Data is the hero of B2B PR – use it.

Not only will using data give you a burst of earned media coverage, but your customers will appreciate it, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. A well-structured survey will be useful throughout the year and position your company as the top of your industry immediately. Reports like this are also an excellent way to build out your database of potential customers.

Is commissioning credible data expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Only if you enjoy seeing your company in media outlets like Fortune, Inc., and Bloomberg. Even the Wall Street Journal uses third-party data, and there’s nothing like a quote from your leadership that solidifies a point of view with hard data.

While we’re at it, make PR decisions based on data, too. Modern PR firms have access to data that extends beyond reach and impressions. Identify target KPIs with your PR agency and demand they keep track of those KPIs quarterly. Your stakeholders, like B2B investors, will love this data and allow you to create credibility. Avaans Media uses a combination of social listening and AI to project trends and report on KPIs.

 

2024 B2B Media Trend #3: The Purpose Matters

As 2024 is an election year, there will be ever more eyes on how businesses impact culture. B2B companies can help their customers and themselves by articulating purpose beyond making money. Purpose-driven PR isn’t just for consumer brands anymore. This is especially true for Pre-IPO B2B companies.

Numerous B2B brands have leveraged purpose to distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace. According to the Harvard Business Review, Purpose-driven companies make more money, have more engaged employees, more loyal customers, and are better at innovation and transformational change.” Purpose is your secret weapon to productivity and PR because purpose gives you another connection to make to timely news stories, especially trending stories like climate and the changing labor force.

If all that isn’t reason enough, because so many B2B leaders shrug off purpose-driven initiatives, it’s a great way to create a competitive advantage, even and especially when there is uncertainty.

2024 B2B Media Trend #4: Re-Thinking Social Media for B2B Companies

For the past two decades, Twitter was the town hall that gathered VC, potential customers, and media. PR-savvy CEOs took a personal interest in Twitter and knew how to leverage it. What’s more – media outlets LOVED going to Twitter to find sources, take a pulse, and find perspectives. But today, Twitter (X) is a red hot mess. The platform is unstable; the future is uncertain; the bots and trolls have taken over, and media outlets have jumped ship because of reduced credibility. There has been an onslaught of Twitter replacements, from Meta’s Threads to Jack Dorsey’s Blue Sky. But neither of them have quite reached the levels of Twitter (yet). But LinkedIn is a trusted standby and more and more professionals, including journalists, are finding refuge there.

LinkedIn has so many ways to improve a B2B brand, but one of our favorites is the LinkedIn newsletter. Leverage this this with premium content gets delivered right to the inboxes of your subscribers. Inboxes that your newsletter doesn’t have access to. LinkedIn is also experimenting with AI-generated content that allows thought leaders to contribute.

2024 B2B Media Trend #5: Use Your PR for Recruitment and Sales

Media coverage provides proof to investors, clients, and the public. But it also provides social proof in recruiting and sales.

From a recruiting standpoint, when your brand is an industry leader, PR helps you attract the best talent. This is especially important for hypergrowth companies who need top talent to take them to the next level or emerging industries that need to establish broader credibility. Your media coverage tells a candidate as much about you as your recruiter does. Plus, ambitious employees like to imagine that there is room for them to be included in media coverage.

PR takes a lot of heat for not being trackable. We disagree, PR is trackable, when your PR is aligned with your business strategies. But nowhere is that more clear than how PR increases revenue. PR helps your current customers stay confident in their choice, reduces friction for new customers, and stimulates potential revenue by allowing you to share solutions that potential customers didn’t even know could be solved.

Ever notice the best people always seem to go to the best companies? Why is that? Reputation matters and PR improves recruiting outcomes. The magical part is this: it doesn’t matter whether you’re recruiting for executives or recent graduates, a strategic PR plan makes attracting the right talent easier and even keeps your best employees.

  1. Strong Brand Values Attract The Right Candidates

    You want candidates to be a good fit for your company’s culture and values. This is one way PR improves recruiting, especially important for companies in emerging industries and hyper-growth companies who may not have the resources for fancy employment retention programs. Your PR should underscore your company’s values and contributions to society, your industry, and yes, your employees. And candidates who care about culture are more valuable employees. Brand values are an inside-out job. But you should celebrate those values with purpose-driven activations with recruitment in mind. Not every activation is worthy of the Wall Street Journal, but if that’s a goal, then make it newsworthy. Otherwise, this is where social media can be an outstanding messenger of your PR initiatives. But make no doubt about it, the best candidates do a Google search and check out your social profiles before they accept your job offer.

