9 Things to Know About the Future of Local News

I recently spoke to a group of business and community leaders about the future of local news. As a public relations professional, I’ve had a ringside seat on the ever-shrinking local news landscape. However, many leaders I’ve worked with in the private and public sectors tend to over-estimate how much scrutiny their bad or good news may attract, while others dismiss the need to actively participate in local media interview requests and reserve their time and energies for national opportunities or what they know will be a puff piece.

My goal was to help these leaders understand the trends shaping the local media landscape so that they could better reach their constituents and stakeholders through earned media as well as via alternate approaches, given local media’s shrinking influence.

Here are nine fast facts with tips for business and organization leaders:

1. The Future of Local News Is Subscriptions, Not Advertising

Print and digital circulation numbers for local newspapers have been consistently falling (from 13.9 million to 8.3 million between 2015 and 2020), but stabilized in 2020. The decline has reduced ad revenue, disrupting the old advertising-driven publishing model.

Another trend started in 2020. For the first time, circulation revenue from subscriptions drove more revenue than both print and digital ad revenue for local print publications and their digital assets. That’s a commentary on how far ad revenue has fallen. And it’s why you’ve been seeing more online publications behind paywalls, as digital subscriptions are often called.

TIP: The Free Press is Worth Paying For.

→ Your organization’s news needs to be interesting enough for people to pay for. Focus on what’s in it for the reader or viewer. How are you helping serve the interests of local news consumers vs. the needs of your organization?

2. Future of Local News Will Serve the Informed Public

Fewer and fewer people are consuming local news across all sources. Only about one in three U.S. adults even follows local news at all.

For journalists and public relations agencies like (W)right On Communications, credibility and reach with the informed public (the one in three people paying attention) are still vital. If you’re a local news subscriber, then consider yourself a member of the informed public.

As someone who is more engaged in your community than most of your neighbors, you’re an important target of our communications and news reporting. You’re more likely to vote (hopefully), show up at city hall, trial or recommend new products and places and understand how your daily behaviors impact your environment.

As subscriptions become the backbone of the local news business, leaders can use earned media to target the most informed and engage constituents in their local markets.

TIP: Reach the Disengaged through Entertainment + Enchantment

→ If you can’t reach people with facts and information, entertain with emotion and be memorable with story. Find and share what makes your story moving and provide local media with assets (b-roll, photos, characters and heroes) to bring it to life.

3. The Future of Local News is Digital with Limited Reach

One of the steadfast rules of marketing is meeting your audience where they are. Current data suggests 84% of U.S. adults get their information from their digital device like smartphone, computer or tablet. Half do so often.

News websites and news apps were cited by two-thirds of adults. But 25% of people still rarely or never use such sources. This 25% also don’t use search engines or frankly any other digital source. They may be getting their information from social media, which recent studies have shown misinforms: people who relied on social media for their news were less engaged and less knowledgeable.

During the pandemic, this was a real problem. A very large number of people had no idea what was going on. You’d find people not wearing masks because they had no idea that there was a mask mandate and later had no idea when it had been lifted. Even when their family’s health and life are on the line, they’re not tuning in to the news of the day via any platform.

TIP: Share Your Coverage on Social and Boost

→ When you’ve got a news story you want everyone to see or read, share it on social and boost it with a small investment to the audience you might have missed.

4. The Future of Local News On Social is YouTube

Social media as a news source shrank a bit this past year. It’s still the third most used platform for news, cited by 48% of people as a frequent news source. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were the three most popular networks for news.

For leaders considering reaching constituents and stakeholders with their news via social media, YouTube is a platform deserving of a second look. YouTube users stream news about subjects they’re interested in as they ‘cut the cord’ from their cable providers. As the second largest search engine (and owned by Google), YouTube provides “news” on an endless breadth of subjects on demand — from foreign language to gamer news to regular streaming newscasts and segments. Local TV news stations have their own YouTube stations.

TIP: Consider Producing Your Own YouTube News Content.

