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

7 Reasons Why Video Will be Crucial to PR in 2021

7 Reasons Why Video Will be Crucial to PR in 2021

Today’s PR agencies have an ambitious task at hand: break through the noise of a hyper-digital, multi-screen world. Not only this but maintain people’s interest in an industry where exciting news, research, and partnerships emerge daily.

How can PR pros elevate their strategy in a way that goes beyond the printed word? What determines a quick scroll from a captivated moment?

The answer lies in video.

Engaging, digestible, and creating new opportunities for coverage, video’s powerful form is quickly becoming the way to amplify your corporate PR strategy in 2021.

Here are 7 powerful reasons to prove it:

1. Video is Taking Over Digital Media

Video has never been more accessible, be it through our smartphones, laptops, webcams, or professional cameras. It’s this convenience that has created a major rise in video content and its demand. In fact, Cisco estimates video is expected to make up 82% of internet traffic by 2022.

Likewise, more platforms are prioritizing video as it becomes the most consumed and shared form of content. LinkedIn, a staple platform for most B2B executives, launched its live feature while Facebook announced its algorithm will prioritize videos to promote more meaningful interactions.

2.  It’s How News is Being Consumed

With the decline of print and digital newsrooms, news video consumption across social media and video platforms like YouTube has seen a drastic increase globally. This information is vital to PR agencies who must be on top of the latest trends in news consumption; extending their distribution strategy to video-oriented platforms will only maximize coverage visibility.

3. Video is a Magnet for Engagement

At the core of PR is an appreciation for meaningful connections. PR execs work hard to create attractive written material, but without video, they will be missing out on a huge opportunity for engagement.

On social media alone, video gets shared 12 times more than text and images combined. Forbes also reported that 59% of senior executives prefer to watch a video over text; that said, video could determine if a future client reaches out to your agency or a senior reporter responds to a critical pitch.

4. It is Humanizing

Many companies lack “a face” alongside their releases or stories, making it difficult for media and future partners to feel a genuine connection.

That’s where video comes in. Creating a video campaign is a fantastic way to go beyond the press release, and turbo-charge your key messages. More than anything, video spotlights executives and gives a human touch to their industry knowledge. Content like this is also strategic as it creates traction, helping to support placements and thought leadership articles across key industry trades.

That humanizing effect goes beyond thought leadership. Video helps make important conversations on social issues, company culture and other topics not just shareable, but memorable; studies have shown that viewers retain 95% of a video’s message compared to 10% when reading text, making video a powerful tool for tackling difficult topics, developing authenticity, and creating lasting change.

5. Video is an Effective Way to Repurpose Written Content

The ongoing pandemic has driven a demand for PR services that can help businesses work through a crisis or broaden their thought leadership during a time when digital media engagement is at an unprecedented high.

With fast turnarounds required to appease both clients and an ever-increasing online audience, agencies will find that repurposing their written material through video is an efficient strategy to produce a diverse portfolio of highly in-demand video content like vlogs, event recaps, interviews, webinars and more.

6. It Improves SEO

A website is 53 times more likely to reach the front page of Google if it includes video, making it a crucial addition to PR agency websites and initiatives. Research also shows that a web page with video will cause people to stay 2.6 times longer on average. 

7. Virtual Events Will Continue, Even After 2021

While the future of in-person events is uncertain, 71% of marketers agree that virtual events won’t be fading out anytime soon. Virtual conferences are in fact more budget-friendly and immediately accessible to businesses. And with the steady advancements to both event tech and event experience, virtual event conferencing will remain a key networking opportunity for PR folks attending or producing an event.

Using these 7 reasons can help PR pros navigate the increasingly digital and complex world of public relations. As agencies head out of a largely remote year of communications and into yet another, it’s important to keep in mind that video will only continue to thrive as the most impactful, personable, and memorable form of content in the online ecosystem. Likewise, adding video to your 2021 PR strategy will not only create more coverage, but distinguish experiences that can lead to long-term partnerships, clients, and followers.

