Welcome to the era of hybrid events – make the most of it!

Welcome to the era of hybrid events – make the most of it!

“Hybrid” might just be one of the key defining words of 2021. Hybrid work, hybrid school, shopping that combines online and in-store experience. Not to mention hybrid cars, which continuously grow in popularity. And now we are also entering the era of hybrid events, which are believed to be the perfect combination of what live and virtual events have to offer.

From offline to online – how the event organizers adapted to COVID-19
We all know it, we’ve all been there – the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world drastically, in many ways. In the PR sector, one of the most affected areas of our work has been, without a doubt, organizing events as a part of the communication strategy. Limitations, restrictions and the ever-changing global situation forced many of us to postpone or entirely cancel conferences, workshops and exhibitions – practically overnight. The severity of the situation meant that, if we wanted to keep those events as an important communication channel for our clients, we needed to quickly – and efficiently – adapt to those new conditions. And for the most part, that meant moving our events into the virtual world.

The concept of virtual events is not a new one, but it was never as popular and omnipresent as it is today. A recent report by Grand View Research indicates that the global virtual events market size is estimated to reach USD 504.76 billion by 2028, which amounts to an estimated 24% of annual growth rate[1]. According to another research, by Wild Apricot, the number of organizations planning virtual events doubled in 2020[2]. All of this means that online events have become the norm. Their organizers have learned to make them happen in an effective way that is also attractive for the audience, and the participants have learned to use them to their fullest.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has been here for a year and half now and it’s probably the time to ask ourselves: are those entirely virtual events really here to stay?

From online to hybrid – what the future holds
The answer to the above question would be: not likely. Why? Because people still long for that direct personal contact, now probably even more than before. Yes, virtual events have a whole lot of advantages, but at the same time it is clear that live features will always be an important part of any solid event agenda. The opportunity to acquire new contacts and establish new business relationships is an especially highly valued benefit of the in-person events. Participants point out their need to have direct contact with the speakers – and other attendees – which allows them to discuss important topics, cooperate, compare experiences and establish important new relationships for the future. This is just a part of the feedback that we as Omega Communication received from the participants of events organized for our clients, such as the annual “Automotive” conference by Siemens. While they appreciated the possibility to participate in the event at all in those difficult times, many of them pointed out that they would’ve preferred an in-person meeting if they had a choice.

Taking all that into consideration it seems that the new era of events will have to include “best of both worlds”, i.e. benefits resulting from both the online and the offline format. The industry is already leaning more and more towards what we know as hybrid events, that combine the most valued attributes of the in-person and the virtual experience.

Hybrid events: why they are worth it
A hybrid event basically means organizing your regular live event, with everything you’ve planned for it: the discussion panels, the exhibitions, the lectures and the audience – and adding a virtual side to them. This way, you’re inviting both participants that value the direct personal contact and the ones that prefer the flexibility of the online format. It’s really a win-win situation for everyone. Events that are held both in-person and virtually end up gathering a bigger audience and increasing their reach, which, of course, is important for you as the organizer. But your participants will appreciate this format too – they get to choose which way of participation is more beneficial for them, which makes it easier to organize their schedules and thus, they will be more likely to attend. You are basically giving them a more optimized experience that they can individually adjust to their needs. At the same time, you’re also ensuring that your event is more diverse and inclusive – because you are not limiting it to a specific region, you can invite both speakers and the audience from all over the world. You will also be pleased to find out that the hybrid events are typically less costly than the live, in-person ones, while they maintain – or even enhance – the participants’ experience and engagement. And last, but not least – hybrid events might be well positioned both in content and lead generating process. They can be sensibly integrated into the entire digital strategy of a company.

Go hybrid, but remember the big picture
Are you sold on the idea of organizing a hybrid event? Great! There’s still a few things that are worth remembering. First and foremost, do not forget that an event – no matter the online, offline or hybrid format – is never a goal in itself, nor does it exist in isolation. It is always a part of a bigger picture and should function in a specific business context. Deciding which topics are interesting and sought after on the market and defining who your target audience is, is extremely crucial for your event to be successful. Your audience will come to talk about the topics that they find important and to build relationships with other specialists interested in the area.

Now that we have this basic, but very important aspect covered, let’s talk hybrid events – and how to make them successful. First of all, remember to ensure that your live and online audiences are treated equally – if the in-person participants get to ask questions, so should the virtual ones. Make sure to prepare opportunities well-tailored to the way of participation. Prepare live chat rooms and virtual maps for the online audience and if you’re planning to invite your live participants for an evening dinner or concert – perhaps you can engage the virtual audience in them too. Send them a pre-packaged cocktail set or a meal delivery voucher – anything to make them feel like they’re welcome and not forgotten during your big evening gala. Remember the big picture but also do not forget technical details.

