What should B2B marketing professionals be thinking about for 2024?
The sheer quantity of new reports and advice available is – frankly – endless. So, to save you the time, we’ve reviewed a sample of sources for some useful tips to improve marketing, PR and content performance this year:
Towards better relationships with journalists and the media (and more coverage)
What do journalists want from companies? Cision’s research among 3,100 journalists across 17 markets shines a light on this, but also what they don’t want, which might be the most important starting point for better media relations:
In descending order of what offends journalists – and is counterproductive to your PR activity – is:
It’s basic stuff to any accomplished public relations professional or agency, but companies continue to get it wrong.
Getting it right means understanding what Cision has identified as the pressure journalists are under: “high workloads, tight deadlines, pressure to perform in an overly-crowded media landscape.” So, companies can make it easier on journalists (and themselves) by:
- Understanding the media audience and what’s relevant to them
- Providing data and expert sources
- Respecting deadlines
- Providing short, fact-filled pitches
- Including multimedia assets alongside text
The “straight talking” CEO
Under the headline “when CEOs should ditch the ‘PR polish'”, FT writer Oliver Balch praises the idea of straight-talking CEOs who choose to be their authentic selves with the media rather than the products of media training.
However, he caveats that: “But transparency is not always straightforward. Executives must ensure their messaging matches their company’s conduct, swerves regulatory and reputational risk and does not cross the line to giving too much away.”
In my experience, this comes down to striking a balance: engaging with the media is less about so-called “PR polish”, but solid preparation; to be prepared equally for the questions you expect and those you don’t. Having a PR professional involved in the process means the spokesperson has a sounding board, a sense-checker and a critical audience on which to test what he/she intends to share with a journalist. Ideally, the PR adviser should also have a sense of what other messages the company has communicated recently (or intends to communicate) and what’s happening in the wider news agenda that might affect the latest interview.
Media training – when done well – isn’t about creating a robotic, risk-averse automaton, but providing sound principles to help with media interview preparation (because nobody should be going blindly into a journalist interaction) and a safe space in which to practise under pressure.
A PR and content checklist
Meanwhile, Cision’s content planning calendar for 2024 also contains some rudimentary reminders for what will create more effective PR and content activity this year:
- Set clear objectives and align them with PR/content activity
- Align PR and content with overall company strategy – therefore collaborate across teams
- Know the topics that will resonate with your audience and communicate accordingly
- Keyword analysis – what is your audience searching for?
- Review what PR/content has worked (or not) in the past
- Be aware of the news agenda for responsive PR/content opportunities
- Focus on quality PR/content output over quantity
- Repurpose your content for different formats
- Promote your content via social media – including paid activity
- Measure and evaluate to understand impacts and outcomes
Among the raft of challenges facing B2B marketers, here’s a selection of areas that warrant consideration in 2024:
Research reported in MarketingProfs among UK and US professionals involved with content at their organisation cited keeping up with increasing content demands for various channels as the main challenge (51%), followed by allocating the right amount of budget/resources (43%) and aligning teams for effective collaboration/efficient workflows. Regarding AI, more than a third (35%) are using it already, almost half (42%) are planning to, but almost a quarter (23%) have no immediate plans to do so.
Regarding marketers’ sentiment towards AI, Kantar’s marketing trends 2024 report finds 67% feeling positive about the possibilities of generative AI, including use in visual concepts, ideation and crafting storylines.
However, like the 23% mentioned above, it’s worth stepping back and thinking about the implications of using AI.
According to Kantar’s research, 80% of people worldwide “make an effort” to buy from companies that support causes important to them. Equally, the research finds that people are now more likely to “act out” and be confrontational when brands don’t live up to buyer expectations of their culture claims.
A “shift towards sustainable innovation, inclusive communication and strategic PR to foster trust” is predicted by Kantar, with consumers “increasingly seek[ing] companies that contribute to environmental and social solutions”. Essentially, the need to balance profit, planet and people is a “valid business strategy”.
Brands that achieve competitive advantage through innovation have five characteristics, according to Kantar: consumer-centricity, strong brand foundations, shaping the future of their category and being ahead on sustainability. And this needs a combination of testing, learning and bravery.
LinkedIn – in its 5 Enduring B2B campaigns article – reminds us that creativity sells in B2B marketing because “only 5% of your potential buyers are in-market at any given time, which means 95% aren’t ready to buy. Creative marketing sticks in your future buyer’s memory, keeping your brand in-mind until they’re in-market.”
As quoted in Marketing Week, Helen James – CEO of creative agency, CPB Europe – talks about “prioritising attention”, which means “ensuring the target audience remembers, and then actually chooses, a given brand at the point of purchase”. Simple, right?
Good luck for 2024!
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