PR and Marketing teams have been thrust under the C-suite spotlight after a tough year cost-of-living increases, economic pressures and stalled growth in advertising spend – a scenario that we expect to continue into 2024.

As advertising activity slowly decreases, it’s time for PR and Marketing teams to prove their worth and alter their tactics to keep up with these changes and ensure their brand’s presence doesn’t suffer!

For Judith Ingleton-Beer, CEO at IBA International, it’s clear that creative PR and content marketing strategies are key to match the results of advertising with a smaller budget! Her answer is to maximise the content lifecycle, broaden horizons to other digital avenues, and keep an SEO eye on content.

As advertising spend growth in the UK slows to less than 1%, C-level leaders are beginning to rely more heavily on PR and Marketing teams than ever before. So, as PR and Marketing looks to make its case for a portion of advertising budgets – how can astute professionals prove their worth and demonstrate ROI?

Quality content keeps the lifecycle spinning

Almost two thirds of B2B buyers believe that corporate brand messaging is too vague to actively represent their brand and attract buyers. That means that placing quality, on-message content strategy performance will be under the spotlight.

B2B PR and Marketing professionals will need to extract new value for money and maximise the content lifecycle by telling creative stories, conducting research, and utilising SEO.

Creating quality content can open up an entire new avenue for media coverage, putting subject matter experts and company developments in as many targeted publications as possible, without breaking the bank!

Earned media takes the top spot!

Earning quality media placements is key to saving on sponsored content and advertising spend. Regardless of where spending is split between B2B PR and Marketing strategies, one thing is clear – making the most of earned media opportunities is essential.

Earned media, when combined with a trusted thought leader and quality content, can build significant trust and credibility – two components that are vital to the B2B sales funnel. It’s all about influencer marketing – not pay-for-play! As one door closes in editorial and advertising spend, another opens in earned media opportunities. Now more than ever, cost effective PR and Marketing strategies are top of the agenda, so B2B professionals can gain maximum brand exposure with minimum spend.

Remember, strong brand reputation can’t be bought, so use earned channels to your advantage! In today’s diverse media landscape, B2B PR and Marketing professionals are no longer limited to printed media – it’s all about digital publications, social media channels, and blogs providing the optimal platform to raise brand awareness and connect directly with target audiences. Not an advertising penny in sight!

Broaden your horizons – it’s not all about (digital) print

As 32% of tech marketers designate the highest portion of their budgets to social media marketing, it is important for B2B marketers to take an in-depth audit of their social content performance, and adjust strategies. But social media isn’t the be-all and end-all, digital platforms can include blogs, online publications, and video posting sites.

With HubSpot estimating that the number of digital video viewers will hit 3.5 billion in 2023 and people are watching, on average, 17 hours of online videos per week, it’s clear that audiences are more receptive to digital content. In fact, according to the same report, people are 52% more likely to share video content than any other type of content – which is why video content must play an integral role in the content lifecycle.

Video content marketing on earned channels is a good avenue for B2B organisations to grow brand awareness and trust without breaking the bank. As the popularity of short-form video content rises (thanks to the likes of TikTok and Instagram Reels), so has the quality of longer form content, and an increase in platforms where it can be hosted. YouTube channels and LinkedIn are just two examples where users can freely post interactive and visually engaging content such as webinars, and recorded Q&A’s, which are able to cater to exactly what a B2B organisation needs – at a fraction of the price of advertising!

Yes, video content marketing comes with an incredible amount of potential, but B2B PR and Marketing professionals shouldn’t ignore other tried-and-tested media formats such as podcasts, blog posts, infographics, and SEO that together can complete the perfect digital content stack!

An SEO roundoff to bring it all back home

Buyers still want to meet brands in spaces that are comfortable for them, but as expected, they increasingly want this to occur digitally, and organically – enter SEO. With a LinkedIn study reporting that search engines, social media platforms, and vendor websites make up the top three sources that B2B buyers look to for information – it’s safe to say that SEO is a necessity.

Investment in SEO provides vital building blocks to build brand awareness, credibility, and trust within key target audiences. As media outlets transition to most online platforms, take this opportunity to make use of SEO and backlinks to increase digital lead generation and brand awareness. B2B organisations should focus on creating high quality content, incorporating SEO-driven keywords, and backlinks to drive traffic back to their own sites.

A powerful content stack is vital

Making use of a powerful content stack strategy can illicit strong brand recall by incorporating a series of PR and Marketing assets around one campaign topic – from a thought leadership article, to a corresponding blog and white paper on the company website, to subsequent social media posting.

Campaigns must be planned strategically, incorporating multiple content stacks to create a blend of carefully curated messaging. B2B PR and Marketing professionals need to ensure that they can extract as many articles placed in as many target media outlets as possible, to consistently communicate the value of their solutions and service. This strategy ensures that prospects see key messages multiple times per week in the media. Then bring in those other elements of the content stack to hit prospects in the keyword searches, website visits, and social media browsing.

It’s all about bringing together quality, SEO-optimised content on multiple platforms to ensure optimal ROI.

Content marketing comes out on top

Following a wave of advertising spend cuts, PR and Marketing teams need to demonstrate ROI for their clients by perfecting their textbook tactics – think optimising content for SEO purposes, broadening content horizons to new platforms, and remembering the power of earned media!

It’s time to tap into tried-and-tested strategies without relying on big budgets.

Judith Ingleton-Beer

Judith Ingleton-Beer edited leading technology, management and business publications before heading up the newly established B2B communications group IBA, a division of Special Interest Publications.

Under her leadership IBA International has become renowned for the quality of its content creation, working for multi-national corporations as well as startups and scale-ups in every emerging B2B tech wave. IBA has been particularly successful in placing this thought leadership material in Tier One publications across international markets.