→ Seeing is believing and YouTube allows for longer format reporting that can be teased or promoted on other social apps like Instagram and Facebook Stories, Twitter, Snapchat or TikTok.

5. The Future of Local News is Podcasting

The percentage of people who get their news from podcasts is growing every so slightly every year. While a few people say that they never listen to podcasts, what’s noteworthy about those who do listen is that they skew younger. Sixty-two percent of 18 to 49-year-olds report listening to podcasts for news sometimes or often. And rates are also higher among more educated and affluent listeners.

Leaders need to make time for podcast interviews to reach younger, more education and affluent members of the informed public. Podcasts are a great channel to reach these important audiences.

TIP: Embrace Podcasts to Reach Younger, Affluent Audiences

→ Not only are podcast audiences growing, but podcast interviews have been discoverable on Google since 2019 and, unlike radio interviews, can have a reach that grows over time.

6. The Future of Local News Is Nonprofit

As local journalism gets vastly outspent by Big Tech, ad revenue shrinks and the size of the uninformed public grows, is it any wonder that a dozen new nonprofit newsrooms launch every year?

Nonprofit models remove the profit imperative and allow newsrooms to be funded through grants, donations and subscriptions or memberships. Some great reporting is coming out of nonprofit newsrooms.

Individual citizens can support local nonprofit news organizations through monthly contributions that are no more than a monthly subscription may run. Your local PBS affiliate has relied on donor support for decades.

TIP: Support a Nonprofit Local News Organization

→ Get involved as a donor or board member to help local nonprofit newsrooms flourish.

7. The Future of Local News is Greater Privacy Protections

Another major shift that’s just starting to be felt is Apple’s new privacy protections. When you’re online on IOS devices, Apple no longer allows advertisers to embed cookies and use their website pixels to track your behaviors and market their goods to you.

This has had an immediate and very significant impact on Facebook’s fortunes. Facebook took a $10 billion revenue hit as digital advertisers scaled back. It’s a positive development to me as a communicator because digital marketing had become so transactional. It’s a reminder to leaders not to focus on click-through rates at the expense of relationship and trust building.

TIP: Build Trust Through PR to Support Digital Transactions

→ Build trust and credibility through strategic communications before you ask for the sale. That’s the secret to higher closing rates. And your consumers are looking for trust and credibility signals before they buy.

8. The Future of Local News is User Generated

Technically, anyone with a camera-equipped smart phone is “the media” as well as anyone with an audience is “the media.” Influencers and eyewitness videos can shape opinions and drive awareness just as powerfully as a mainstream, top tier local media outlet.

Newsroom cutbacks mean journalists are more likely assigned to multiple beats and assignments every day. So, leaders cannot expect them to come into interviews with much knowledge or understanding and, therefore, must work hard to bring them up to speed so that they can accurately report on their news.

The right influencer or content creator with a niche following and deep familiarity and passion for your topic may move the needle with the people that matter more than highly respected and accomplished media outlets or journalists.

TIP: Find Niche Content Creators to Reach New Audiences

→ Find the right influencer or content creator to reach niche audiences with your messages. But be ready to pay for that content and access while also giving them control over how your story is packaged.

9. The Future of Local News is Building Trust

Released in January at Davos every year for the past 22 years, the Edelman Trust Barometer tracks trust in business, government, media and NGOs. This year’s theme was “A Cycle of Distrust” which the authors say was fueled by the government and media industries.

Democracy is built on trust. As government leaders vie for votes and media outlets vie for clicks and viewers, the public is left feeling anxious. They’re looking to NGOs and businesses to take the lead on societal issues. Like Apple did on privacy or like Nordstrom, Sephora and Macy’s did with the 15 Percent Pledge to make 15% of their retail shelf space available to black-owned brands. Other examples include the businesses that exited Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and Ernst and Young’s R U OK program to help employees with mental health and addiction issues.