Into the post-pandemic times
The most important takeaway from 2020 is that we can get very creative when we need to. We have our ways to adjust to sudden changes and still make our events happen – and be successful. For the future, it seems like the hybrid formula is the way to go. We can derive a number of unprecedented benefits from it, using the knowledge and experience we have acquired during online events in the pandemic. Is it going to be challenging? Of course! But if we learned anything from 2020 is that we can face any challenge and end up being better than ever before.

By Dorota Sapija, Omega Communication

[1] https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-virtual-events-market

[2] https://resources.wildapricot.com/virtual-event-research-report

Is digital transformation right for all companies?

Is digital transformation right for all companies?

There are plenty of reports, publications and opinions on the process of change that people and organisations go through, highlighting its benefits and bringing to light its challenges. But in general, it is a period with a negative connotation, and perhaps this is because, as human beings, we are “creatures of habit”, who find it difficult to go through these changes and emerge unscathed.

But this last period has taught us – for those who had doubts – that we can spend years building something, and from one day we have to change it. Those companies that see these challenges of change and transformation as attractive are actually thinking out of the box with mostly very positive repercussions.

And while it may seem that the challenge is to define a goal, in reality, the most difficult thing is to decide the “what for”. Why are we going to make this change? Why are we going to digitise this process if it works as it is? Why are we going to invest time, resources and money in this development? Well, the answer should be that we are doing all this to improve the processes and the results achieved.

Until we understand that technology has to be at our service, and not the other way around, we will continue to face these digital transformation processes with fear, slowness and scepticism. Because to change, to think differently, to do these things differently, is simply to fight against years of learned habits.

We have more and more buzzwords that we repeat or blurt out in the middle of explaining a project, and that is meant to make it disruptive. But in the end, disruption is not discursive but factual, and it goes hand in hand with the size of the organisation and its problems. Just ask Robert Crandall, who in the late 1980s decided to remove the olive from the salad served on American Airlines flights, thus saving the company thousands of dollars a year. For some, he was a visionary, for others the man who uncovered the cuts in airline service quality.

Let’s consider for a moment this question inspired by a story told by Theodore Levitt. “What does Black & Decker do? Drills? DIY equipment? Tools? No. They make holes. Drills happen to be the best way to do it, but that may not always be the case. New technology can, for example, produce a laser-driven machine that can do the job better. If Black & Decker had not realised that it was in the hole-making business rather than the drill business, they would have been as vulnerable to competition as the roll film manufacturers were with the new technology of digital cameras.

There is no reason to believe that disruption and digital transformation are only for some organisations. From a shoe shop to an SME that manufactures screws, to a multinational, there are areas for digital improvement in this regard. And that is why they put technology at their service and not the other way around.

By Justi Vila, FJ Communications

Round pegs and square holes

Round pegs and square holes

As partners of the Whiteoaks International Network almost since the beginning, we have long been advocates of the value behind working with local PR agencies who can offer clients in-depth, on-the-ground knowledge and insight into their individual markets and above all, advice on how to best work with the local media and/or any other platforms for reaching the client’s target audiences effectively. Whilst working with a local agency undoubtedly requires more financial commitment compared with simply using an international newswire service or trying to do PR remotely from client HQ, it also creates much better returns and quality results all round.

That said, having chosen to go down that path, for a relationship with a local agency to really work and provide true value, it must be based on trust and confidence where the agency can operate as providers of consultancy and advice on the best way to achieve results and work with a level of autonomy that allows them to adapt and change global content in the way that they know will get good results. It’s no use engaging an agency at a local level if they are going to be used merely as a press release translation and distribution service, or micro-managed from client HQ to such an extent that they are unable to act and communicate freely and effectively on the client’s behalf.

A few weeks ago we had two almost identical scenarios to deal with which, because they were handled in different ways, generated two very different outcomes. Both were big US Tech clients. Both had written and planned to distribute not 1 but 3 press releases, on the same day, about upgrades and enhancements to their product or service offering globally.

One insisted that we ran with the translated versions of the release we had been sent, with very little option to make any changes to the text, and released them to the local media one after the other over two days, in line with the global announcement schedule. The other client however gave us carte blanche to translate and adapt the three releases as we felt appropriate, release all three, or just two, or amalgamate all three into one single release according to what we thought would work best for our market, and stagger the distribution in line with when it was best to do so. It doesn’t require a genius to figure out which of the two scenarios generated the best results in the end, in terms of quantity and quality of coverage.

