2016 was a far from average year for the media—and PR pros felt the impact. As newsrooms continue to work under shrinking budgets and increasing pressure to publish more content across a variety of formats, brands are challenged to shift and align their media and communications strategy.
To help B2B companies plan for 2017, execs at public relations and social media firm Affect offered their predictions of hot industry trends for 2017.
Content Marketing Becomes Content Creation for Coverage. With the shrinking of newsrooms—everyone from the New York Times to small niche publications—there just aren’t as many reporters as there used to be. According to the American Society of News Editors’ (ASNE) annual census, since 2007 there has been a nearly steady decline in the number of newsroom employees. In 2007, there were 55,000 newsroom employees and the latest census in 2015 accounted for only 32,900—a 40% decrease in less than a decade. “There just aren’t enough reporters to write about the companies that we are pitching. We are seeing more and more contributed content penned by corporate executives, PR professionals or industry experts in order to supplement the lack of journalists on staff. This isn’t about a new business model in journalism but rather a resource problem that is requiring companies to write their own stories and have them approved for publication alongside the content written by the editorial staff,” said Affect president Sandra Fathi, in a news release.
Decline of Social Media Importance for Non-Consumer Businesses.Affect predicts diminishing interest and diminishing returns for B2B businesses on social media, as the landscape is further fragmented. “There are the staples—much like a company website—where you have to have a digital presence. These include LinkedIn and Twitter for business and Facebook for employee and community relations, however many businesses are pulling back from Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and other sites if they are not targeting consumers. These platforms have increased in popularity but the desire to focus on measuring ROI has led many businesses to rethink their strategies. Although their target audiences may be utilizing these platforms, they don’t necessarily want to be interrupted with business conversations—it’s the modern day equivalent of the cold-caller interrupting dinnertime. These sites are used primarily for entertainment, communication with friends and family and news gathering. If a business doesn’t fit into that model, it will be extremely hard to succeed on these platforms,” added Fathi.
Video is No Longer Optional. According to a recent Microsoft study, the human attention span is now only 8 seconds—that’s actually shorter than a goldfish. “Research also shows that the majority of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video, and nearly 60% of B2B audiences prefer to watch videos instead of reading text, and the trend is pretty clear—video is going to become an increasingly important content format for PR and marketing in 2017. In order to really grab their audience’s attention and keep it, marketers will look to use videos as a powerful storytelling medium, infusing them with emotion, humor, and strong narrative arcs that compel their audience to take action,” said SVP and healthcare practice leader Melissa Baratta, in the release.
Sponsored Content Earns a Critical Place in B2B PR Strategies. In 2017, PR professionals and marketers will need to redefine the balance between earned and paid placements as part of their overall communications strategy. “While B2B companies have traditionally placed emphasis on earned media, it will become increasingly difficult for many companies to secure consistent, high-profile coverage as publications continue to consolidate and newsrooms shrink. Paid opportunities by way of sponsored or native articles, opinion pieces and multimedia content will guarantee coverage in sought-after media outlets and ensure a company’s messages reach wider audiences,” said firm VP Brittany Bevacqua, according to the release.
Shortening News Cycle Makes Pitching More Complicated. Journalists are expected to churn out multiple articles every day. In fact, the Washington Post alone publishes upwards of 1,200 stories, graphics and visualsevery single day, with the editorial staff responsible for at least 500 of those stories. “This shortening news cycle and high-volume style of journalism will pose a challenge to PR pros in 2017—as reporters are also inundated with ideas and sources while up against multiple, tight deadlines every day. Savvy PR pros will learn to move more quickly—leaning heavily on Story Hijacking and Trend Intervention—to provide reporters with critical quotes and sound bites from qualified sources as fast as news breaks. When it comes to rapid response, the cream rises to the top—brands will build strong relationships with reporters only if they consistently provide meaningful commentary, data and opinion,” said SVP Katie Creaser, in the release.
Source: Affect; edited by Richard Carufel