At the World Economic Forum, the new rallying cry in response to this cycle of distrust has become an emphasis on a new model of Stakeholder Capitalism to replace decades of Shareholder Capitalism. Under the old model, the company was put at the center, and everything served the business. It was a profit-centered model. The new model puts the wellbeing of people and planet at the center of a business.

TIP: Restoring Trust Starts Locally.

→ From local news to city council to school boards, focus on restoring trust and respect in your backyard. A healthy local news media supports an informed and engaged public and a sense that we can trust our leaders to conduct themselves in the public’s best interests. 

→ Read my Q&A with Lynn Walsh of the Trusting News project to learn how the media is working to restore trust through more transparent reporting practices.

So, What Can You Do to Support Local Journalism and Break the Cycle of Distrust?

Subscribe to and support local news and nonprofit news. Encourage subscriptions amongst your coworkers, friends and family.

Professionally, take a more relational and less transactional approach to your communications. That means you start first with listening and understanding your stakeholders and their needs. Whether you’re reaching the informed public through the media or sharing your story through other means such as your website, email newsletter, social media, speaking opportunities, events or video, demonstrate empathy and frame and share stories in a way that matters to your stakeholders.

Most important, as a leader, make sure that your organization delivers on the expectations you set in your communications. That’s foundational to building trust.

Be realistic in the expectations you set. Be consistent in your communications and messages you deliver. Therefore, when things go wrong, your track record of empathy, transparency and consistency gives your brand or organization the best chance of an understanding and patient response from employees, customers, investors, donors and, of course, the media.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Wright is President of (W)right On Communications, Inc., the award-winning integrated strategic communications firm she founded in 1998. With offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C., her team handles complex communications challenges for B2B tech, cleantech and energy, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, not-for-profit and public sector organizations. Wright and her team elevate the agency experience through data-driven insights and measurable results for client partners.

Cleantech Public Relations Tips

Cleantech public relations graphic design sample

We count ourselves lucky to support climate and energy innovators with cleantech public relations. These sustainability superheroes are difference makers changing our world for the better, but no matter how ground-breaking their solutions, it doesn’t mean anything if their target customer doesn’t know about them or the industry doesn’t understand what they’ve achieved.  

Here are some tips to ensure a successful cleantech public relations program. 

 

1. Understand how you fit in the marketplace.  

Sustainability solutions are coming to market fast, thankfully, but it means that at the top of a cleantech company’s to-do-list is being perfectly clear about your position in the broader space.  

Too often, I see a new cleantech company overestimating its standing and importance. It’s understandable when you’re launching a big new idea or game-changing tech. But only one in every thousand start-ups may end up being the next Tesla. So, for the vast majority of new companies, differentiating yourself and communicating your value proposition are crucial right out of the gate.  

This means you must think broadly about who your real competitors are. You’re competing against more alternatives than you may realize. Take Uber, for example. It’s easy to think of Uber’s competitors as just Lyft and taxi services. But even as Uber was spearheading the ride-sharing wave, it had to compete against taxis, walking, biking, or just driving yourself.  

If you’re creating a category and trying to teach your B2B or B2C target customers to adopt a new, more sustainable practice or behavior or spend money to save money and greenhouse gasses, you need to start at the 50,000-foot view before you focus your messaging on your brand and its specific value and contributions.  

2. Build a strong platform before you launch.  

After you’ve fully plotted your place in the market and how to position yourself against all of the alternatives, it’s time to carve out your niche.  

World domination is a lofty goal right out the gate, so before you set your sights on being the President of the United States, make sure you’ve got the platform in place. Assess your strengths so your messaging can amplify them and address your weaknesses to mitigate them before turning your attention outward and inviting the world’s attention.  

Is your core technology the best it can be? If so, what are the barriers to adoption? Do you have partners lined up who send clear credibility signals? Is there white paper content or published research that validates you’re proposing more than just greenwashing?  

Is a content strategy in place so that you have a clear search engine position for the solution you want to be known for? Is your social media engagement building some momentum and community around your ideas and your technology to demonstrate that people care?  