About Anabela Savulescu

Anabela is an Account Coordinator at Bob Gold & Associates and a graduate from University of California, Santa Cruz, where she majored in literature. She has a passion for storytelling and bringing life to content across an ever-changing media landscape.

A step beyond: what’s next for crisis comms

A step beyond: what’s next for crisis comms

If there’s one thing that this year has highlighted to business, it’s the value of crisis communications and the importance of having the right strategy in place to deal with said crisis.

But before we start using words like “unprecedented” and “new normal”, it may help to take a step back and ask ourselves what a crisis is — the first step in dealing with one. Simply stated, a crisis is a significant event that results in high levels of scrutiny which has the potential to affect an organisation’s normal operations.

Looking at 2020, the defining feature when it comes to the crisis is that the pandemic has affected all organisations; it’s a global challenge. Yes, it has impacted businesses differently in terms of customer service, logistics, supply chain, etc., but overall, everyone has been affected.

That said, the basic principles of crisis comms still apply and haven’t changed. What may change, and certainly should change, is the way we approach planning given the benefit of hindsight and experience from the year so far.

A case in point is scenario planning; a successful crisis comms plan includes preparing for a host of potential crises e.g. an executive scandal, data breach or natural disaster. Now, however, and moving forward, we’ll be including managing the impact of a global pandemic.

Because one key piece of advice we offer our clients is that you shouldn’t do crisis comms planning during a crisis. It can lead to hasty (and poor) decision making and a less than favourable outcome for the business and its stakeholders.

Our current situation might be an anomaly, but it has demonstrated how important the core principles are:

  • Plan for tomorrow
  • Respond rapidly
  • Work with local authorities
  • Position your management front and centre
  • Be open and honest
  • Demonstrate concern and convey integrity
  • Speak with one voice

It has also highlighted the importance of accuracy. During a crisis, it is crucial for businesses to only communicate what they know to be true. Speculation is never advised. Earlier on in the pandemic this came into sharp focus with many brands falling short after making bold statements about impact, job losses, etc. when they simply didn’t have the information available to back that up.

Brands that fared well include those that admitted what they didn’t know but balanced that with making it clear what their plans were to deal with the crisis.

Moving beyond 2020, it’s natural that the crisis comms landscape will continue to evolve, shaped by external factors — much like it’s changed from the 1990s (when it was primarily media relations focused) to now where multiple audiences are important and the use of social media makes it simultaneously more challenging yet easier to monitor what is being communicated.

While COVID has certainly taught us a lot, it’s the adherence to the basic principles and being prepared that will help organisations through. It’s about being proactive, understanding the situation and having the tools at your disposal (like the right message communicated to the right audiences) to ensure you’re addressing the crisis and demonstrating that you have a handle on things, even when there is information that you don’t yet know.

By James Kelliher, CEO, Whiteoaks International

Digital Trade Fairs – the new normal in 2021?

Digital Trade Fairs – the new normal in 2021?

What have we learnt in this crazy year 2020? Video conferences are the norm, and so is social distancing with colleagues. Work in the communications industry is largely the same, but what it’s missing is personal communication. Customers are physically absent from the shops, at meetings and events. And of course personal exchanges at trade fairs is missing. A trade fair was always something exciting — setting up on time, getting customer invitations out, securing press atttendees. And now? Everything is different. Companies that were regulars at trade shows are now doing virtual events instead.

Help, everything digital!?

Practice has shown in 2020 that trade fair organisers were sometimes technically and conceptually overburdened to reproduce a presence fair 1:1 digitally. Starting with the fact that only a few trade fair visitors take the trouble to take a tour of several stands online. Often the hurdles are too high, for example when logging in or during the registration procedure. If the trade fair server is overloaded, nothing works and the patience of visitors and exhibitors is put to a hard test. As a result, potential customers have often only made a few selected appointments. Virtually, only a few visitors saw the whole exhibition, unlike a physical event. Both trade fair organisers and exhibitors draw their conclusions from this experience and will continue to develop further.

