The driver behind effective PR remains the same as it did 10, 20 even 30 years ago: strong messaging and quality writing. So what exactly has changed in PR from then to now? Well, just about everything. Here are our top 10 changes in B2B PR from the last decade.

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1. Increased Channels.

One of the biggest changes in B2B PR is in fact the balance of power. While still influential, the media no longer controls everything, and the vast majority of B2B brands have adopted both owned media channels and paid media tactics within their strategy, providing a platform for conveying their own messages. In other words, cutting out the middle man. Despite this, earned media is still incredibly valuable, as there is no replacement for third party endorsement of your brand and products or services.

On the flipside, the pendulum continues to swing towards consumers. While owned media has enabled B2B marketers to create their own channels of communication, coupled with the fact that digital content is so easy to distribute, there has been a subsequent increase in the opportunities. This has subsequently shifted the power to consumers as they are faced with increasing choices.

2. Measurement.

Back in 2005, PR professionals were just beginning to realise the importance of measuring PR against business outcomes. More specifically, PR measurement had begun to venture beyond the volume of press clippings, and towards the impact that the campaign had on the audience’s perception, market share and ultimately sales. Fast forward ten years, and PR measurement is still very much a trend. We’ve just dug deeper, and drilled down on the data, analytics and insight from both campaigns and the market, helping to make informed future decisions.

3. Storytelling.

In recent years, there has been a huge shift in the way marketers and PR professionals communicate with their target audiences, and one of the biggest changes in B2B PR is the number of companies adopting a storytelling approach within their communications. The art of brand storytelling combines messaging and narrative, to create engagement and inspire the audience to take action, ultimately by positioning a product or service as a solution to their problems. While B2C brands have been leveraging storytelling techniques for years, it is much newer in B2B, in fact, it is only really been since B2B brands such as GE began using storytelling to connect with audiences on both a personal and human level, that it became acknowledged as an important tactic for B2B marketers.

4. Social Media.

Can you imagine a world without Twitter? Well, less than a decade ago Twitter didn’t exist. Like it or loathe it, it goes without saying that social media has changed the face of PR, with LinkedIn, Twitter, even Facebook, providing a platform for companies to engage with their audiences directly, while building awareness and establishing credibility and trust amongst existing and potential customers. Specifically, social media provides a way for brands to get people talking, encourage the sharing of posts and increase WOM marketing. As if that wasn’t enough, social media now provides hyper-targeting tools, serving up relevant content based on users demographics.

5. Achieving More With Less.

Following the recession, marketers and PR professionals alike were faced with smaller budgets and had to make decisions on where to focus their energy, and ultimately their marketing spend. Today, the advent of new technologies and platforms, coupled with the changing B2B buying journey, has meant that there are significantly more opportunities available to marketers, and these marketers must subsequently allocate smaller budgets per channel, across a range of tactics and platforms.

6. Integration.

Perhaps the biggest change in B2B PR is that the lines between PR and SEO, advertising, digital marketing etc., are increasingly blurring. PR no longer works in isolation, and with online and offline marketing tactics becoming more and more integrated, marketers must effectively deliver consistent strategy and messaging across a range of mediums. It is vital that while PR professionals should retain their core skills, they must also adapt to these changes.

7. Increased pressure on journalists.

As marketers are faced with increasing channel options, journalists are subsequently put under increasing pressure. Whether we accept it or not, the decline in print readership and advertising has severely impacted the B2B magazine model, and while many have retained some power and remain profitable, many of the most successful publications have had no choice but to transition towards digital. Despite once owning the must-have information, publications, and even more specifically journalists now face huge competition, largely from owned media channels. With declining readerships, less control, smaller editorial teams and heavy competition from an array of digital options, including programmatic media buying, journalists must adapt with digital, if they are to remain relevant and influential.

8. Real-time.

Another change in B2B PR, is that PR has become a real-time business. While social media played a part in transforming the way the industry views PR, the internet as a whole has transformed the art of public relations. With news breaking as it happens, PR pros must be prepared to respond instantly. New-cycles are no longer measured in days, but in minutes and hours, and ‘newsjacking’ has been widely adopted as a tactic for providing comment or opinion at a critical moment of media interest, in-turn raising awareness and often changing perception. B2B PR professionals must be able to operate in a real-time environment, via a multitude of channels, while communicating with both target audiences and industry influencers.

9. Space vs. Attention.

Just over 10 years ago, marketers and PR professionals were still largely fighting for space; column inches, advertising etc. Today, these same marketers and PR professionals are fighting for attention. The proliferation of digital channels, and subsequent overload of information has lent way to shrinking attention spans. Marketers must now be able to stand out from the noise, capture their audience’s attention in a matter of seconds, and provide quality and engaging communications. Video, as an example, is the fastest growing medium for B2B communications, and has become a highly effective way for brands to convey their key messages.

10. Content Marketing.

Content is integral to almost all marketing communications tactics, PR included, as its purpose is to increase visibility and drive action. Content is no longer optional, it is a necessity, playing a vital role in nurturing prospects into sales-ready leads. Additionally, from a PR perspective, content isn’t just about development, it’s also about distribution. With the advent of owned media, content helps deliver long-term growth, increase search engine ranking and develop a brand’s position as a thought leader.

Keeping up-to-date with changes in B2B PR and marketing, and ultimately adapting your strategy to meet the needs of B2B buyers, is key to the success of your campaigns. Using our insight of the B2B tech industry and B2B PR and marketing best practices, we have created a guide to the Changing B2B Marketing Landscape, helping marketers develop highly successful campaigns.

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