 

3. Don’t be the one to change the world.  

Every new cleantech company seems to emerge on the scene with grandiose claims of revolutionizing the way the world does things. It’s wiser to let your portfolio speak for itself. 

The goal here is to under-promise and over-deliver. This is an industry with a lot of noise and skepticism is rife.  

For instance, say you’re introducing a new home-heating system that uses renewable energy and decreases heating costs by 5%. Will you market on the fact that your tech will change how homes are heated forever, that it’s 5% cheaper or some combination of both?  

When your cleantech public relations strategy leads with the cost-savings message and provides your green cred for context, your brand will more likely stay afloat and avoid drowning in the sea of hyperbole in this industry.  

In other words, your sustainable business model is as essential to your cleantech public relations program as your environmental impact. 

 

4. Adapt your story for different media audiences.  

Be prepared for your media interviews. At some point in your company’s evolution, and if you’re fortunate enough, you’ll be sitting down with many different journalists.  

Be aware of who you’re speaking with and the audience they represent so that you can adapt your responses. You wouldn’t speak on the intricacies of your thermal engineering operation with a Buzzfeed reporter, and you don’t want to insult a seasoned tech reporter’s intelligence.  

Revisit our best media training tips. A good understanding of your interviewer’s credentials and a well-developed plan of action for your interview will help you effectively communicate no matter who sits in the other seat. 

If your solution is complex or technical, we recommend you also start all of your interviews by asking the reporter what they already know about your area of expertise. That way, you can provide an overview of the environmental issue your solution addresses before you get into its nuts and bolts. You’d be surprised sometimes how little a reporter might know, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be talking over their head and then be unhappy with the published result.  

You might be tired of repeating the same datapoints or explanations and feel like it’s old news.  But you’ve got to assess your audience’s knowledge and interest and then meet them where they’re at. Asking those probing questions first – or having your cleantech public relations agency do it for you as part of your pre-interview briefing – is always a sound practice! 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Wright is President of (W)right On Communications, Inc., the award-winning integrated strategic communications firm she founded in 1998. With offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C., her team handles complex communications challenges for B2B tech, cleantech and energy, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, not-for-profit and public sector organizations. Wright and her team elevate the agency experience through data-driven insights and measurable results for client partners.

Three Surprising B2B PR Tips to Secure Media Attention

By Chancelor Shay —Director, B2B & Infrastructure Development
Twitter: @chanceshay

If you’re not on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence-controlled robotics or have the fastest supercomputer in the world, it’s probably hard to get journalists and media outlets charged up to talk about your B2B brand. Brands that struggle with this typically fall into the trap of believing every editor is interested in their niche position in the B2B world and talk (or type) ad nauseam about what it is they do.

Nobody cares.

Even if it’s a trade publication and the writer covers your vertical, they still don’t care.

What they do care about is writing cool stories their readers will dig and doing their job well. Your PR success depends on your ability to help them achieve that goal.

Here are three counterintuitive steps to secure more coverage while wasting less time.

The best stories aren’t about your brand

Most media outlets don’t like to dedicate an entire piece to one vendor. They’re job is to tell stories that will be as interesting as possible to the greatest number of readers. Unless your brand is already a household name, this means that the most impactful story pitch will tell your customer’s story. The outlet’s readers can relate to your customer because they are just like them. A story about how your customer did something awesome (and how you played a role in it) stands a better chance at being picked up than raving about how innovative your product/service is or its features and benefits.

Don’t talk about your product/service

If you’re proud or excited about what your company does, go tell your mother. If a journalist was already interested in your brand, they’d already have reached out to you instead of being on the receiving end of your pitch. Instead, develop a pitch to address what your customers (a.k.a. the outlet’s readers) are dealing with. Speak in terms of their pain points. The odds are that that your company isn’t nearly as cool as the ecosystem in which you operate. So, bring in as many different perspectives and folds to the story as you can so that the reporter or writer can envision an engaging story with a story arc that shares real-world challenges and not just free publicity for your brand.