  2. Give Employees an Opportunity to Brag

    Everyone wants to work in a place where their co-workers are happy to be there. Here, activate your earned media with your employees. Every time you receive coverage, be sure to tell your employees and let them brag about the company to their friends and community. You can encourage sharing with recruitment bonuses, and other internal spotlights on employees who share your good news far and wide. Employee advocacy is a really effective way that PR can improve recruiting. There’s another benefit to encouraging employees to share content:

  3. Reduce Employee Turnover with PR

    Everyone wants to feel proud of where they work, and the more they talk about how proud they are, the more committed they become to that feeling of loyalty and pride. That’s a Captivation Motivation fact, it’s akin to sunk costs. The more we sink into something, the harder it is to walk away. So PR improves recruiting through increased employee pride, and that pride reduces costly turnover. It’s a lot harder to complain about your job on social media if you’re regularly posting about how much you love your company and job.

  4. Reputation Management Matters

    You definitely want someone monitoring your overall reputation. That includes everything a potential candidate might see from Glass Door to news coverage and even reviews. You also want someone to identify how certain audiences perceive your overall communications and what you can do to improve your communications. For example, if you’re emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in your recruitment, but no one on your website reflects DEI values, it feels very shallow and unwelcoming to those candidates. Do your job descriptions match the education levels and pay ranges you’re hiring for?   If you’re hiring for people with college degrees, those job descriptions should look and feel differently than your job descriptions for roles that don’t require a college degree. Consider blind hiring initiatives that remove age, gender, race, location, and even college degree from the search qualifications.

  5. Appeal To The Ego

    When high-potential or high-level candidates see that news articles and media coverage of company executives, that’s a pretty compelling benefit for ambitious executives. It’s an outstanding way for your company to attract talent, even in the tightest recruitment markets. Plus, your that coverage adds benefits to your company’s brand values as well. Make sure your recruitment pages include executive coverage so potential employees can envision thier own name in the headlines too.

 

Using PR to improve recruiting outcomes is only one of the ways PR supports the most important business strategies, read more about the other 5 ways PR improves business outcomes.

B2B services are high-stakes. Whether you’re a SaaS company, or provide other enterprise services like Recruiting, CleanTech, or HealthTech, the competition is stiff, and the TAM, while it might be valuable, isn’t likely huge. And with today’s high levels of uncertainty, for B2B companies, it’s more important than ever to make the decision-making process easier than ever, secure additional investment or prepare for IPO. So how do winning B2B service companies stay competitive during times of uncertainty?

 

Thought Leadership for B2B Competitive Advantage

B2B CEOs have a bird’s-eye view of their industry and marketplace trends – they have to, so they know how to steer the company. This often includes insights that are valuable to your target buyer. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to use executive visibility to increase brand awareness. Yes, your CEO can and should champion your company, but they can gain the trust of insiders and analysts by contributing to the conversation within your industry.

There have never been more media opportunities for CEOs with distinct points of view. The opportunities are endless, from podcasts to opinion pieces and contributed insights. Take the time to create a topic calendar, and remember that podcasts often book months in advance, and contributed content usually has an editorial process that can take three weeks or more.

If your Google search “Who is [executive name]” doesn’t return pages worth of positive, reputation-building content, now is the time to remedy that. Executive visibility is critical in B2B services.

Leveraging PR as Content

Getting the interview or coverage is great, but you can make that coverage work for you when you leverage your PR. Activating your PR coverage makes it more valuable to you and is a great way to support the journalist. And just like a lot of content, you can re-use your PR for a long time. There’s no shame in sharing it repeatedly on social media. Just use your content judgment about context, platform, and frequency.

 

Owned Content For Trust That Supercharges B2B Services

B2B service companies can stay competitive by leveraging PR; from case studies to reports and statistics, B2B companies make waves and even national news with trends and statistics. General business and industry journalists share something: their love for data. Put together notable data points that you can share in your owned content and use it as a jumping-off point for topical pitches all year long.

While B2B media coverage often depends on long lead times, creating your own content is not. Use owned content to share your own narrative and improve your company’s LinkedIn presence. While we’re at it, consider launching a blog on Medium or LinkedIn. Despite what people say, you can repurpose content on these platforms and they are great inbound links and another way to get your message out to the targeted audience.

