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PR and marcomms at the heart of business change: Guidance from a voice worth listening to

While the rest of the world has been shaken by a global pandemic, PR and marketing professionals found themselves front and centre of the global businesses stage as businesses sought to become more agile and take advantage of opportunities. Their seat at the table of core business decision ‘Chiefs’ is becoming more essential than ever, argues Jamie Kightley, Head of Client Services, IBA International. He explains that by making use of advanced data analytics and some tools of the trade, PR and Marketing pros alike will keep that seat at the C-suite table firmly grounded.

It’s been a ground changing couple of years for the C-suite. Are they more dependent on the strategic guidance from PR and marketing professionals than ever before? Has PR’s value extended beyond just informing the sales pipeline? Well 85% of PR pros report that the C-suite is relying on them for strategic counsel.

Good Covid-Comms was essential during the pandemic and fell into the lap of marketing and PR professionals alike. The manner in which businesses responded will have a lasting legacy on how that organization is perceived – research from IAB UK and YouGov shows that 80% of UK respondents are less likely to purchase from a company that had been insensitive during the crisis, with another 35% of respondents stating that they now pay more attention as to how companies behave. And it is has been the job of communications teams alike to keep organization’s reputations intact throughout this crisis.

The customer is king and CX needed a COVID makeover

But its not just PR and comms pros that are experiencing the surge in demand, CIOs also have a newfound ‘weight on their shoulders’ through an overnight growth in responsibilities and required agility in the US well over 90% of CIOs are now working closely with their CMO to improve the customer experience (CX) and promote innovation.

PR and marcomms prove their flexibility – virtual events are sticking around

PR stands for Public Relations – and that means many different publics, from employees, to investors, to customers, to prospects, to the media, to analysts. PR showed itself to be among the most agile of sectors when initially adapting to new ways of working. Marketing communications were used to help and inform internal staff, keep morale high and ensure everyone knew the company was coping with the challenges, whether through furloughs or shorter weeks.

But PR and marketing also stepped up to the customer plate to create digital events such as product launches, thought leadership summits or topical webinar series. The digital trend has proved particularly popular, and 71% of marketers believe virtual events are here to stay, throughout 2021 and beyond. And let’s not forget the media’s role in all this - all essential audiences to communicate ‘business as usual’ during difficult times, bring together customers, prospects and new solutions and achieve essential third-party endorsement in target media.  

Over three quarters of B2B buyers and their sales counterparts say that they prefer the new, Covid-induced digital reality, not only for safety reasons but for ease, speed and convenience. Organizations have had to juggle service disruption and brand reputation and relevancy, alongside workforce welfare, so finding effective digital communication methods and new-found ways of networking have become essential when choosing to engage with people – whether that be customers, clients, staff or journalists.

Taking advantage of available communication tools

With a widespread number of digital services fast forwarded by the pandemic, digital events have brought a windfall of new solutions to the market all while communicating to the eager ears of potential audiences. 

Newfound methods have included the use of social media as a means of interaction between PR pros and journalists. The organic and natural nature of the interaction can help solidify the PR-journalist relationship.  

Remote working has forced countless zoom calls, internal and external online meetings, and events – the demand for digital communication and collaboration escalates. But other technology investments, particularly in data analytics, will be key.

Advanced data analytics for media watching: Keeping you in the ‘know’

Data analytics is well proven to provide insights into customer behaviours and allow insightful and data-driven business decisions – so it is no shock that analytics tools have become precious and integral assets to PR and comms professionals. In this digital age, just posting articles and hoping for the best is not enough. Advancements in digital technology have made insights much more easily accessible, transforming the way businesses operate and as such, have become a crucial tool that PR and comms experts must incorporate into their strategies.

There are now analytics tools that offer the ability to observe who has been reading your stories and from where, and pinpoint which messages are driving sales most successfully and why. When extended in PR, analytics results can allow for a much more targeted approach – providing relevant media and journalist suggestions which can boost media placement opportunities.  

Measurement and analytics tools such as Power BI, Hubspot, Marketo can help show a real focus on long-term campaign results, indicating to company managers that PR pros are achieving ROI through these efforts.

Staying ‘deep-seated’ at the C-suite table

The pandemic hasn’t ‘changed’ the roles of PR, marketing and CIOs but has undoubtedly accelerated their responsibilities far more quickly than anticipated — and they have certainly proved their worth during the last 12 months. While businesses continue to adapt to the new normal, PR and comms professionals are top of the speed dial list. Company leaders are still reliant on this strategic counsel, but will they maintain that seat?

Yes. New developments in data driven analytics will help marketing pros align their proposed PR strategy with company and C-suite goals to ensure common ground. Yes, by adapting to emerging comms platforms, marketing teams kept communication flowing and adjusted to the new ways of working. And yes business leaders believe the industry has done a stellar job!

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