Be the oil can, not a squeaky wheel

Any PR pro will tell you that if you ask 10 different journalists how they like to be pitched, you’ll get 10 different answers. However, one thing is for sure – PR pros’ jobs are to make the journalist’s job easier. This means helping the journalist write about something they’re interested in covering rather than trying to convince them that they should write about something interesting to your brand. Do you want to be the kid crying on the playground for attention or do you want to be the kid who brought the Pokémon cards to recess? When you approach pitching the media from a service mindset and ask yourself, “how can what I or my client know help them reach their goals” (see tip #1), you’ll become a resource to reporters. You’ll have to start by reaching out to the writer and in two sentences summarizing their recent coverage and writing style (to validate you know who they are and what they do) and then offer up a C-Suite executive in your company who has a reputation and can help the writer make sense of topics they’re interested in. After they use your spokesperson for the first time, then you can start pitching them your own story ideas.

If you think you’re ready for the big leagues, check out our post on How to Earn Media Coverage in Major News Outlets.

SUBSCRIBE: Get our quick, timely communications ideas and insights each month.

(W)right On Communications won a Silver Bulldog Award for Best B2B Product Launch for our work on this campaign. Read the full case study written by the Bulldog Reporter for in-depth tips.

(W)right On Communications Best of 2017! #GSD

By Julie Wright —President
Twitter: @juliewright


I’m excited to see what 2018 holds for (W)right On Communications, but when I look back on 2017, I’m awed by all that our growing agency achieved! As we like to say here, we GSD–got “stuff” done! But more than that, we made stuff happen, and that’s how we measure success. Here’s a quick glimpse at the events that made a difference in 2017 from where I sit.

Epic Team Outing to Kick Off the Year

JANUARY: We started 2017 off on the right foot with a trip to Universal Studios to bring our hard-working team together for a fun outing. There was just one little challenge: the torrential rain. Talk about team building. Wearing our ponchos like super heroes, we braved the storm and had a blast. The day left us soaked with memories.

In January, we also celebrated Chance Shay’s promotion to Practice Area Director overseeing the agency’s dedicated B2B & Technology Public Relations practice and Land Development PR & Community Outreach practice. With eight years of strategic communications experience, Chance continues to make significant contributions to (W)right On Communications and 2017 was no exception.

Talking PR Measurement in Miami

FEBRUARY: PR measurement was something we continued to invest in throughout 2017. Attending the Ragan PR Measurement Conference in Miami Feb. 1-2 allowed me to hear from industry veterans, academics and PR leaders from MuckRack, Google, IBM and Spirit Airlines–to name just a few of the great speakers.

Ragan’s 2018 PR Measurement Conference is in San Diego Feb. 20 and 21. If you’re interested in staying on top of the latest in PR measurement trends, tech and best practices, it’s not too late to register here.

Launched “Thoughtful Thursdays”—WOC’s Internal Professional Development Series

MARCH: We launched our “Thoughtful Thursdays” in March. These were one-hour professional development workshops that brought our team together (in-person and via our web-conferencing tech) to learn the latest in PR measurement, media interviewing, social media advertising, integrated strategic campaigns, leading effective meetings and more. Sessions were led by Chance Shay, Kara DeMent and me. I really enjoyed these mornings and now look forward to our 2018 series.

Adding Media Integration Services

APRIL: We added media integration services to our agency public relations services. Unlike traditional publicity, media integration opportunities are paid, not earned, opportunities. They can feature your product or service as part of a national, regional or local news or lifestyle program and will often include a lead generation component. Media integration works extremely well for products that are experiential like a resort or destination, and our hospitality public relations practice and its client partners have made good use of media integration since the service launched.

Opening WOC’s Downtown L.A. Office

MAY: We took a space on the 35th floor of the Gas Tower in the Banker’s Hill area of downtown Los Angeles. Our convenient base in L.A. makes it easier for the team to meet with clients and media plus opens the door to new relationships. Personally, I love my Pacific Surfliner trips up and down the Southern California coast plus exploring all that downtown L.A. offers like the sights and flavors of Grand Central Market.

