Judith Ingleton-BeerJudith Ingleton-Beer

Digital spending in the U.S. is facing its slowest growth rate in just over a decade—7.8 percent—and the UK’s 2023 advertising spend growth has slowed to 0.5 percent. This is also coming at a time when the C-Suite is turning to PR and marketing departments for a higher return on investment as it starts to trust PR and marketing teams more than ever before.

With ad spending slowing, marketing looks to be on the receiving end of a greater portion of yearly budget cuts. So, what are the implications of this change in budget distribution and how can PR and marketing professionals adapt their tried-and-tested strategies to this new environment?

Maximize the content lifecycle with quality content

Almost two-thirds of B2B buyers believe corporate brand messaging is too vague to actively represent their brand and attract buyers.

B2B PR and marketing professionals need to extract new value for money and maximize the content lifecycle by telling creative stories, conducting research and utilizing SEO.

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

This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Jan. '24 Crisis Communications & PR Buyer's Guide Magazine
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Earned media content is king

Earning quality media placements is key to saving on sponsored content and ad spending. Regardless of where spending is split between B2B PR and marketing strategies, one thing’s 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. As one door closes in editorial and ad spending, 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.

A 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.

Look beyond the (digital) print horizon

As 32 percent of tech marketers designate the highest portion of their budgets to social media marketing, it’s 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 also 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 that people are watching, on average, 17 hours of online videos per week, audiences are more receptive to digital content. In fact, people are 52 percent more likely to share video content than any other type of content.

Earned video content marketing is a good avenue for B2B organizations to grow brand awareness and trust without breaking the bank. As the popularity of short-form video content rises, so has the quality of longer-form content, and an increase in platforms where it can be hosted. YouTube and LinkedIn are just two examples where users can freely post interactive and visually engaging content such as webinars and recorded Q&As, which can cater to exactly what a B2B organization needs.

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.

SEO brings it all home

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 organizations should focus on creating high-quality content, incorporating SEO-driven keywords and backlinks to drive traffic back to their own sites.

Content atomization—the formula for success

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 keyword searches, website visits and social media browsing.

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

Content marketing proves its worth

In the wake of advertising spending cuts, marketers can continue to earn market gains for their clients by maximizing the content lifecycle to prove ROI and secure quality earned media placements, harness creativity to create high-converting content across a plethora of platforms, all while ensuring content is optimized for SEO purposes with keywords and backlinks to bring it all home. It’s time to think creatively and not let money do all the talking.

As one door closes in advertising, another door opens for PR and marketing. Make sure you step through it.


Judith Ingleton-Beer is CEO of B2B communications group IBA International.