Navigating B2B comms while riding the AI wave and surviving the media collapse

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Public Relations

2024 presents a formidable challenge for B2B brands seeking to stand out. The battleground has shifted, with two significant factors redefining the rules of both communications and brand engagement: the proliferation of AI-fueled content and the gradual fading of traditional journalism.

For communicators operating along the increasingly blurred lines of PR & marketing, this evolution is a double-edged sword. On one hand, AI offers unprecedented efficiency and scale in content creation, opening new avenues for innovative storytelling across new digital channels. On the other hand, the decline of traditional journalism challenges PR practitioners to find new platforms and methods to convey our messages effectively at scale and through trustworthy channels. In this landscape, adaptability and creativity become key assets for communicators, as they navigate through these transformative trends.

Let’s take a look at some of these challenges, and, more importantly, explore the strategies that will enable B2B brands to not only survive but thrive in this competitive arena.

AI’s content onslaught: Trading value for output

Our firm’s research in 2023 found that 35 percent of B2B content marketers were already using AI for content ideation, and 33 percent were utilizing it for writing full drafts of content pieces. We can expect that this will continue to increase as companies across industries are increasingly turning to AI to scale their content programs.

This surge, while demonstrating AI’s efficiency in generating content, introduces a significant challenge: the compromise of content value for sheer output. As AI tools become more accessible, there’s a tendency for companies to prioritize quantity over quality. This approach often leads to a market flooded with content that lacks depth and fails to engage audiences meaningfully.

For startup content marketing programs, which thrive on creating high-value, targeted content to captivate and convert their audience, this trend can be particularly problematic. These startups typically have a critical need to establish thought leadership and trust with their audience, which requires content that is not only frequent but also rich in quality and relevance.

The overwhelming volume of AI-generated content in the market can dilute the impact of these value-driven content strategies, making it harder for B2B brands, particularly those in earlier stages, to differentiate their voice and build a loyal audience base.

The decline of traditional media: A shrinking realm of opportunity

As AI revolutionizes content creation, another significant shift is occurring: the gradual decline of traditional media. This change is not just a trend but a pivotal transformation in the communication landscape. Journalistic outlets, once the bedrock for brand visibility and exposure, are facing dwindling influence and reach as traffic to news websites from search engines and social media continues to plummet. The decrease in traditional media opportunities presents a complex challenge for brands and communicators who have long relied on these channels for awareness, audience engagement, and trust.

This decline signifies a critical juncture for B2B brands in particular. It underscores the importance of adapting to a media environment that is increasingly digital and fragmented. Traditional methods like press releases and standard pitches are losing their effectiveness, compelling brands to innovate their approach to media relations and storytelling. This shift demands creativity and agility in crafting narratives and leveraging emerging platforms to reach audiences.

Charting a new path forward

To thrive in 2024, B2B brands must embrace a multi-pronged marketing and communications approach that includes:

  • Crafting human-centric narratives

In the race to save costs and increase output, many brands are turning to AI to supercharge their content strategy. However, this approach can inadvertently strip away the essential human touch required to create compelling narratives. To truly stand out in 2024, B2B brands must re-embrace their humanness.

Instead of relying solely on AI-generated content, leverage your understanding of your target audience’s pain points and aspirations to craft human-centric storylines. These narratives go beyond mere information—they tap into the emotional core of your audience, captivating their attention and fostering a deeper connection. Remember, in a world saturated with automated content, authenticity and relatability are the currency of engagement.

  • Leveraging data-backed narratives

In the battle for attention, data is your most potent weapon. Gone are the days when empty rhetoric and vague promises sufficed. In 2024, B2B brands must substantiate their claims with solid, data-driven evidence.

To truly stand out, ensure that your stories are fortified with unassailable data. Don’t rely on mere anecdotes—gather data through surveys, dissect market dynamics, and wield figures that demand attention. Show that you not only understand your audience’s problems but can quantifiably address them. In the world of B2B, where trust and credibility are paramount, data-backed narratives are the ultimate differentiator.

  • Mastering the art of timing

In the frenetic race for attention, timing often separates the winners from the also-rans. While launching a product or making a significant announcement at the start of the year might seem logical, it’s a strategy shared by many – and therein lies the problem. Your message risks getting lost in the clamor of new beginnings and resolutions.

To truly stand out, seek the opportune moment when others aren’t clamoring for attention. Look for those pockets of time when your message can shine without being overshadowed by the crowd. Remember, in 2024, it’s not just about being present — it’s about showing up at precisely the right time.

Rising above the noise in 2024

In 2024, B2B brands face the formidable challenge of breaking through the digital clutter to engage their target audience meaningfully. The landscape is transformed, with AI-driven content on the rise and traditional media’s influence waning, calling for a strategic reevaluation of our marketing and storytelling approaches.

To not just survive but thrive, we must rekindle the essence of our human touch in the narratives we craft. These stories must resonate deeply, grounded in robust data that speaks directly to the needs and challenges of our audience. Additionally, the art of timing becomes crucial, as we strategically choose moments that amplify our message above the rest.

The core of impactful marketing is unchanged—it’s about forging genuine connections, showing empathy, and providing true value. For B2B brands and communicators, now is the time to embrace this moment with narratives that are not only present but also powerful and poignant. It’s time to elevate stories, armed with authenticity and data, to ensure that in the din of 2024, your brand doesn’t just make noise—it makes an impact. While there are challenges ahead, B2B communicators have the opportunity to shape the new era of digital storytelling.

John Eidson
John Eidson is Partner and VP of Content Strategy at BMV


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