Taking the PR Measurement Conversation Global

JUNE: Grant and I traveled to Bangkok to attend the AMEC Global Summit on Measurement and annual awards dinner. The conference attracted communicators, media researchers and evaluation experts from across Europe and Southeast Asia. One of the highlights for me was meeting Professor Jim Macnamara in person. Somehow, I had the good fortune to sit next to him throughout the two-day conference. As the author of all the textbooks I studied on PR measurement, I was thrilled to meet him in person and hear about his latest projects firsthand.

A New WOC Strategist as Sweet as She is Swedish

JULY: Sandra Wellhausen joined our team this summer, and it felt like we’d found the missing bolt in an Ikea Billy bookcase box!

Nothing Eclipsed August

AUGUST: Pardon the pun, but a lot of effort went into seeing this major solar event. Being able to enjoy it with friends and family was the result of a great team supporting our (W)right On client partners and operations.

Peak Mindfulness

SEPTEMBER: It was a month of mindfulness for WOC with everyone at the agency focused on major client projects from a video for the City of San Diego’s energy efficiency programs to the grand opening of the University of Redlands’ new San Diego campus. Speaking of universities, our friends at the College of Business Administration at CSUSM had Grant and I in to speak to students during their “In the Executive’s Chair” class. But peak mindfulness (you’re expecting puns, now, I hope?) occurred as Shae Geary and I attended the Yosemite Wellness Retreat Weekend hosted by client partner Tenaya Lodge. We hiked Sentinel Dome stopping for yoga as we started off and once we summited. It was out of this world. Check out the link for their 2018 wellness weekend dates!

Are You Guys Dressing Up for Halloween? Of Course.

OCTOBER: It was another fun Halloween at (W)right On’s San Diego office.

Keeping the Creative Visual Communications Flowing

NOVEMBER: We were grateful that KeAsha Rogers joined our team bringing her graphic and digital design skills and passion to benefit our client partners. She had to hit the ground running as we were full-tilt in a sprint ourselves to launch a rebrand for one of our nonprofit client partners. (KeAsha, 16-hour days aren’t the norm—we swear!)

Making a Difference for a Major Nonprofit Client Partner

DECEMBER: December was the debut of Radiant Health Centers, a rebrand for AIDS Services Foundation Orange County which had been providing HIV testing, prevention and education services and comprehensive social services for 32 years. The nonprofit’s leadership saw the need to offer broader services to Orange County’s most vulnerable LGBT community members. Their launch event was a rousing success, and it was a proud moment for the entire (W)right On team. We have had the good fortune of helping many nonprofit clients over the years, but the courage and vision of Radiant Health Centers’ leadership and supporters have really touched and inspired us.

Not to be overlooked, we celebrated Kara DeMent’s promotion from Communications Coordinator to Communications Strategist in December.

What’s in Store for 2018?

We have so much planned for this year, but at (W)right On Communications, we like to take stock of our achievements and not gloss over the high points we hit in 2017.

2018 will mark a very significant milestone in the agency’s history. And to celebrate it, we’re working on exciting plans that will continue our growth, our ability to produce wins for our client partners and opportunities for our team members to grow and achieve. Stay tuned!

 

B2B Integrated Marketing: 5 Step Foolproof Guide

B2B Integrated Marketing

By Chance Shay Director of B2B and Infrastructure Development

Twitter: @ChanceShay 


Marketing communications in silos doesn’t work. If your PR efforts aren’t aligned with your content marketing and your digital marketing is on a different frequency, you’re setting yourself up for a not-so-fun conversation with your CMO. In a time when the average attention span is eight seconds and where humans are producing the same amount of data in two days as was generated in all of human existence leading up to 2003, it’s easy to see why each individual marcomm channel is less effective in isolation.

But with a challenge comes an opportunity. By syncing up all of their efforts, marketers are able to make the overall impact of marcomm efforts far greater than their individual sums. This is integrated marketing.