 

Be More Than Press Releases

There’s more to PR than press releases. Don’t get me wrong – press releases have a role in the content eco-system, but they aren’t useful for securing media.

For quality B2B coverage, your storytelling must include at least two of these three elements:

  • Timeliness/trending news tie-in
  • Clear audience impact/relevance/newsworthiness
  • Statistics and data which add context or change long-held assumptions

Emerging industry media coverage has an advantage regarding newsworthiness, but be careful not to fall into the lazy PR trap of describing everything as “innovative.” Emerging industries really need to craft compelling stories, and brands that differentiate set the agenda. Look at Marc Benioff at SalesForce. Over the years, SalesForce has set a lot of agendas, from employee culture to event marketing with Dreamforce. Benioff knew that great B2B storytelling spanned an array of topics, and headlines drove trust, and investor confidence, and attracted top talent – he knew not every piece of coverage had to look like a sales piece in order to be effective.

For quality media coverage, you must be ready and able to share who your customers are and how they benefit. Your case studies are critical – while no journalist will write an article based on your case studies, ensuring your spokespersons can articulate the case studies in a brand-consistent, media savvy way will make news coverage even more beneficial.

 

Times of economic uncertainty can be times for groundbreaking growth for B2B companies. Whether your company is pre-IPO or you are raising venture capital, PR is your partner and you can leverage it during times of uncertainty to keep growing when others are flailing.

Do we need PR? Possibly. Possibly not. It all starts with your goals. These are the 5 reasons why PR is vital to growth. Straight up: PR is the only way to differentiate yourself. While it might be tempting for businesses to focus on sales and marketing only and, it’s technically possible to operate a business without PR, it’s virtually impossible to become an industry leader or a household name without PR. Emerging industries, which need to establish credibility to investors and consumers, and hyper-growth companies with very ambitious growth plans need PR.

For emerging industries and hypergrowth brands in particular, PR is a vital partner to business goals that have long-term effects on the success of growing companies.

5 Reasons WhyDoing PR is Vital for Emerging Industries and Hyper-Growth Brand Success

At Avaans Media, we specialize in emerging industries and hyper-growth brands, be they B2B or B2C. From raising awareness with consistent media placement to aligning social media with your most important key messaging, to crisis prevention and management, having a cohesive and active PR presence is the secret ingredient to building brand equity and awareness. We’re so committed to helping you get to the next level; we base our PR pricing on your strategic objectives.

 

  1. Increase Revenue: PR has genuine and exciting implications for revenue growth. More credible than advertising PR contributes to increased sales conversion and deal flow improvement, as well as decreasing churn and increasing customer lifetime value (CLTV). Working with your top PR firm to develop baselines and KPIs for your business goals not only allows you to see the impact on your bottom line, but also enables your PR firm to develop a strategy that is effective and long-lasting.
  2. Attract Investors: For many emerging industry companies and hyper-growth brands, attracting investment is a key goal for scale. Investors like to see that your product has legs. There is no better endorsement of your product’s potential than media placement. It might be tempting to only use PR after you’ve secured investment, but PR can increase deal flow, give you more brand equity, and improve the quality of investment.
  3. Competitive Advantages: If you’re in an industry where there are a lot of competitors, then you absolutely need public relations. PR will help you clarify your messaging and ensure you know where and when you can stand out. Further, in crowded fields, what do consumers do? They Google brands to find reviews and articles. If your brand has this critical 3rd party social proof, it’s a massive edge for your brand.
  4. Recruitment: The best candidates know their value and want to work for companies that are known entities in their industry, no matter whether the job market is tight. Great candidates are rarely interested in growing a business that hasn’t committed resources to growing the business. No one ever became an industry leader by focusing solely on cutting costs. PR shouts from the rooftops: “we’re serious about our future,” and that’s just the message to appeal to the best and brightest talent at all levels.
  5. Attract Acquisition or an IPO: Sometimes the next stage in a company’s growth is an acquisition or an IPO. For both scenarios, completely integrated PR and marketing efforts are critical. For emerging industry companies and hyper-growth brands, if you’re serious about being acquired or an IPO, AND you want the best price for your company, now is the time to double down on brand equity investment. These strategic objectives require an aligned pre-IPO PR strategy that may differ from what you’ve done in the past. But since our company has done this many times, we can help you navigate and implement the strategy flawlessly.