So what can a business do to ensure that it is getting the best value for money from a local agency, in terms of supporting them and enabling them to do what they’ve been contracted to do?

  • Listen to their advice: It sounds obvious but it is undoubtedly the most important tip of all as it forms the foundation upon which the entire working relationship with the agency should be built. Nevertheless, it is surprising how often we have had cases where clients have gone against the advice given by the agency, based on years of experience and knowledge of the local market, to push ahead with a communication strategy that might work in their home market or in other regions but would never do so locally for whatever reason. Such situations rarely turn out good for either the client or the agency in the long term.
  • Let them build their own locally relevant content: Word for word translations of global content don’t work locally. Certain terms like ‘Seamless’, ‘Frictionless’, ‘Turnkey’ or ‘Insight’ are often nearly impossible to translate into other languages so paraphrasing is usually required. Quotes from local management work better than those from C-Suite execs that the local media can’t relate to. Local data always trumps global data when creating content about market trends or business outlooks. Giving the agency the creative freedom to create its own versions of press content guarantees that it will hit the mark and score the desired result.
  • Let them liaise closely with the local sales team: Often Marcoms teams at client HQ don’t want local sales teams to be involved in the local communications process. This is a BIG mistake. After all, the end game is to create local brand awareness, generate leads and help local sales sell more so why leave them out of the process? They can be a valuable source of local insight and stories that can resonate really well in the local media. They can help the agency understand the local industry better, assist with the translation of difficult technical terminology, and last but not least advise on which business areas or target audiences are the most important to them strategically so that the agency can focus efforts on supporting that. This isn’t just a “nice to have” – it is critical to the success of a local campaign. Every time a client gives us unfettered access to the local sales team, and the autonomy to work closely with them for the common good, the quality of the results is way beyond those achieved by centrally managed, siloed campaigns.
  • Support them with quality materials: Well written content needs good imagery and other materials such as video, infographics, and so on, to go with it. Making sure the local agency has quick and easy access to such materials without having to spend time requesting or sourcing them means they can concentrate on more productive tasks. It’s amazing how often we get sent press releases to distribute without a single image to accompany them. Or how often we are asked to pitch media briefings with client spokespeople but with no biographies or decent portrait photos to back them up with.

So instead of trying to fit round pegs into square holes by underutilising a local agency’s true value and expecting them to mechanically execute global strategy, businesses are always better off in the long term when they give local agencies the creative license to act in their best interests and leverage local knowledge, contacts and experience to optimum effect.

By Piers Finzel, Managing Director, Finzel Public Relations

Increasing brand awareness in a B2B environment? This is how you achieve it

Increasing brand awareness in a B2B environment? This is how you achieve it

Increasing brand awareness within a B2B environment is one of the objectives that is mentioned in most marketing and PR plans. As brand awareness brings many benefits, having this as an objective is not to be frowned upon. Companies with significant brand awareness are taken more seriously and face more opportunities than companies that have little awareness. Brand awareness ensures a certain position where other companies and businesses keep a close eye on you regarding trends and ideas. Also, potential customers and partners will be more likely to prefer doing business with you and you will attract high-quality applicants. Let us tell you how to achieve greater brand awareness within the B2B market.

Define your target audience
The first step to increasing brand awareness is creating visibility among your target audience. You have probably thought about who belongs to your target audience, but are you aware of the difficulties your target audience faces? Do you know which – business or non-business – goals they pursue or which (professional) media they find most interesting? It is important to delve into these matters. As a result, one will obtain a clear picture of the target audience and how to reach them effectively. If you are in need of help regarding this matter, then a buyer persona workshop might be interesting for you. Next, it is important to clarify what you want to transmit to your target audience. What do you stand for as a company? How does your product or service help your target audience?

Stand out!
The next step is to draw attention to yourself in such a manner that your target audience will not be able to ignore you. Keeping the current content overload in mind, one has to be creative in order to stand out. Luckily, there are several possibilities. Build a memorable campaign, share a unique vision or a controversial opinion, do innovative research or respond to current events. Even better, do all of the above. In any case, always keep your target audience in mind to produce valuable content that attracts and retains their attention.

The power of repetition
Standing out is easier said than done. An interview or thought-provoking opinion piece will draw extra attention, but it takes more than that to increase brand awareness. Prevent silence around your brand and make sure you are continuously visible. This way you create so-called memory structures. This means that the target audience links your brand to a certain value, need or situation. This requires patience and a long-term strategy. One does not remember everything that has come to his or her attention just once. To ensure that people remember your brand name and associate it with certain values, it has to come to their attention repeatedly. Preferably each time in a way that triggers the target audience.