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is the only marketing strategy that is effective in 2017. It optimizes the communication of a consistent message from a brand to stakeholders by integrating communication channels and harnessing the benefits of each channel, which amplifies their impact beyond what they could achieve individually.

The entertainment industry has done this for years. At Comic Con, you’ll see the same message about a new movie being promoted on advertisements (paid), conveyed during interviews and editorial stories (earned), used on social media (shared) and said during the panel discussion with the movie’s stars (owned).

B2B brands have to take this same approach, but with a few key changes. To help, we’ve put together a foolproof, five-step guide to help any B2B brand nail its integrated marketing plan.

1) Define the business objective

An obvious first step, but it’s essential that the integrated marketing flow from the brand’s overall business objective. Whether stealing market share or creating a new category, the brand’s big picture goal will drive everything from strategy to KPIs and execution.

2) Know thy audience

More than just understanding the type of business that’s a good fit for your service or product (i.e. a SMB in cleantech with $10-25 million in revenue), a brand must have a rich, granular picture of who is most likely to purchase their product and why. The “why” is important for establishing and framing the unique selling proposition for any good or service, but the “who” is the most important for structuring your IMC plan. Is your customer likely to be innovative or more risk adverse? What’s important to your customer in how they operate their business and the culture they create internally? Is a top tier trade outlet or a general news daily with huge name cachet more influential to them? For example, if the decision makers for your prospective customers are millennials, you’ll want to know they are 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites than older generations. That impacts strategy in a meaningful way, so get as holistic a view of your audience(s) as possible.

3) Set SMART communications goals that support the business objective

Like with most sound strategies, for IMC planning you must start with the end goal and work backward to develop a plan for how to get there. What is it – in a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time dimensioned way – that you’re wanting the plan to achieve. Is it to drive a 20 percent increase in free trial sign-ups? Is it to grow website traffic for key landing pages by 30 percent? At the end of the day, for B2B brands it all boils down to driving revenue. The marcomm component is meant to move new business prospects down the marketing funnel from being brand aware to being brand loyal. Setting SMART goals and KPIs for your integrated efforts will help ensure you’re on the right track.

4) Select your weapons of choice

Not all platforms and mediums are right for every brand. In some industries, trade shows have a higher demonstrated ROI than weekly vlogs on YouTube. For others, the best way to reach decision makers is on LinkedIn and not through content marketing. The first question to ask when determining where to focus marcomm resources is, “Where are my customers spending their time and how are they influenced?” Almost as important is asking yourself, “What channels allow me to showcase my brand’s strengths?” If your brand offers something innovative but a bit dense and niche, then Instagram as a platform would be challenging to generate traction. Instead, speaking opportunities at conferences where you (or your CMO) have more time to explain nuances would be more impactful.

Remember, you have all the PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned) channels at your disposal.

For Paid, consider if your audience is actively looking for your solution or if you have to be proactive in helping them realize they need your product or service. When thinking of earned coverage, would contributed by-lined articles support your communications goals or would an analyst evaluation be better? On Shared channels, selecting the platform must flow from determining the strategy for how social media will help reach the communications goal – whether by creating a community, showcasing thought leadership, engaging in the digital conversations prospective customers are having or otherwise.

Part of how IMC for B2B brands is different than for consumer brands is how owned content is leveraged. Owned content should be valuable to your customers and your customers’ customers. Your customers want to know you “get them,” but they also appreciate content that reinforces their value. The ROI is clear when you consider that B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. If your content is targeted, that increase in traffic means an increase in leads. Of course, that’s just one data set, but wouldn’t you like 300% of the traffic you’re getting now?

5) Use an umbrella to make it rain

Traditionally, an umbrella blocks the rain from hitting you. But for B2B brands, you need an umbrella that covers all of your IMC to bring in new business and make it rain. The umbrella, of course, is an overarching theme or idea that ties all of your marcomm efforts together. It could be owning a position or using some fun, quirky euphemism to convey the unique selling proposition of your product or reinforce a brand identity. This doesn’t mean that all efforts across all platforms need to look exactly the same. In fact, solid marcomm utilizes the most impactful features of each platform, but the umbrella campaign theme or concept keeps everything cohesive and consistent. When deciding an umbrella theme, think big picture about how it would translate across each of your decided platforms and whether it syncs with your strategy for how you intend to utilize each channel.

