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What B2B PR can learn from bloggers, vloggers and the BBC

Posted by Alex Warren on 11th April 2018

Last night I attended the PRCA Broadcast Group’s latest talk on what the worlds of influencer marketing and traditional broadcast media can learn from one another.

Hosted by Daniel Stainsby, the discussion brought together the BBC’s Dan Phelan, SocialCircle’s James Erskine and Hannah Witton, a prominent feminist YouTuber.

Surrounded by a sea of consumer, lifestyle and fashion PRs, my initial reaction upon arriving at the event was ‘what on earth am I doing here?’

As someone who specialises in B2B technology brands, I find myself more comfortable talking to engineers and tech nerds than to bloggers, vloggers or teen YouTube sensations.

That said, unfamiliar situations are always the best opportunity to learn new things and to discover alternative ways of thinking about existing problems. With this in mind, here are three of the key lessons that even B2B marketers and brands can take away from last night’s session:

Long form content is alive and well

Despite the widespread notion that attention economics have driven down our ability to consume long-form content, all three panellists agreed that they’ve seen quite the opposite effect across broadcast, social and YouTube. Rather than prioritising snappy videos and high-level content, brands should look to adopt a more in-depth discussion format, providing readers and viewers with enough information to become engaged and ultimately leave with an informed opinion.

Content creators aren’t always influencers

James Erskine, Managing Director of Social Circle draws an interesting distinction between two of the most frequently confused audiences in the digital media landscape. As PR professionals it’s all too easy to use the term ‘influencers’ as a catch-all for everything from celebrities and journalists to bloggers and YouTube stars. In reality, regardless of whether you’re working in B2C or B2B, it’s important to distinguish between those who have true influence and those that are simply ‘content creators’. Not everyone with influence will be churning out reams of quality content; similarly, not everyone developing their own content should be classified as an effective influencer. The trick is to know who falls into which camp, and to tailor your outreach accordingly.

Good content can beat a good brand

Speaking about the BBC iPlayer Radio app, Dan Phelan highlighted the changing way in which listeners choose to engage with content, and in particular the growing priority they place on content quality over loyalty to specific channels or brands. While building an effective brand is still important, all three panellists agreed that the production of interesting, engaging and high-quality content can trump brand loyalty – particularly amongst younger audiences and those consuming content online.

More than anything, last night’s talk proved that there’s always something to learn from the experiences of those beyond your immediate field of expertise. Nothing stifles creativity quite like building yourself too comfortable a pigeon hole.

B2B brands mustn’t shy away from those campaigns, tactics and debates that are defining the consumer space. Similarly, consumer brands can learn a lot from the methodical influencer strategies that have come to define B2B PR. As creative professionals, it’s our job to help these brands uncover such an approach, being open to lateral thinking and exploring every avenue for new and alternative inspiration.

Alex Warren

Alex Warren is an expert in AI and marketing technologies. He has published two books, Spin Machines, and Technoutopia and is regularly quoted in PR, marketing and technology media. In his role as a Senior Account Director at Wildfire he helps tech brands build creative strategies that deliver results and cut through the marketing BS.