What is next?
Undoubtedly you will want to know if all the effort is paying off. There are several ways to find out, for example by making sure that you can measure your total reach and the media value. Additionally, you can explore the Share of Voice or Share of Search on a particular subject. Do you prefer to measure qualitative results rather than quantitative results? Then consider measurement tools to determine the number of times you have achieved publications in tier one media or the number of times your core message has appeared in the media.

Getting started
In short: define your target audience, formulate a clear core message and create a plan that draws the attention of your target audience for a longer period of time. Are you struggling with finding the right core message? Are you not sure about how to reach your target audience effectively? Do not worry! We are more than willing to help. Turn to Marlin for our free PR consultation on how PR can contribute to your brand awareness. Or contact us at info@marcommit.nl.

By Pien Aldenzee, Marcommit

Times and attitudes are changing. Communication too!

Times and attitudes are changing. Communication too!

Research has shown that, both in B2B or B2C, communication plays an important part when it comes to making a purchase decision. Nowadays, if you plan to purchase something, you’ll first go to the internet to look for information about the products or the types of solutions on offer. Based on your research, you’ll probably list potential brands. For a supplier, it is important to provide sufficient relevant information enabling its products or services to get on that shortlist. Further through the decision process, good communication is the way to influence the client. It is meaningful to use various communication strategies and various types of content, all the way through the buyer’s journey. This journey will probably start by looking for general information to get a first impression. After this, in the decision phase, more technical information will be sought but mostly a prospective buyer will want to know how other customers were helped with the products or services on offer.

An organisation needs to make all this information available through various channels and various types of media. The more diverse the channels used, the more chances the provider will have to be noticed and thus end up on the shortlist. In terms of channels, we can think of trade press (press relations), your own website, your own magazine, social media… What it comes down to, is to set up a valid plan and distribute suitable content through the right channels.

What should not be forgotten is that communication and marketing, in general, are a long-term investment. To write a few blogs, send a few tweets and then hope that you’ll be found by everybody, is utopic. A planned approach is needed, in a form close to an industrial process, and a consistent implementation of that plan.

Target groups

A company has to be positioned as inclusive in order for every potential customer to feel that she/he is in the right place and will be addressed in the right way, as nobody likes being excluded.

Quite often, when we speak about ‘inclusive’ we envisage groups that are difficult to reach, from non-dominant cultural backgrounds. It is obvious that the business world is attaching increasing importance to diversity both in external and internal communication. It is also clear that diversity and inclusion is receiving more and more attention but sometimes in more positive ways than others.

The ‘why’ of inclusive communication lies in bringing together all these diverse players where government, enterprises and media sometimes seem to stand on one side and clients and end-users stand on the other side. Today, inclusive communication and marketing are looking for mechanisms and ways to bring these groups closer together and therefore make sure their way forward is consistent, efficient and relevant.

A lot has been said and written about diversity in our society. If you ask someone what he/she thinks about the word ‘diversity’, the first answer will generally be ethnic diversity, because diversity is too often looked upon in a simplistic way. Ethnic diversity has been part of our history for a long time. But inclusive communication is of course not only about ethnicity. Gender diversity will probably come in second place although, in recent years, the attention for gender has increased dramatically.

Today, gender norms and gender identity, but also the consequences this may have for various people in our society are of great importance. In the term LGBTQIA +, ‘transgender’ is used as an umbrella for a series of different meanings. In our societies, it is impossible to know how many people identify themselves as LGBTQIA+. Therefore we speak about a ‘hidden group’. In some countries, they are even more hidden than in others although their voices are still getting louder. And again, in some countries, the law has already been adapted to these increasingly louder voices. You may not have noticed, but since 2014 on Facebook there is a choice between 50 different gender identities. And if you scroll through your Linkedin connections, you’ll see that, between brackets, she/her, he/his was added by cisgender persons… This should shine a different light on the term gender.

At the end of the day, companies should be able to do what they need to: generate a great turnover. Therefore, inclusive communication should seriously be considered as it offers real added value. The more people that a brand, products or services can reach in a relevant way, the better off a company will be. If today, a company doesn’t think about inclusive communication, it will miss an important part of its target audiences and that part is only getting bigger. As the world evolves to become more global, diverse and connected, clients expect their suppliers to evolve with them. For a company, inclusiveness is the tool ‘by excellence’ to prepare for a super diverse future.