With audiences diversifying and a fragmented media landscape, there are no silver bullets for achieving communications goals. To be effective in moving the bottom line needle, communications – from advertising to PR, from social media to content marketing – need to be intentional in both strategy and timing. Check out a few ideas here, then follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to crushing the IMC plan and impressing your CMO.

Influencing the C-Suite: 3 Tips for B2B Influencer Marketing

By Aisha Belagam

Twitter: @AishaBelaPR


Fashion bloggers jet setting to tropical destinations wearing the trendiest floral prints. Genetically blessed Instagram influencers promoting weight loss pills after an early morning session at Equinox. From selfies to flat-lays, these are the types of personalities and formats that typically come to mind when you hear the term ‘influencer’. But these personalities won’t do much for your B2B marketing strategy.

American Idol business jennifer lopez american idol american idol xiii GIFAs with B2C, B2B influencer marketing is about connecting with influential people in your community and leveraging them to build trust and credibility, driving your message. In this digital age, where social media is becoming a regular part of everyone’s lives, influencer marketing is becoming a vital part of the communications strategy. And yes, you can and should use it for B2B companies. The C-Suite is engaged on social media and 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions. Here are three tips to consider when developing your B2B influencer marketing strategy:

1. Where are they and who do they look to?

Who and what influences your target audience? Don’t get deflected by focusing on who has the most followers. A million followers do not necessarily equate to a huge influence on your target audience. This isn’t a popularity contest. Plus, upcoming thought leaders are more likely to have the capacity to pay attention to your brand. Focus on influencers who receive a large amount of engagement on topics relevant to your vertical. These are the thought leaders you’re looking for. The analysts, industry experts, authors, speakers, and media folk who are actively involved in industry discussions, leading the way with their expert insight and educated opinions. You’ll find most of them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

       2. Look within

Who understands your brand better than your team? No one. That’s why you should leverage the CEO, employees, and clients as part of your strategy.

Employee advocacy is a powerful thing. Encourage your employees to promote your brand, whether it’s through social posts and blogs, at speaking opportunities, or by getting involved at industry events. Empower those with the most knowledge, the ones who work on your brand daily, to become the thought leaders opining and engaging, increasing your brand’s visibility.

C-level executives are an integral way for B2B brands to make a personal connection. They are the thought leaders bringing the brand to life. Using C-level executives is a key way to build relationships with analysts and the media, increasing coverage and establishing credibility.

Share results. Success stories from your customers can be packaged into consumable case studies, infographics, and testimonials. It’s great to have your team promoting your brand, but there is an obvious bias. Your customers, on the other hand, don’t have the same stake in your company and their experiences add a layer of authenticity.

      3.  Don’t just promote your own agenda

Build a real relationship with your influencers so they are engaged before you need them. It’s a two-way street. Think about how you can help them while promoting your brand. Reference them as experts, quote them in your blog posts, give them access to your products or services, engage with their social content, and stay top of mind. When the time comes, they will be more familiar with you and more likely to go the extra mile to help your brand.Empire FOX music love happy best GIF

Influencers can help a B2B brand through numerous channels. Think about your goals and identify what your brand needs. Influencers can do everything from collaborating on social content to hosting a webinar, from being an ambassador at your tradeshow to quoting you in their latest interview.

As interest in traditional forms of advertising plummets, influencer marketing is becoming a more important part of the integrated strategy. Collaborating with influencers in the ways outlined above can help your brand become more influential in itself.

Want to learn how your brand can leverage influencer marketing? Drop us a line. With proven influencer marketing results with national brands in both the B2B and B2C sector, we can work with you to develop and implement an integrated strategy that brings your brand targeted, measurable results.