The Great Recession of 2020 turned the business world upside down, leading to many changes taking place for nearly every industry under the sun. From restaurants developing long-term economic models, to banking going more digital than ever before, to education and healthcare being given from a distance—there have been many shake ups. In most of these cases, the changes were implemented in response to pandemic-related social distancing and shelter-in-place orders.
What many don’t realize is that the tech PR arena in B2B also underwent its own series of changes. B2B tech PR professionals and agencies were expected to do more for companies with less resources to tap into. PR budgets became reduced by up to 64 percent for clients since the onset of the pandemic. Numbers initially dropped across the board for agencies as well, as 77 percent of clients reduced their retainers; 90 percent postponed campaigns, and 83 percent canceled activations. That meant agencies needed to revisit, and ramp up efforts. But there was a catch. PR efforts got tricker, because in-person industry events, such as trade shows, conferences, and networking events, got cancelled. Those that didn’t get cancelled made the switch to become virtual events.
The PR and marketing worlds suddenly went from being increasingly digital, to all digital.
The B2B tech PR advantage
Unlike many industries that entered a state of chaos while undergoing a series of digital transformations, the professionals and agencies in the B2B tech PR ecosystem had one major benefit: major tech savviness.
The heavy usage of digital products, solutions, and networks for all PR efforts wasn’t all that difficult for those ahead of the game. Newsrooms may have been closed, and events may have been canceled, but there were many other options that were perfectly open, available, and thriving. These include digital tactics and strategies that revolve around an increase in the production of video content, podcasts, virtual round-tables, webinars, and even AMA’s. Additionally, PR professionals would advise their clients to create new types of content for brand visibility, beyond blog posts. These include whitepapers, research papers, infographics, and more. This was all done to cater to the shift in audience expectations, as well as being able to provide a wealth of content for journalists to choose from. After all, many journalists became exhausted from only posting about pandemic updates.
The secret to B2B tech PR success? Storytelling
Storytelling capabilities have always been the ultimate make-or-break for successful PR campaigns. Since the Great Recession, the need for stories to appeal to audiences beyond members of the media (such as industry analysts, potential investors, even the general public) has become more important than ever.
The areas of PR communications that have been most affected by the pandemic include consumer/brand campaigns, crisis communications, public information campaigns, corporate assignments, and public affairs. In some cases, that even meant tapping into heartwarming or heavy-hitting topics, such as diversity/inclusion within respective industries, demonstrations of solidarity, and acts of goodwill.
Creativity is in the DNA of PR professionals. To ensure the most effective campaigns in the long term, B2B tech PR professionals and agencies need to think outside the box, and consistently develop new angles and approaches for stories that will resonate for wider audiences on both the business and human front.