Tag Archive for: content strategy

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.

There are so many ways consumer brands can effectively reach audiences today. Brands have a dizzying array of choices; it’s easy to lose track of the difference between paid content, what is sponsored content vs branded content and how does it work with PR? Even the term “media outlets” is confusing because there are so many. For our purposes today, media outlets refer to traditional publications with online versions rather than social media platforms or blogs. Today’s online and print versions (where they still exist) are radically different. There is usually a lot more content on the web version, and there are no space limitations, meaning sponsored and branded content has been democratized. It used to be that only the most prominent brands could afford to buy space in magazines like Women’s Wear Daily or People Magazine, but today, buying content on those online versions is possible for much smaller consumer brands.

 

Sponsored content vs branded content

What is sponsored content?

Sponsored content is produced in collaboration with the brand; the brand has at least some oversight.

Sometimes sponsored content includes indexed links useful to SEO. This is perhaps one of the most compelling advantages of sponsored content. It creates an inbound link from a reputable online source, and it shows up in Google searches, which enhances reputation.

Like an ad, sponsored content may guarantee a certain number of views or placement over a guaranteed amount of time. Some influencers or publications require complete creative control, especially with product reviews. Depending on the outlet, sponsored content, because it has editorial oversight, very often lasts longer, sometimes indefinitely.  Depending on the publication and the format, it will appear with “sponsored” or “ad” designations per FTC guidelines. Branded content can be an article in a publication or an influencer video.

What is branded content?

Branded content is a hybrid of editorial and paid content produced by the publication; it is native-appearing. The placement and content oversight are paid for, and in this way, it differs from earned media. Like sponsored content, branded content is far less interruption than traditional digital advertising. Sometimes branded content includes indexed and because of the editorial oversight, do-follow links useful to SEO.

How to effectively use sponsored and branded content?

The most successful sponsored content and branded does not read like an advertisement.  Instead, it maximizes the space to create entertainment value or evoke an emotional response with storytelling. Creating content that viewers want to read is why paid content is more effective than banner ads. Very often, paid content isn’t even directly about the brand, and it may be a piece of content that distills critical messages to the audience without directly pushing the company; instead, it moves the consumer’s perception of a product or a lifestyle change.

Over and over, I see paid content that feels like a giant ad, and I know it’s because someone in marketing, or maybe even an overly enthusiastic CEO read the copy and said something like,  “There’s no call to action!” or “We aren’t even talking about our product’s best features!” And so the entire piece reads like the brand website. This is such a sad waste of viewer attention. The intent is to create or reinforce the customer journey. Customers almost never buy on the first interaction with a brand, think about paid content as a first or second meeting.

Is paid content effective for consumer brands?

Branded content drives up to 86% more brand recall than traditional advertising. That’s a considerable uptick. So why does anyone do any other form of traditional advertising? The reason is that branded content works because it doesn’t feel like a strong call to action; rather, it feels informative or entertaining, or even like news.

How are branded content and sponsored content similar?

 

How to choose between brand content vs sponsored content? This might be a matter of budget. Experienced content creators like editors at sought-after publications are not cheap.  Sponsored content is often less expensive, and it isn’t usually as in-depth as branded coverage, nor is it always premium quality. Some outlets do not ever place sponsored content in a front page rotation, where they might for premium branded content.

Paid content is effective because, unlike paid advertising, it doesn’t interrupt the viewer’s experience. Very often, there isn’t even a solid call to action in sponsored content. Because there isn’t a strong call-to-action, many brands run ad campaigns alongside their sponsored content to cement brand recall, improving click rates on traditional advertisements. Like an ad, paid content may not be permanently hosted or appear in search indefinitely.  Paid content, when done well, engages the viewer for a longer period than an ad; as importantly, because the view engages with the content, they will be more likely to remember it.

We love paid content because, unlike a traditional ad, it’s usually stickier and can be leveraged in many of the same ways as earned media.

How does it compare to earned media?

Sponsored content feels more trusted than advertisements but not as trusted as independent coverage or reviews. But, like earned media, it provides a way for brands to reach viewers while they’re in the mindset to consume content or while they’re searching for information related to the brand.

Because it isn’t paid, earned media is more trusted, and therefore, more valuable. Also, earned media is permanent. We see search results for earned content that is several years old but still relevant. So earned media is far stickier.

How does it fit in with PR and content strategy?

From a PR and content strategy perspective, we like to use sponsored or branded content to kick off a campaign; this gives us some control over the message early on and guarantees some visibility and search indexing. We use paid content with many of our thought leadership programs, to help leaders develop their voice, their point of view, and reputation. We also use paid content for product introduction. It is not uncommon to see brands use sponsored content in other forms of promotion and advertising.

In short, we think a lot of paid content makes sense with a digitally savvy PR campaign.