Not everyone is an early adopter

A study by Accenture shows that especially millennials tend to prefer brands for which diversity is of paramount importance. In the research ‘What Women Want’ by Kantar Group, it appears that several well-known brands are not really addressing women in the right way. They don’t understand the women’s real priorities and seem to be quite far from this target public. Today, a company or organisation that has something to sell or to say, has to be aware that society has changed and will keep changing. The opportunities are there and inclusive communications is a way to bring them within reach. It is the only way forward for government, enterprises and various other sectors.

Inclusive communication is an approach that attempts to reach as many people as possible and to engage with them – also for internal audiences. The result is positive communication, free from stereotypes. In many countries, there is still a lot of work to be done in that respect. Organisations that decide to develop this expertise and apply it to their own marketing and communication strategy, will do pioneer’s work and end up and being rewarded in terms of market share, especially in those markets where the attention of highly diverse target groups is enormously valuable. Benefits of this approach will also be felt internally, raising visibility for the company among potential recruits, and in relation to other external stakeholders, such as investors. Companies that are implementing inclusive communication are not afraid of change, and to grow one should not be afraid to implement change.

Being 100% inclusive won’t be easy. New debates arise, identity elements that were never considered before can all of a sudden be questioned. A well-oiled organisation has to be able to respond to these challenges and this is just the beginning. Companies don’t necessarily need to hire an in-house specialist, this knowledge can successfully be found externally. With the right consultancy, the sky is the limit!

By Catherine d’Adesky, Key Communications

5 Ways to Turn Your Customers into Brand Ambassadors

5 Ways to Turn Your Customers into Brand Ambassadors

We live in a review culture. People want to hear about new products and services from those who have used them rather than who is selling it to them. That’s why current, happy customers are an organization’s best tool in securing future ones and enhancing their reputation. Having a wealth of customer testimonials help to build a consistent, validated brand image. Read on for five tips for how you can turn your customers into brand ambassadors:

Ink the Deal

When writing up customer contracts, put the potential for media and marketing opportunities on the table immediately and aim high. Don’t stop for asking for a logo on your website; go for full participation in media and marketing efforts – quotes, testimonials, case studies, blog posts and Q&As. Even if the customer doesn’t agree to everything, you’re opening up a conversation. When customers ask what’s in it for them, remind them that it’s free promotion: they’ll be seen as smart business leaders, thought leaders and innovators.

Motivate Your Sales Team

Educate your salesforce, who are closest with customers and prospects, on what makes a customer-use case pitch-worthy. Through that process, reinforce the idea that it’s worth their time on this initiative as the customer stories speak volumes to prospects—and makes their jobs easier as salespeople.

Don’t Forget the C-Suite

It’s equally important to get the C-Suite on board with your efforts to reinforce the message that every customer is important. If executives foster a culture that celebrates customer success, that attitude will trickle down.

Create a Customer Advisory Board

When you treat your customers like partners, they trust you and want to see you succeed. A Customer Advisory Board is a good avenue to build those relationships. Customers want to feel that their voices are heard, especially by the companies they’ve invested time and money in. They will feel valued if you treat them like thought leaders and experts. Customer Advisory Boards gives customers an opportunity to speak freely about how they feel about your product or service, feedback that can be used to refine what you’re selling.

Conduct a Customer Survey

If customers are reluctant to speak out, so be it, but that shouldn’t prevent you from creating compelling data or storylines. Opt for an anonymous or blind customer survey to gather data on the value of your product or service and get responses from customers who are normally tight-lipped. If the responses are interesting, it can be a jumping-off point for a media campaign, blog and social media posts.

While skilful reputation management has always been key to the success of a brand, never before has the atmosphere of review culture been more pervasive. Work with your team on how customer stories can map to your brand’s unique objectives.

By Maura FitzGerald, V2 Communications

Podcasts are really taking off in B2B marketing

Podcasts are really taking off in B2B marketing

Put on your headphones

The facts
Podcasts are really taking off in B2B marketing: The results of the past five years are clear: Since 2016, the number of users has more than doubled. While 14% of Germans said they listened to podcasts regularly in 2016, the share was already more than 33% in 2020. If more than a third of Germans (similar figures apply to Europe) and more than half of Americans have podcast fever, then it can no longer be a temporary trend. It is a boom – a podcast boom.

The thematic areas
Podcasts are listened to on almost all topics. In 2020, of course, COVID-19 topics were the absolute front-runners with 83%. The midfield was occupied by news, comedy and sport & leisure. But also on supposedly drier topics such as health & medicine and technology & digital, around 39 percent and around 33 percent of Germans, respectively, were regularly updated.