As an agency, we have advised our clients to take a digital trade fair presence seriously. The rejection of the stand builder alone is not enough. A simple Q&A with a spokesperson from your company during a digital trade fair is not enough. A trade fair appearance in digital format should not be underestimated. Here too, companies are in competition with each other, and there are always companies that make the perfect appearance.

In order to provide our customers with the best service, we develop comprehensive consulting packages. Our core competence, working with media representatives, takes place digitally. Media and advertising planning in advance is largely unaffected, whether a trade fair takes place in in-person or digitally. What was really exciting for all of us was the planning of the actual trade fair appearance. What does a digital room look like, how many rooms are needed and which employees are available? In close consultation and agreement with the customers, we worked out the customers’ trade fair programme together and supported them in a technical and communicative capacity.

In order to be noticed in the digital space, the package included the regular use of all necessary social media channels such as LinkedIn, Xing, Instagram and YouTube. In the run-up to the trade fair, we advertised in trade magazines, the same channels we would use for a physical fair. We also placed PR articles in the trade journals.

Lead generation with content

Anyone who goes to a trade fair as an exhibitor or takes part in it virtually must have something to report. As an agency, we offer advice in finding the right topics and in creating professionally prepared content. In contrast to real trade fairs, German trade fair visitors do not first and foremost seek personal contact, but are looking for really good content. They prefer to use the time they spend on your stand to consume your content rather than chatting with you. For this reason: the content must be prepared in such a way that it attracts visitors to the virtual stand and thus becomes the best tool for your lead generation.

The target group

You also need to know your target group really well. So well that you can assess how they will react to the digital appearance of your company. “All business is local”, and this experience was reflected in the Intergeo digital 2020. The international audience was much less afraid to log into an event live and with pictures via video.

Summary and outlook

At present, we see no way back to normality before the corona pandemic. Video conferences and home offices are now part of everyday life and it is impossible to imagine life without them. Physical fairs have been in crisis for quite some time now, and in 2019 there was already a hail of cancellations of fairs in Germany. The pandemic has greatly accelerated this process. We think that decisions must be made on an industry-specific basis. There are industries where a trade fair fulfils its purpose, such as an order fair in the fashion or sporting goods sector. In many other sectors, negotiations take place throughout the year and there is no need for a personal meeting at a trade fair. Transferring a trade fair concept 1:1 into a digital space will not work for everyone. Smaller and more flexible formats will be required in the future. Companies should not wait and see what the market offers them, but should take action themselves. Why not offer a roadshow or an in-house exhibition virtually. As an agency we are called upon here to proactively develop concepts for our customers.

By Petra Winklbauer & Liane Lahl, Fortis PR

Make Social Media Work for You: A Four-step Guide to Driving Revenue

Make Social Media Work for You: A Four-step Guide to Driving Revenue

As of 2020, there are nearly 4 billion social media users, including the over 90% of businesses that have also deployed a social media strategy. What does this large user pool mean to PR practitioners? It is simultaneously more challenging and more profitable to cut through the noise and gain visibility.

As opposed to only drafting content to be posted online, social media marketing has become a more extensive process, including analysis of web statistics and targeted strategies. As those who have tried to meet a Tweet’s character limit can attest, it can seem like your conducting intensive surgery with each and every word!

But beneath all the traffic statistics and intricate tactics, the core fundamentals driving a campaign will, in the end, determine if it is successful or not. Fortunately, these crucial components can be condensed to these basic tenets – monitoring, managing, measuring and monetizing.

Once marketers master the art of creating a clear plan of action that incorporates these four tenets, social media campaigns can be carried out with great success.

Monitor the social media ecosystem

Whether you’re creating an entire digital marketing strategy or are just trying to find the best hashtags or subject for your CEO’s next post, knowing the trending topics pertinent to your target audience as well as what social activities competitors are doing is a vital first step. Monitoring active conversations also brings an additional benefit – it helps you find new subjects that your business can offer unique insight into.

