Will your expert thought leadership article flop, or will it catch the eye of journalists across your target markets and geographies? To the untrained eye, it might be thought that this is out of the control of PR and Marketing pros – but to those that work to understand the needs and expectations of target journalists, story expectations can be gauged for levels of success to secure those vital column inches.

The latest annual instalment of the ‘Global State of the Media Report’, published by PR and Marketing intelligence company Cision, provides us with an extensive update on what makes journalists tick in 2021, from story types and media challenges through to expectations of PR pros. With insights drawn from over 2,700 journalists worldwide, spanning media from print and broadcast to blogs and social influencers, it is a vital source of information for any PR and Marketing arsenal.

There are always plenty of lessons to be learned direct from the source – indeed, our last review of a Cision report took a detailed look at how ‘State of the Press Release’ insights could be tapped into to ensure greater press release coverage for B2B companies.

We’ve evaluated the report and here are our top four Global State of the Media takeaways – and lessons to be learnt for B2B PR and Marketing activities in 2021:

Covid-19 fatigue is rampant

At IBA, we’ve always been strong advocates of the need for a news ‘peg’ on which to hang brand messaging and expertise. Many organisations in both B2B and B2C took this to heart throughout the pandemic, demonstrating how they refocused core business operations to support the fight against Covid-19 – such as motorsport consortiums switching to ventilator production, or gin distilleries mass-producing hand sanitiser.

Journalists suffer from fatigue – witness ‘green-fatigue’. So after 18 months of daily coverage, even in trade and tech publications, the COVID angle has begun to wear thin. 37.4 per cent of journalists have reported fatigue from covering the pandemic. There are of course still nuances to this particular topic – the IBA team, for example, has been producing thought leadership on how the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation efforts, and what that might mean for businesses in the future. This is providing the perfect springboard for 2021.

As part of their 2021 editorial strategies, 30.5 per cent of journalists are looking for stories on how new technologies are helping businesses and consumers. For those of us in the B2B technology space, this presents excellent opportunities to share how tech companies are innovating and bringing advanced technologies into new markets – think testimonials and use cases!

Journalists need to keep those plates spinning, so build those all-important content relationships

With a staggering 46.8 per cent of journalists today covering five or more beats, and almost a third of journalists filing ten or more pieces per week, the value of building a long-lasting content relationship has never been more vital.

This involves only pitching relevant content, aligning content creation efforts with editorial calendars and recurring feature topics, and delivering copy drafted to a high standard that doesn’t require extensive back-and-forth with a journalist working to tight deadlines. Make Pitch&Place a seamless process, and journalists will quickly consider you a go-to source for expert contributions.

Stand out from the ‘pile’ with your content

We’re no strangers to extensive media outreach at IBA – our team has spoken with editors of specialist and regional publications around the world that still receive upwards of a thousand press releases and pitches per day. Simply adding your press release or article pitch to the pile is not an effective method of securing consistent coverage in target publications.

Over 60% of surveyed journalists expect pitched stories to be of specific relevance to both them and their target audience, and also prefer access to data and sources to support content. This is where B2B technology agencies can let their subject knowledge shine, drafting relevant content to address hot topics with a unique angle, provide a fresh perspective or contribute new research that expands on already well-trodden themes.

Companies often have a wealth of siloed customer stats, use cases and in-house technical knowledge that can be harnessed for this purpose, once aligned with relevant journalist features.

Any comment? Timely contributions are key

Time is of the essence – and companies must not let their messaging fall behind the curve. The Cision report revealed over 29 per cent of journalists are looking for ‘more research-based, thought leadership content covering topical issues’. Any PR agency worth their salt will routinely track feature opportunities and assess suitability for client contribution – whether from repurposed existing copy held within a repository, or short-notice content creation – for rapid media response.

We recently identified a journalist request for expert contributions on an upcoming feature on customer-focused technology – the exact field our client is an established player in. Our Pitch&Place team confirmed interest with the journalist, drafted an extensive contribution, agreed an appropriate SME byline, completed full review and sign-off, and submitted to the journalist for inclusion – all within 24 hours.

The final takeaway? Keep your finger on the pulse

Much as we encourage B2B technology clients to actively discuss industry trends and position themselves as leaders in these areas, it is equally important to monitor shifting journalist and media trends to ensure brand messaging is effectively communicated in a clear, timely fashion – in a variety of formats.

Any truly effective B2B PR and Marketing campaign will be proactive in nature, marrying USPs to hot topics or emerging industry issues at the earliest opportunity. This demonstrates a clear pattern of leadership in the field – one that will not go unnoticed by journalists, customers and prospects alike.

Simon Woolley is PR Account Manager at IBA International.

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