Why is PR your secret weapon? These are only the most critical to business goals; there are hundreds of smaller PR advantages that increase revenue and even save you money. At Avaans Media, we’re exceptionally proud of our A-team, a group of experienced and insightful communication experts who never stop working for our clients. Get started being the most important brand you can be. Contact us today for a discussion about your business goals.

What is a Purpose-driven strategy? It’s the natural evolution of four converging cultural changes; the first is when social, cultural, and environmental issues became more visible and urgent, followed by consumers who expect brands to connect with nonprofits or social impact, driven by a lack of confidence in government to solve big problems, and finally, institutional investors evaluating environmental, social governance (ESG). Purpose puts a movement and impact first; the defining commitment of purpose is when it takes precedence over profits. Purpose-driven companies believe when society, the environment, and our collective well-being are doing well—businesses do better too.

Purpose-Driven Strategies have Three Key Pillars:

Employee and Systemic Engagement, Externally Virtuous, Meaty Measurable. 

These pillars of purpose require a company to be engaged in a systemic way, are independent of sales, and the impact should be both audacious and measurable. While purpose-driven strategies may give way to recruiting advantages, brand valuation, and competitive advantages, those are not the driving outcomes behind purpose. Purpose-driven PR is not the driving motivation behind purpose-driven implementations. The defining commitment of purpose is when it takes precedence over profitswhen internal culture is SO strong, so empowered, that decisions at all levels are made with a purpose in mind.

These Purpose Driven Strategy distinctions are important—because consumers—AND Investors are savvier than ever: They see through cause marketing campaigns with little authenticity. They’re alert to saying one thing, but doing another -greenwashing is so common it had a name.  Distrust in governments continued to decrease, while expectations of businesses continued to increase.

Purpose-driven strategies differ from the historical ways brands engaged with movements and nonprofits.

The Difference Between Purpose-Driven and Social Impact

Although used interchangeably sometimes, purpose and social impact are different. What exactly is purpose-driven strategy? It’s a deep, sustained engagement for change by which the company recognizes its own impact, including internally, at the corporate level. Social impact is 100% external and very often involves inspiring a stakeholder community, like customers, to work together for a sustained period. For this reason, businesses usually engage in social impact in partnership with nonprofits.

The Difference Between Purpose Driven Strategies and Philanthropy

The difference between purpose-driven strategies and philanthropy is based on the level of engagement the company commits to. Traditionally philanthropy was a broad term used to describe when a business contributed to a cause – anything from a social nonprofit to funding a building or a program at a college. This giving required very little else from the company outside of the donation. Companies often use philanthropy to attract other monied investors or achieve other strategic goals, but on the surface, having a philanthropic donation very often aligns with a marketing campaign or a PR campaign. Philanthropy also usually had little to do with employees and customer activism or interests.

The Difference Between Purpose Driven Strategies and Corporate Giving

That gave way to CORPORATE GIVING –programs. The United Way is an outstanding example of corporate giving, this is when an organization encourages its employees to unite behind a single cause to create a greater donation scale. At this stage, companies get more involved as multiple departments such as PR, or HR to create systems and messaging around corporate giving. Companies whose employees give a lot receive recognition in the community. Corporate giving gave employees the opportunity to easily give to an organization; some corporate giving programs allow employees to choose a cause that was important to them, but in the most traditional sense, the executive team partnered with a nonprofit to create a corporate giving program.

The Difference Between Purpose Driven Strategies and Cause Marketing

CAUSE MARKETING are initiatives that tied sales to a corporate donation  – started in 1983 when Amex donated a penny to restoring the Statue of Liberty every time someone used their card—cardholders grew 45% and card usage increased by 28%. By 2013, 76% of consumers thought it was OK for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time. Before we knew it, there was a cause marketing campaign everywhere we looked, from pink ribbons to yogurt lids. Enterprises like Hersheys even had internal positions that combined marketing & corporate social responsibility.

If you’re interested in implementing purpose-driven strategies at your company, check out our free guide to implementing purpose. 

The role of the CEO is ever-changing and one of the most notable evolutions is the expectation that a CEO be a visible leader. Some of the world’s best-known brands just wouldn’t be the same without their visible CEOs or founders. Ambitious companies from startup through IPO can take some cues from these leadership examples. With everything that a CEO has on their plate, why would they focus on thought leadership? Thought leadership checks off the optimal business outcomes from PR from increased brand value to easier recruiting, from investor awareness to consumer adoration, the reasons ambitious CEOs stay visible are clear:

  • 60% of decision-makers will pay a premium because thought leadership shows deep thinking and other virtues important to them.