Manually scouring different platforms for keywords can suck up too much time for the effort. Instead, once you’ve defined goals, it helps to adopt a centralized software solution, like Hootsuite, that is able to track and analyze conversations and supply immediate insights. When using a software platform, be sure you know how to best use its search strings and capabilities to maximize efforts.

Manage efficiently to achieve clearly defined goals

Activities should be carried out to achieve SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals. Once a campaign is started, efficient management is vital to achieving these clearly laid out goals. It is crucial to refine social campaigns by tracking what is working and what is not and quickly reacting to improve performance. Additionally, those managing social media should avoid scenarios where they are rushing to manually post all their content. Instead, tweets and posts should be planned, scheduled and tracked within a calendar.

It is also critical to respond to any comments, or a dearth of them. This helps teams encourage conversations and discover new leads. While analytics, software platforms and strategies are necessary, efficiently managing execution will also be a critical success factor to continuous success over time.

Measure progress continuously

Social media campaigns can include marketing on many platforms, making them difficult to track and analyze. Yet, doing so is vital, especially if you must report to a chief marketing officer, other executives or board members.

To make reporting more efficient, you should decide on how you plan to measure success before you begin working on it, create a central place for all stakeholders involved to regularly track metrics, and ensure the data being tracked tells a compelling story about how social media marketing is driving revenue or improving customer service.

As an example, there are more than 1 billion websites vying for engagement, so a major goal when measuring your social media will probably be tied to generating website traffic. For such a goal, you should track measurements like post click-through rates in combination with ways to monitor how a website engages viewers and converts traffic to leads. By consistently measuring such traits, you demonstrate to your organizational leaders how sales are being bolstered while also gaining knowledge about which strategies are most effective.

Monetize social campaigns

With measurements helping create a data-led path to follow, you will ultimately want to demonstrate how your social media marketing is driving revenue growth. If marketers are able to draw a direct connection between social media marketing and sales, the value a campaign is bringing becomes immediately noticeable.

To link your reporting metrics to bottom-line growth, you should measure the impact of owned, earned and paid media in relation to overarching goals that depict value, like customer service and retention, social presence and lead generation. Then there are key metrics that should be monitored, including the number of comments, SEO scores, email sign-ups, click-throughs, followers, etc.

While there are a plethora of metrics that can indicate social media success, organizational leaders will be most concerned with customer retention, lead conversion and any benchmark that directly links marketing to revenue growth.

Diligently pursue success

Try to help others understand that social media marketing is not about instantaneous gratification. This is particularly true if your goal is to keep customers tuned in and develop ongoing relationships with them.

Instead, success can be achieved by consistently following these four fundamentals, tracking different metrics to improve efforts and significantly contributing to the bottom line wherever possible. Taking this type of action now will help a business to better compete in years to come, especially as the number of social media users continually grows alongside the social media strategies of most businesses.

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.

It’s not all bad news

It’s not all bad news

It’s a sad but true fact that it often takes a disaster or calamitous event for real change to happen. Like when new safety measures are hurriedly imposed after a fire, despite the fact that experts had been warning long beforehand that they were needed. It seems, at least for now, that it has taken the catastrophe of the global pandemic and its far-reaching effects in our personal and work lives for business leaders to become aware and focus their minds on the real value of PR.

All too often, PR makes up a small percentage of global marketing budgets, with advertising and events making up by far the largest part of total marketing spend. Despite PR being demonstrably better value for money in the long term. That has all changed drastically this year with most media reporting that advertising-income has plummeted as a result of the pandemic and the events industry, for obvious reasons, has all but evaporated overnight. I ran into a friend in the supermarket the other day – he runs an event management agency and I hadn’t seen him since the first lockdown. I asked him how business was, to which he replied that he had had to close it down

This made me feel slightly uncomfortable because exactly the opposite has happened to our business since the start of the crisis and it’s not hard to see that a significant part of the client revenue he used to enjoy is now being diverted to PR agencies like ours. As our partners correctly imply in their blog posts below, it is now more critical than ever for businesses to invest in communication. On the one hand in order to reassure their target audiences, clients, partners, employees and other stakeholders about what their organisation is doing to mitigate the effects of the constantly changing situation. And on the other hand, because most forward-thinking businesses will be aware that investing in reaching out to their audiences now will provide greater returns, once life returns to something resembling normal in the future. Also, it will help position them favourably against competitors who perhaps decided not to continue their communication plans for the moment.