Podcast in content marketing
This diverse mix of topics is the reason why podcasting can be classified as an ideal tool in content and online marketing. In addition, the Germans’ love of podcasts has not waned even in seemingly dry subject areas such as technology & digital, health & medicine or education. Below we have compiled the seven most important advantages of podcasts as a B2B marketing tool:

1. Podcasts strengthen expert positioning
Since the enthusiasm for podcasts does not diminish even with the supposedly dry topics, podcasting is also worthwhile for companies from the B2B sector. Because these companies often take a pioneering role in the tech or software sector. Podcasts can thus significantly advance the expert positioning of a company. One of the best-known podcasts that exploit the possibilities of content and online marketing to the maximum is the podcast OMR with Philipp Westermeyer (in German). Twice a week, CEOs of well-known companies, successful founders and media makers are invited to reveal their digital success mechanisms in an interview. Westermeyer has the formula for a successful podcast: No more boring car rides or sports sessions. Just subscribe to the OMR podcast and be part of it.

2. Podcasts are time enhancers
“No more boring car rides…” is an extremely important aspect of podcasts: the casualness of the medium. Podcasts serve as a medium in a fast-moving age that can be consumed whenever, it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the go or sitting at home. Podcasts are therefore ideal as a sideline medium, as a time enhancer for monotonous activities such as cleaning, driving or endurance sports, they promise “never be bored again”.

3. Podcasts are unobtrusive
One reason for its great popularity is certainly the fact that the medium is extremely unobtrusive and customer-friendly. The target group does not have to go through the hassle of registering (DSGVO sends its regards). No, all they have to do is subscribe to the appropriate podcast of their choice on a podcast platform such as Google, Spotify or Apple or download the latest podcasts via a podcast app.

4. Podcasts address very precise target groups
Another advantage of podcasts is that they are very pointedly tailored to the respective target group. In the past, the goal was to reach as many people as possible, but today it is more important to reach people who are really interested in the topic. Podcasting is ideal for this because a podcast on a niche topic such as online marketing or digitalisation of medical technology is only subscribed to by those who are really into the topic and understand it. This also has a further advantage for employer branding. Often, the attractiveness of a company as an employer is also shown in the podcast, which can turn listeners into potential employees.

5. Podcasts promote branding and brand loyalty
Podcasts are authentic and promote emotions. Be it the likeable voice of the host, the catchy intro music or certain other sounds or format characteristics characterise every podcast and make it unmistakable and unique. It is precisely these repetitive elements that trigger a sense of familiarity among listeners, which in turn influences branding and brand loyalty.

6. Podcasts are content treasure chests
Since podcasts usually do not deal with current topics, they can be archived very well and reused at different times, for example on certain anniversaries or as a focus of customer events. Podcast content can also be used as a secondary source via social media or on a company’s own website and thus provides considerably more visibility.

7. Podcasts are not (yet) mainstream
Podcasts were considered the marketing tool of the hour, especially in the B2B sector, in 2020. But still, podcasts are not mainstream in niche industries and companies can use them to positively differentiate themselves from the competition. The technical production and cost effort are limited, especially in comparison with video formats. In the USA, where the share of regular podcast listeners is over 50%, the production costs can already be financed with advertising. In Germany, that doesn’t work yet. So now is exactly the right time to position yourself in the B2B sector with a podcast. If you have any questions about format development and technical implementation, we will be happy to help you.

By Gloria Huppert, Media Relations Specialist, Fortis PR

Top 10 tactics for an engaging B2B news release

Top 10 tactics for an engaging B2B news release

Per a 2020 Muck Rack report, most journalists receive at least one pitch daily, yet publish under five stories a week, with a quarter or less of their stories originating from PR pitches. Factor into this the idea that writers face intense deadlines and that top-tier outlets often receive 100s of pitches a week, and it’s likely that you only have seconds, not minutes, before a journalist gets distracted and forgets your pitch.

Adding to the challenge, PR pitching is time-sensitive, so while you’re trying to issue an announcement, the value of your news may be quickly dropping for reporters and your company alike. But all is not lost, and it is possible to gain a journalist’s attention.

To help you smartly craft and deliver your news, here are some essential considerations that can determine the success of a news release:

1. Select an appropriate subject

A B2B news release can tackle many topics, such as a new product/service launch or partnership, winning a new client or an award, a new executive hire, public appearances, philanthropy projects and original research. Once you’ve selected a topic, be sure that the release is succinct, clear and straight to the point.

