Opportunities & Threats: B2B Media

What’s the outlook for B2B media in 2021? One thing that publishers should not be expecting, writes Colin Morrison, is any return to “normal”.

By Colin Morrison

Opportunities & Threats: B2B Media
Photograph: Compare Fibre on Unsplash.

Nobody needs reminding of the impact of Covid these past ten months. But it’s equally clear that some media companies may still be planning for a return to “normal”, rather than to a world which has been fundamentally changed by the pandemic.

That’s why it is vital for B2B media companies (and all others) to recognise what has happened to business generally:

  1. Covid has accelerated systemic changes that were already underway. These include the publishing switch from print to digital and from advertising to readership revenue. In other media sectors, the shift from ‘through the air’ broadcasting to online streaming has also been accelerated.
  2. Covid has potentially reduced some of the “economic inefficiencies” of business. These include the costs of town / city centre premises, both for companies and for commuting employees. But such ‘inefficiencies’ also include the costs of business travel to “must attend” meetings, conferences and exhibitions.

Publishers everywhere have adapted to a Covid world of virtual events, Zoom meetings and remote working. Some have, literally, made it work. But, for many, it has been a patchwork way to survive until the return to “normal”.

That is why B2B media companies must understand exactly how expectations and attitudes have been permanently changed by the pandemic.

As the virus starts to recede in the coming months, publishers must make specific plans for how they will operate in this “new” world, including the following:

  • Employees: after months of working from home (many on reduced salaries), publishers will need to consider whether to allow their people to continue doing so for all or much of the time. How can this be managed to suit the company – and employees whose work-life balance and budgets have been changed by the pandemic? It creates the opportunity for a new ‘contract’ with employees and possibly also some cost savings for all. Working lives once defined as the number of hours spent in the office may need to be focused more on the actual work done.
  • Customers: many live events need to become “hybrid”, providing digital access for customers who cannot attend in person. This might include remote access via streaming and other media. This opportunity to substantially expand the reach of events comes with the challenging requirement to apply technologies that give virtual customers an experience almost to match the ‘in person’ experience.

After a pandemic which (remember) has plunged much of the world into recession, these are opportunities for B2B publishers to re-set – and even expand - their businesses. But they also carry a threat if they don’t meet the challenge. Media accustomed to telling businesspeople how to manage their companies in a changing world must now follow their own advice. Or else.

B2B media companies must understand exactly how expectations and attitudes have been permanently changed by the pandemic.

This article was first published in the Publishing Partners Guide, an annual directory distributed with InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.