Those businesses that recognise this are turning to PR as one of the most viable alternatives to advertising, especially tech companies. The global pandemic has forced an acceleration in the adoption of digital technologies which in many cases were already out there in the market but struggling to gain recognition. Automation, video streaming, cloud storage, Big Data, e-commerce, video conferencing – all are enjoying a boom in awareness and media interest due to the pandemic and after many years of advocating for technology to be put at the centre of achieving digital transformation. Vendors in these areas are now the absolute protagonists.

And it is the acceptance of these digital technologies within the context of the global pandemic, which is providing us with innumerable storytelling. Use case stories with human interest that help us reach out to media we were unable to approach before. Such as how automation is helping businesses cope with safety restrictions in the workplace and labour shortages, boutique retailers forced by circumstances to adopt e-commerce to sell their wares and who are now selling more than ever. Video conferencing platforms helping families and friends keep in touch during lockdown and periods of isolation, and so on.

The Covid crisis has been undeniably catastrophic for the world in so many ways, with millions losing loved ones or suffering the long term effects of having caught the virus themselves. And so many others, like the friend I met in the supermarket, whose businesses and livelihoods have been destroyed. But if you look hard, one can see many positives to come out of this – changes that have presented us with an opportunity to re-evaluate the way we live and the way we do business and maybe, just maybe, find ourselves living in a better world when this is all over. How remote working has allowed so many to recover the time they used to waste commuting to the office and as a result reconnect with their homes and family lives is just one example of this.

For my part I hope that companies will continue to appreciate PR for the valuable tool that it is even after the crisis comes to an end, marketing activities such as events and trade shows become workable again and they have to decide where to assign budget.

By Piers Finzel, Managing Director, Finzel PR

20 years in IT and tech PR

20 years in IT and tech PR

Marcommit turned 20 this year. A feat I couldn’t be more proud of. This also inspired me to do some reflecting. Because times have changed significantly, but that might not be true for us. Back in 2000, mobile phones had buttons, people used MSN and Myspace and media were reigned by print. Well, you could say things changed, but many things have remained the same. In this blog, I’ll discuss the changes in public relations, B2B and the IT and tech industry.

Public relations, stronger than ever
There is nothing more powerful than an independent publication writing about your brand. It’s only with the right pieces of coverage in the right media that you build a credible brand or claim thought leadership. Achieving this using only your own channels is nearly impossible. In recent years, angry voices often claimed traditional newspaper and vertical media would become less important. Well, a few, maybe. But many vertical media are gaining ground and many digital media outlets have entered the scene. More targeted, more specific, more measurable. It is our job as PR experts to know these media inside out. And to keep believing in their power and know how to use this to a maximum.

Storytelling enters B2B
In contrast to the B2C-market, where brands sometimes solely compete on a price level, B2B requires a strong story in order to differentiate. It is a whole different ball game to extract those stories from companies and to bring them into the light. Precisely that is our expertise as PR professionals. We invest in relations with both our clients as well as the media and we know how to pitch a story. Having done this for over twenty years allows us an even bigger edge in writing stories that media wish to publish.

IT and tech keep evolving
Marcommit’s origins lie in IT and tech. These are sectors that keep us engaged at all times and excite us daily. Both are unmissable and there’s a lot of knowledge present. But also inherent to these sectors – IT and tech professionals are endlessly engaged in what they do – is that they do not like to claim the stage. So our job is to give them the spotlights they deserve. Because we follow every move, we know what they talk about. That makes our job easier because we discover value for businesses and media fast. That’s how we realize our success. And that’s what we intend to do for many more years to come.