  • People who follow both a company and one or more of its executives are twice as likely to purchase from that company.

  • 71% of decision-makers agree: thought leadership is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of an organization’s thinking.

  • 81% of consumers say CEOs should be personally visible.

 

Today, CEOs of public companies and private companies alike are finding creative ways to keep their company in the news and remain the face of the brand. Savvy leaders are looking for ways to weigh in on social or business issues that impact their customers or clients. Leaders are driving purpose and speaking about it openly, they’re weighing in on newsworthy items, and they do it without ever pitching or selling their products or services. The Wall Street Journal won’t be a brand’s shill, but it will cover remarkable ideas and perspectives – and CEOs tend to have those. Dollar for dollar, the time invested in thought leadership PR pays off handsomely.

Steve Jobs: Thought Leadership Pioneer

An early leader in thought leadership strategy was, of course, Steve Jobs. With his signature black turtleneck and visionary ideas, he kept both Apple customers and the media hanging on his every word.

We may never know why Jobs, who was famously persnickety, embraced a more public persona, but the outcomes were undeniable. Because Steve Jobs stood in front of the press, he was instantly more credible when he delivered high-flying ideas about how his newest Apple products would change the world. Jobs’ presentations always had a restrained flair of showmanship, but showmanship nonetheless.

Another advantage for Jobs? After Apple ousted him-HIS OWN COMPANY-being the face of the brand made him indelibly connected to Apple. Firing Jobs would have been much harder to do the second time, but because he embraced thought leadership, there was also less reason to do so – Apple products did very well. To this day, Jobs is inextricably tied to Apple’s brand.

Richard Branson: Innovating with Public Failures

Richard Branson’s key message is crystal clear: innovation. Branson walks the walk. several times, Branson took to the skies in a hot air balloon, risking his own life to set world records and at the same time, creating opportunities for people to talk about Virgin Airlines. This stunt paled in comparison to the ultimate flight into space he took with Virgin Galactic.

According to LinkedIn: [Branson is] popular with everyone from entrepreneurs to HR professionals and in industries ranging from tech to construction. The only continent where he doesn’t have a single follower is Antarctica. This kind of broad-based appeal is almost unheard of, but Branson has pulled it off because he has one other secret to success: authenticity. He is actively involved with his own press.

At one point in his native England, Richard Branson was famous for being famous. The press actually heckled him for his publicity stunts – but they never failed to cover them and Branson took it all in stride, knowing that his stunts appealed to consumers who would appreciate the distinct spin Branson put on the Virgin brand and its products. Branson also weighs in on topics popular with his audience, like income inequality and universal basic income, which he called for in 2018. Should UBI ever come to be, Branson will be able to say he was the first CEO to advocate for it, and if it never does, it’s not his fault. It’s a brilliant PR move.

Thought leadership is more important today than ever before, and yet there are PR landmines for CEOs everyone where. Don’t rush thought leadership, be strategic and purposeful. Positioning yourself as an expert is best done in stages as it takes time to find the right cadence and the right rhythm. Be prepared to spend some time developing your own personal brand in conjunction with your thought leadership PR agency. Taking the time to develop your own brand will create authenticity and trust – both essential elements of a successful thought leadership strategy.

 

For all Branson’s attempts to make history, there is one founder here who did it well before he did.

Sara Blakely: From Scrappy Sales to History Maker

From the start of Spanx, Sara Blakely took complete control of her reputation, and she knew what set her apart could be a differentiator for the brand, too. From startup to IPO, PR was always on Blakely’s mind.

One of my favorite Blakely stories is when she bought Olivia Newton John’s famous Grease pants at auction. Her target market, feeling slightly nostalgic for the days when they could have rocked those pants, celebrated the move – even as it was an extravagance, it was one that made her relatable to her target market. She got a ton of press on it, and she never even had to talk about Spanx – the press did it for her every time they said “Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx,” and the purchase was so on brand, it was difficult to ignore the brand. But that move was only one of a thousand steps Blakely took to control the narrative. She positioned herself as a thought leader by leaning into her differences as a woman CEO. She told, retold, and retold the story of how she founded Spanx without apology for its humble beginnings.

Blakely’s willingness to be the face of Spanx paid off with the ultimate metric: she is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

 

Whether your goal is to make history or maximize achievement, thought leadership for CEOs have never been more important than it is now. You’ve already done the hard work of becoming an expert – why not leverage it?