Blogs & Interviews

Top Trends for B2B Communications in 2024

Top Trends for B2B Communications in 2024
Mike Maynard is owner of the UK B2B PR Agency Napier and Deputy Chairman of Eurocom Worldwide, the global PR Network for B2B and Technology
Mike Maynard, Deputy Chairman of Eurocom Worldwide
Mike Maynard, Deputy Chairman of Eurocom Worldwide

The season for crystal ball gazing is here, and the outlook for 2024 has arrived:

As owner of Napier, and Deputy Chairman of Eurocom Worldwide, I was able to canvass my colleagues and peers to get a sense of what they believe will present the biggest challenges, and conversely, the biggest potential rewards for B2B marketers in 2024.

Many of them focussed to some degree on the impact of AI, but instead of getting lost immediately in that exciting field, let’s accept AI as a given and mention some of the other emerging trends that you may not be aware of.

1. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

From an admittedly slightly biased European perspective, the first of the leading trends my peers are seeing for 2024 is “Environmental, Social and Governance” (ESG) reporting, which will have a huge impact in Europe.

ESG is a set of policies, procedures and metrics that companies must implement and document to limit the negative impact, or enhance the positive impact on environmental, societal, and governmental bodies. In Europe, mandatory ESG reporting will be introduced by mid-2024 for all companies operating on the continent.

We know that ESG reporting will require trust. Trust builds confidence among stakeholders, enhances a company's reputation and contributes to sustainable and responsible business practices. If ESG is going to succeed, maintaining trust in reporting is crucial.

2. Internal Communications

The second trend for 2024 is how much more important internal communications will become. This is actually in relation to ESG in the sense that effective internal communications is going to be even more important. Why? Because you must involve people in your ESG efforts right alongside programmes to boost diversity and inclusion. Our younger generation of co-workers already expect, in fact demand, such initiatives from their employers. With the global skills shortage, which we’ll come onto later, remember that your prospective candidates have choices!

Vineta Savicka, a guest lecturer at Rīga Stradiņš University in Latvia said, “There will be a continuously growing focus on internal comms support for DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging) initiatives and employer branding programs in organisations."

I think we all want to feel more bonded to the organisations we work for and represent as well as those that benefit from the work we do on their behalf. Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are all admirable, and attainable, for any organisation’s communications programme.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Our third trend is the one we parked earlier, but that no one can ignore – artificial intelligence (AI).

AI will continue to develop and improve rapidly, driven primarily by deep learning capabilities that will have the potential to influence a huge range of currently commonplace processes, decisions and tasks. During 2024 alone I expect to marvel at the emergence of at least one substantial leap forward in what AI will be able to do.

Photo of Eduardo Menal, Both, Spain
Eduardo Menal Casas, Both, Spain

According to Eduardo Menal Casas, partner and executive director at Both in Barcelona, Spain, “The integration of AI into strategic communications plans, both in terms of reputation and products/services offered will be at the forefront in 2024.”

My Napier colleague, Director Suzy Kenyon added, “People being fired for using AI badly will become more commonplace as AI becomes more widely used and employees try to use AI inappropriately to cut corners, so care is required.”

4. Big Data

Of course, AI can’t really happen without our fourth trend, and that’s the explosion in the gathering, processing and dissemination of “big data”.

Data-driven approaches have flourished in recent years and a lot of that data is now used to underpin a staggering range of modern business communications methods and practices. The data genie is out of the bottle, and big data is only going to get bigger.

Finland-based Idea Group’s Director Marja-Terttu Rantanen said, “Artificial intelligence supports content production and the gathering and summarizing of information. However, the human perspective, the company's brand and the tone-of-voice still require human input.”

5. Human Talent

The upshot of Marja-Terttu’s observation is that, thankfully, irrespective of AI and big data, trend five is that talented individuals – and teams comprised of them – are just if not more important than ever.

AI and big data are making complex tasks easier, but simultaneously multiplying the number of complex tasks that need doing. So, if you couple the need for human beings to understand and manage it all with the current worldwide skills shortage, the scramble for good talent will continue to increase in intensity.