By Marianne van Barneveld, owner and strategic advisor of Marcommit

Communication –  new normal, new possibilities

Communication –  new normal, new possibilities

Is it appropriate to talk about positive experiences related to COVID and lockdown? Has the pandemic and several months of completely different life taught us anything? The answer to that is clear, but will the lesson we’ve learnt stay with us longer? Or maybe rather – what is worth keeping; how can we use the new opportunities in our industry? The world has changed – more rapidly than we could have predicted just a few months ago. And probably in a while, we will be back to normal, but it will be a new normal and new standards.

First of all – COVID has forced accelerated digitalization, which isn’t anything new because the technologies themselves have been around for a long time. However, for some reason we weren’t using them the way they deserved to be used. So we aren’t discovering any new lands, but rather going deeper into a previously discovered island because the coast is no longer enough for us. So, as communication specialists, which  should we pay particular attention to?

Online relationships

Our relationships have been transferred into the online-zone – meetings, chats, statements, interviews, conferences and press briefings… everything began to function exclusively on the internet. It also created additional potential for using statements of experts from different countries. As shown in the report made during the lockdown by the Polish Press Agency, journalists adjusted quickly and efficiently to the new reality. To everyone’s surprise, remote working turned out to be just as productive and fruitful as work in editorial offices. Additionally, more than half of the respondents admitted to having observed the following behaviours during the pandemic: greater availability of interlocutors through remote forms of communication (65%), being forced to react faster than before in creating and delivering articles or news (59%), taking on more work than before (57%). 68% of journalists admitted that the shift to remote forms of communication at work forced by the pandemic does not negatively affect the quality of their work. It is up to us how we use this new potential of building relations regardless of location.

Different kind of media

COVID has accelerated digital subscriptions and caused an increase in paid online content. Fewer and fewer readers visit newsstands and buy paper editions of newspapers and magazines, which caused publishers to face new challenges. Some of them decided to temporarily suspend traditional editions of publications, urging readers to use their online versions, which resulted in an exponential increase in digital subscriptions. What does this mean for communication? Paid content causes higher expectations of readers, which mobilizes publishers to create high-quality content and return to reliable, good journalism, and maybe even to stop the avalanche of fake news. The role of influencers has also been redefined. Those of them who based their relations only on empty words depicted by a beautiful picture got relegated to the background. The audience began to better appreciate reliable and truthful information – and may it remain that way for longer.

Media are looking for new business models and their place in the world of new, not yet fully defined communication. It is a signal for PR and marketing – now is the time for new ideas and unconventional solutions.

Internal communication

The remote work formula has been functioning in business for many years. Perhaps not on such a large scale, as in the pre-COVID era it was treated more as a privilege than a necessity, but there isn’t anything novel in the idea. However, building a team and conducting communication in the conditions of meeting limitations is a huge challenge, both for managers and employees. It requires other forms of management, possibly a different structure and certainly different skills and tools. While the relationships built in the past are still working at the moment, this capital will run out in a few months. New relationships with new team members will probably have to be built largely through virtual meetings. It requires a different approach to communication strategy, different choice of tools and certainly an expansion of their range. The belief that we will eventually go back to the previous model slowly ceases to be justified.


What does sales have to do with communication? A lot! We observe the acceleration of changing the way of selling. The sellers have stopped travelling to clients and meeting them face to face. It turns out that these departments can also be moved online, now at an even faster pace. Remote order taking, smooth distribution, online workshops and consultations, constant customer support via communicators or by phone, individual programs created for customers, online training in the form of video-conferences or webinars… all these tools have entered the canon of sellers and will certainly remain with us permanently, with no possibility of returning to the previous model. This is a new challenge for communication – preparing sales for different ways of entering the market, efficient use of social media, building personal brands, using a rich arsenal of tools.

These four areas will be important in terms of communication. There are undoubtedly more of them, such as new expectations of media recipients and readers, which results in the need to change the strategy of content preparation. All this means that communication needs to be rethought based on those new assumptions. And although we all know that personal contact with another person can’t be fully replaced by virtual contact, we can find new areas of development thanks to a good communication strategy.

Dorota Sapija, managing director, Omega Communication (