2. Target the right audience

Lack of personalization or bad timing are top reasons journalists reject otherwise relevant pitches. To avoid this, make sure your pitch aligns with the beat and types of stories covered by the reporter you’re sending it to. It also helps to give a specific reason why you’re bringing that news to a certain outlet (e.g., it aligns with a trending topic or an upcoming issue).

3. Create a headline with a newsworthy hook

 A great headline can succinctly state what your announcement means for an industry or topic that readers care about. Creating such a headline can help you break through the noise alongside the competition or even larger brands.

4. Put the most crucial summary info upfront

Many readers don’t get past the first paragraph before deciding whether to keep reading, so writers should place the most vital info about the release first followed by pertinent details below.

5. Keep your pitch short, meaningful and succinct

Short email pitches are often useful when sending out news releases. Most journalists feel that pitches over three paragraphs in length are too long. With that in mind, it’s best to communicate everything you need to in as few paragraphs as possible or in under 200 words.

6. Utilize value-added quotes

News release real estate is limited, so quotes must add value in unique ways and often perform many roles. Some methods for creating value-added quotes include explaining why the news is groundbreaking, summarizing a challenge and how it’s being resolved, using a powerful analogy, using humour to express a strong opinion or connecting the news with an industry’s macro-level issues.

7. Include imagery

 Intriguing imagery can greatly boost the value of content. Instead of stock art, it’s often better to use an action shot of your subject or an original image that is appropriate, interesting and informative. Something in high resolution (300+ dpi if a jpg) is preferable and usually necessary for print.

8. Think about using video

 A video may accomplish more than text or imagery. If you’re making your own, try to keep the runtime under four minutes. To show professionalism, ensure a high resolution, at least HD, and make sure shots are not shaky. To attract and retain viewers, write an effective storyboard and script, and end with a call to action. You can host it on Vimeo or YouTube, so people are comfortable opening it.

9. Ensure the “About” section is well written

Boilerplates at the end of news releases provide basic company info that journalists often need. Avoid salesy language and clearly explain key elements like products and services, customers, company location and size, missions and accolades. You may also want to add a call to action linking to your website and keywords for SEO.

10. Time your news effectively

 Issuing a news release at the right time helps avoid being lost among the clutter. It can be best to avoid Mondays, Friday afternoons or the weekends when journalists may not be working.  Also, consider issuing your news just before or after the stock market opens. Time zones are another factor to consider. Ideal times may differ for different industries, so learn the important times and dates of your vertical.

Most journalists’ inboxes are overflowing, so it’s vital to ensure every piece of a news release is crafted exceptionally. This could be the difference that makes your news heard.

By Robert Brownlie, Bob Gold & Associates

About the Author

Robert Brownlie is an integral part of the team at Bob Gold & Associates (BG&A) located in Los Angeles, California. Robert leads numerous technology accounts, including NiceLabel and Opengear. Prior to joining BG&A, Robert’s professional experiences include editing and creating technical documents, proposals and marketing materials for healthcare IT and civil engineers. Before entering the compelling world of public relations and business-to-business communication, Robert tutored English grammar at Long Beach City College and attended California State University Long Beach, where he graduated with a degree in English and Technical Communications. His background enables him to effectively write and pitch content for clients and contribute to results-driven marketing and communications strategies.

CSR & business: it’s time to take action!

CSR & business: it’s time to take action!

Faced with the unprecedented tensions generated by the health and economic crisis linked to the coronavirus, organizations must now urgently question their purpose and their way of operating. This is important not only so that they can prosper, but also so that they can be prepared to face future challenges and crises that we can already anticipate (climatic, economic, etc.).

But how can organizations restore meaning to their actions and bring confidence to their stakeholders and to society as a whole?

Compliance with CSR is not enough. Far from it.

The first major lesson to be learned from this crisis is that respecting a CSR commitment is not enough to ensure that organizations are prepared for the problems that may affect their activities and society in general.

For years, companies have complied with CSR constraints in an opportunistic and cosmetic manner without necessarily adhering to them or devoting much effort to them. Some have been forced to develop CSR policies and reports because of anti-corruption or local laws. Others have done a kind of “CSR washing” by communicating on basic initiatives far from having the real impact that real fundamental changes and investments could have on society and the environment.

And it is clear that these “small measures” are showing their limits today. Even companies practising what is called “flexibility at work” have found it difficult to set up fast and functional teleworking mechanisms, because they have not really invested in the adequate infrastructures. Only a few have been able to anticipate and react to support their workforce and maintain their supply chains.

This shows how organizations must go much further than what is recommended, required or dictated by law. To truly prepare for the changes in our world (global warming, biodiversity crisis, social, health or economic crises), they must do more and be prepared to absorb greater impacts. It is crucial to allocate more resources to identify risks, but also and above all to have open and transparent discussions with all stakeholders and to build a relationship of trust.

