EMG in 2021 – traditional PR fights back while digital continues to rise
While 2020 was defined by wholly unforeseen and unprecedented events, 2021, although still impacted by disruption and uncertainty, thankfully saw the waters calm.
The B2B marcom industry, having had time to take stock and gain a better understanding of our audiences amid lockdowns and a slowing of marketing activity, has evolved over the past 12 months with several key trends gathering momentum.
The press release is back with a (local) bang
One of the most striking has been the revival of what we might call traditional PR. Versus 2020, last year saw a sizeable increase in the amount of press releases distributed on behalf of our clients – a 15% growth which translated into a rise in our media pickups and coverage.
This tells us that a degree of business confidence is starting to return. When the pandemic first hit, we understandably saw a drop off in activity, but this started to pick back up in 2021 when organisations emerged from the initial shock and settled into new ways of working.
Although press releases are in part viewed as old school marketing, it is also fair to say they have evolved with the rise of online.
On top of the obvious use cases (new product and service announcements, major hires, improving brand image), press releases are being used to drive many other strategic objectives. These include serving as vehicles for readers to navigate to company websites, improving search engine optimization and generating general brand awareness.
Interestingly, EMG saw an even greater rise (31%) in the number of press releases distributed in different languages in 2021 versus 2020.
This reflects a wider B2B marcom trend towards localised content. Indeed, businesses are realizing that there are better approaches than the one size fits all message, with microsites and localised email campaigns starting to emerge as a useful tool.
Moreover, as well as posting in different languages, firms are also producing more content that is relevant to the regions they are operating in, with content containing local market observations adding to more traditional product orientated posts.
Digital marcomms continues to grow
Perhaps less surprising than the revival of the press release is the continuing growth of digital.
Although EMG’s blog output for our clients remained steady, our social media support for them increased by 15% in terms of post numbers, with clients seeking to launch more campaigns to reach their customers who are increasingly turning to digital channels to consume content.
Last year also highlighted the importance of adopting a multi-channel approach to digital marketing, with the Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram outages underlining the importance of not putting all of your marketing eggs into one basket. In October 2021, Microsoft announced its decision to shut down LinkedIn in China, another development which shows the value of having a diverse set of digital marketing channels and tools.
Webinars, for example, represent a mode of marketing that can differentiate brands from their competitors.
In 2021, EMG tripled its webinar output in light of the continuation of remote working, networking and events.
While we do expect this to ease of in 2022 as physical events make a welcome return, many are now embracing hybrid models whereby virtual attendees can still participate even if they cannot commit to joining in person. If companies get virtual event offerings right, they can continue to help reach audiences that otherwise would not be engaged by physical-only events.
As well as the return of physical events, we expect 2022 to be another busy year.
From an expansion in influencer marketing to the embedding of what is no longer futuristic tech such as AI, virtual reality and augmented reality, there are many trends that we will be eagerly monitoring.
More on these subjectsEvents Social Media Digital Marketing Marketing Communications
Nancy van Heesewijk
on March 14, 2022