Creativity In The Age Of B2H Communications
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Creativity In The Age Of B2H Communications

More nimble internal structures mean that B2B clients are often more creative and integrated than their B2C cousins.

Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Creativity In The Age Of B2H Communications
In 2014 we saw many brands not traditionally viewed as highly creative win Cannes Lions. Phil Thomas, CEO of Cannes noted that more B2B companies winning awards in his 2014 wrap-up.
Was this an anomaly or was the beginning of a trend in communications?
We would argue it started before Cannes. It was made famous by the ‘Volvo Trucks, Epic Split’ campaign. To date it has received 80m views making it the most watched automotive commercial on You-Tube ever.

This year we expect to see the continued rise of business to human communications (B2H) and will no doubt see many more Lions awarded to unexpected companies. What is driving this change? There are three trends and a fourth fact that is making it possible.
Blurred audiences
We can be a different and yet connected audience simultaneously. The way we consumer and categories content has changed.
The lines between our professional and personal lives continue to blur; we move from the latest Netflix series to a white paper by clicking a tab on our computer, from Facebook to the Fast Company with a swipe on our mobile and from the BBC iPlayer to Skype at the press of a button on our TV. Content is on demand and we can choose to consume it when and where we choose. Flexible working and an always-on world means that we are finding new variations in our work life balance. The one thing that remains constant in both our professional and personal lives is that we are human.
Audience investigators
Transparency of the internet is demanding authenticity in communications and a need to communicate a clearly defined purpose.
As Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever described it: "Businesses are under the same scrutiny as governments, and so if you want to be successful in tomorrow’s world, you have to reach higher levels of trust, which requires more transparency."
This is driving the need to align your communications and to connect with all your audiences to tell your real story, your real purpose beyond delivering shareholder value. It no longer makes sense to have different communications strategies for multiple stakeholders.
Changing influence
Everyone is an influencer; from the media to our children; from experts to our friends.
This was made clear to me while preparing a client presentation. I live in a small village with 400 houses and my two daughters aged 9 and 5 attend the small village school.
I was playing the highly awarded ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ film in my study. On hearing the soundtrack my daughters came in and sang along. "But, how do you know the words," I asked. "Oh, we all sing this song and play the game at school Daddy,” was the answer.
Perhaps more impressive is that if I stand on the white line at the edge of the platform my daughters pull me back from the edge, lecturing me on the dangers of standing close to the tracks.

But there is one more fact that is enabling more creative work, our clients. It is not just the agencies that have seen this opportunity but also B2B clients and in many cases their internal structures are more ‘nimble’ that their B2C cousins allowing us to deliver more creative and integrated campaigns more effectively.
This is the age of 'business to human' (B2H) communications and long may it continue.

Simon Shaw  is the chief creative officer at H+K Strategies London.
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