Companies also need to be more resilient and adaptable. To achieve this, the resources and decision-making powers allocated to CSR managers must be increased so that they can develop projects with a high impact on the organization’s core business rather than superficial actions.

Workplace flexibility is not just an “employer brand” argument

The other big lesson of this crisis is that emphasizing flexibility in the workplace should not just be an excuse to attract talent or get a good reputation. Many companies’ efforts to build an employer brand are exposed as a false nose if they are not supported by a true CSR culture.

For example, the coronavirus crisis shows us to what extent it is companies that have really adopted home working arrangements that are well thought out and take into account the human impact on the quality of life at work and also the environmental impact within the framework of a global CSR policy that has fared best. These companies had the time to learn what worked best and to set up control and production processes that not only guarantee optimized business continuity but also have a positive impact on the environment, which is at the heart of CSR concerns.

Because even if this is not replicable for all positions and all activities, the current crisis is proving to us that our company is able to function without having to drive to work and without the associated carbon emissions. It is regrettable that it has taken this “health incentive” to force the hand of many companies, but we must also hope that these companies will finally adopt genuine mobility policies that will, at last, make it possible to reduce our CO2 emissions, relieve transport congestion and improve the quality of life of the millions of employees who want to reconcile their professional and private lives.

A responsible corporate culture is not a luxury

“Thanks to” the coronavirus, we were finally able to measure the extent to which corporate culture was fundamental in reacting to a crisis.

Employee engagement and the creation of a strong corporate culture are key to demonstrating the value of its organizational ecosystem. Fairness, pay equity and management practices based on trust are founding elements in creating a culture of tolerance, openness, solidarity and resilience.

It is therefore obvious, in the light of current events, that a CSR policy can no longer be a posture but a reality because, once the crisis is over, we will have to take stock and, hopefully, based on the observation that the most virtuous companies have been better able to face the crisis, rethink their operating methods in order to instil more responsible cultures. To prepare managers, define an ethical charter or create fairer internal practices, organizations will have to be rebuilt from within and in-depth. And at the centre of these changes, CSR actors will have a central role to play.

by Alexis Noal, Senior Brand Strategist, Oxygen

4 ways to make social work (harder) for your business

4 ways to make social work (harder) for your business

If this year has shown us anything, it’s that the digital landscape is well equipped to handle adversity. In fact, studies have shown that the pandemic has actually boosted the digital economy.

From an individual perspective, we’ve used social media more this year than ever before, whether that was WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or LinkedIn. And not just for the usual stuff like keeping in touch with friends or watching dog videos (guilty). But for consuming news.

When it comes to business, the same is true. Which means organisations are or should be optimising the way they use social channels to get the maximum benefit, and connect and engage with their target audiences. It doesn’t need to be complicated or require a complete change in strategy. Instead, it’s about making social media work harder for your business.

Here’s how:

1. Stop thinking B2B

Gone are the days of separating B2B and B2C social media. B2B used to look to B2C for creativity and electrifying ideas. Now, B2B social media has firmly taken the creative reins and is delivering inspired, original and successful campaigns, without drawing on help from its consumer cousin. Which is how it should be because businesses understand that creativity is vital to creating thumb-stopping content that stands out from competitors.

2. Think mobile first

Both long and short form post copy have a place on social media. It’s all about presenting it to your audience in the right way. Like capturing your audience’s attention right up front to entice them to read the full post and respond to the call to action.

TIP: Did you know when viewing post activity on LinkedIn only the first 140 characters are available? LinkedIn will cut off your post with “See More” after this character count. Square and portrait social tiles also ensure domination when viewing the news feed via mobile.

3. Tap into new features

LinkedIn has dropped a number of new features this year. From LinkedIn Polls, Stories, Pages Posts, Events and Notify Employees. Mix up how you share your content on social media to get more visibility and drive results – all tailored to the audience you’re targeting.

4. Data doesn’t lie

Social media provides tons of metrics. When planning your social strategy, learn from what works, and what doesn’t, and make the changes. Beyond the numbers, tap into the quality of your data to understand follower demographics.

Moving ahead
Of course, social success should form part of your wider strategy which includes having the right content, talking to your audiences at the right time, and, of course, giving them something of value. That said, these four points are a great way to start the process of making your social media platforms work harder for your business.

If you’d like to find out more about this or how we can help, get in touch with the Whiteoaks Social Media team.

By Harriet Bolt, Social Media Manager