And Eduardo Menal Casas agrees. “What will be very important in 2024 and beyond is how our industry will continue to be challenged to attract and retain specialised talent in tech communications,” he said.

6. Digitalisation

It almost goes without saying, but our sixth trend for 2024 is the continued dominance of digitalisation. For B2B marketing purposes digitalisation means far more than just placing stories on websites. Today’s communication professionals must develop and deploy new digital tools that take advantage of all the capabilities of digitalisation. Again, there’s no looking back. Those who do, or refuse to budge, will be left behind.

Photo of Mafalda Marques, Media em Movimento, Portugal
Mafalda Marques, Media em Movimento, Portugal

Founder and CEO at Media em Movimento, Portugal, Mafalda Marques, said, “As well as hosting transformative technology events and encouraging the arrival of digital nomads, Portugal is preparing to create a Digital Innovation Hub to prepare companies for the integration of Artificial Intelligence and high-performance computing.”

This is ample evidence of what lengths professionals are going to accommodate the need for digitalisation. It’s very exciting but, again, requires the human touch in certain areas.

7. Personal Communication

So, coming in at trend seven is the fact that, on balance, people still like doing business with people! Face-to-face and word-of-mouth recommendations will still trump anything promoted by a chatbot. Although transactions are continuing to move online, personal relationships and recommendations matter a great deal… some would argue more than ever.

As Marja-Terttu Rantanen from Idea Group said, “Personal communication is effective and is important in B2B communication, where demanding professional buyers are involved. Sales communication skills vary, so training helps as well as high-quality and diverse support materials.”

8. Earned Media

However, that’s not to ignore our eighth trend, and that’s that media still matters, too! Third-party endorsement through editorial coverage will continue to be important. Media visibility is still more credible than advertising and is a cost-effective way to improve awareness. Making the journalist's job easy through providing perspectives of interviewees, images, infographics and background information will remain a very important part of the communications mix.”

9. Paid Media

And because media still matters, our ninth trend sees the increasing reliance on paid media. If we accept that traditional media still matters, more and more business entities are prepared to pay to appear to matter more than their competitors. It used to be that B2B (and B2C) agencies scoffed at paid-for media as pedestrian and unworthy. That attitude, in today’s market, is pretentious and not very practical. I’m not saying it’s either-or, just that there is still room for both.

“2024 will see continued media consolidation and a further expansion of pay-for-play only opportunities and preferred partnerships between agencies and publishing houses. This will further extend the need for agencies to be able to provide integrated PR and marketing offerings that focus on driving business outcomes beyond just securing organic media coverage,” said Adam Benson, CEO of The Recognition Group, Australia.

Latvia’s Vineta Savicka concurs, saying: “More and more newsrooms are introducing subscription and see the opportunity to sell placement for articles rather than to create content based on PR materials.”

10. Community Building

As we close in on the finish of our trend round up, our tenth trend is “building community”.

Photo of Rostislav Stary, Konektor, Czech Republic
Rostislav Stary, Konektor, Czech Republic

Rostislav Stary, partner at Konektor in Prague said, “What we want to focus on a lot is community building. With the erosion of trust and the rise of fake news, brands will invest more in their own channels and in building relationships and channels direct with their customers. I expect a big focus on owned media – and therefore a big opportunity for our industry in (re)building relationships with communities.”

11. B2B Influencers

Our eleventh and final trend for 2024 according to our experts is the use of B2B influencers through social media. For B2B markets, influencers are not going to perform as well as they do in the consumer market, but they will nevertheless become increasingly important in 2024. Again, it’s about agencies being agile and taking advantage of this type of channel, leaving no marketing stone unturned or uninfluenced.

Another director colleague of mine at Napier, Ian Jarrett adds, “The impact of influencers grows as companies realise a lot of them are their employees.”


So, what can we take from of all this? I’ve had my say here and there, but I think the best conclusion about what to expect in 2024 is probably best expressed by Robin Baker, Chairman of the Eurocom Worldwide Network.

Robin concludes by saying, “The pace of change shows no sign of slowing, despite the rapid rate in recent years (due to COVID, AI, etc). But having a strong network like Eurocom Worldwide will ensure member agencies are taking advantage of the changes and not simply reacting to them.”