The Covid pandemic has increased the appetite for news and presented many with more leisure time to enjoy their favourite media. From a PR point of view, this should have resulted in a wealth of opportunity, but the reality has been a shifting media and PR landscape with several new challenges.
Here’s our run down of 9 changes to B2B tech PR that have arisen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and our suggestions of how to adapt to them.
Challenge 1: Less space for other news
Over the past 15 months, the column inches, both online and in print, have been saturated by Covid updates and analysis. Any all-consuming news story inevitably means there is less room for other content. This problem is compounded by editors increasingly taking the view that readers want the main story and don’t want to be paralysed by choice.
Solution: Make them take notice
Make sure you are taking a quality not quantity approach. Less available space means only the best content will get to see the light of day. And don't ever spam your media contacts! Personalised outreach with a smaller number of highly relevant pitches or releases will deliver a far better result.
Challenge 2: Some B2B tech publications have closed or downsized
Some publications have reported drops in their advertising revenue by as much as 50%. Many journalists have been made redundant and have gone freelance as a result. This changes the dynamic when pitching stories to regular contacts – even if journalists like story pitches, they then need to convince news editors, for whom every story represents an additional cost, to commission the story.
Solution: Change your pitch
Freelance journalists, working outside the media organisation, have to work harder to get their ideas in print. Make sure you present unique and newsworthy stories, with as much detail as possible; make it easy for freelancers to present a convincing case to their editors. Reduced staff on any publication may mean that as well as fewer journalists, there are likely fewer researchers, fact checkers, picture editors, sub-editors. Offer solutions, not problems, consider adding more to your story pitch including suggested interviewees, sources, interesting facts and figures, and perhaps suggested imagery.
Challenge 3: Plunging ad spend has left fewer editorial pages in print publications
The number of ads, not the number of story ideas, determines the final page count of a print publication. With falling ad revenue in some publications, fewer pages mean fewer opportunities to get your story published.
Solution: Don’t always pitch a long opinion piece idea
With reduced page counts these opportunities are increasingly hard to come by. Try to repackage ideas as short news pieces, Q&As, even just offer a comment on a topical industry issue.
Challenge 4: Journalists are harder to get hold of
Like all industries, the shift to home working means journalists are not working the traditional 9-5. They are also no longer linked to an office switchboard and unless you have developed close relationships in the past, having a contact book of journalists' home numbers is unlikely.
Solution: Nurture relationships
Don’t hide behind email and newswires, make it personal. When you do manage to get hold of a journalist, or meet them face-to-face, build a rapport, share your knowledge and expertise, make sure they are left in no doubt of your credentials and industry contacts.
Challenge 5: Journalists are all Zoomed out
The PR industry should be applauded for its innovation during the pandemic in swapping face-to-face meetings with videos, online masterclasses, virtual events and podcasts but sadly these aren’t the same as meeting in the flesh and over 12 months in the fatigue is starting to show.
Solution: Follow and adapt
Now that lockdown has been lifted it is time to start working on a strategy for a new kind of normal, a hybrid one. Follow your key journalists online and see if they are starting to venture out as they'll probably mention it. If they are, see if they want to meet for coffee, they might be delighted for some in person company after all those Zoom calls. You need to see what they are doing and adapt accordingly.
Challenge 6: Many companies are spending less on PR due to budget constraints
This makes it more important than ever to have robust measurement in place that demonstrates return on investment.
Solution: Ramp up your analytics
With increased competition to get your ideas published, this shift in the dynamic increases the value of even the smallest mention. Prove the value being delivered in ways that impact the company's online presence. Many publications will include a link in an opinion piece back to your website and you can track site visitors from that site using tools like Google Analytics. Think about tracking the following metrics:
- Inbound links included in your coverage
- Social shares of your opinion pieces and articles that you're included in
- Increase in web traffic coinciding with a recent press release
- ROI on published research - put it on a landing page and include the link in your press release
Challenge 7: Twitter has become more important as a way to engage with journalists
Whereas in the past journalists would call their contacts for case studies or ideas, they are increasingly using Twitter to gather materials with the commonly used hashtags #PRRequest and #Journorequest.
Solution: Use this to your advantage
Follow relevant industry hashtags on social media and follow the relevant pages of media organisations and key journalists. This will give you a good indication of what they are interested in and working on. Pitch to them via Twitter.
Challenge 8: The pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital
Solution: Don’t get left behind
Every member of your PR team should be gaining knowledge of the digital initiatives that media outlets are exploring such as videos, podcasts, polls and online Q&As.
Challenge 9: Trust is more important than ever
The RISJ recorded the lowest levels of trust in the news since it started to track this data with consumer trust falling by 12 points in the last year.
Solution: Check your facts and become a trusted source
Editors and journalists are increasingly only going to work with trusted sources. Make sure every opinion, idea, fact you present stacks up. If you're not sure of the source or validity, check! If you don't you'll be sure to get caught up by an eagle eyed journalist and you could end up damaging your credibility.
Read more: It's time to rethink how you measure the value of PR.
For a free initial consultation on how you should handle B2B tech PR in the new normal, please contact Sam Rudland at email@example.com.