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Communications execs in B2B are over-worked, under-valued and struggling with strategy

Communications executives in business-to-business (B2B) are over-worked, under-valued and struggling with strategy claims a recent study from marketing agency Octopus Group called Breathless Business.

Businesses will fail to make the most of PR opportunities, if their comms people are unable to cope with their workloads. One of the first things to suffer will be future planning as comms professionals are too busy fire-fighting. The study shows that over three-quarters (77%) of comms executives say they are stressed, and 65% say they’re more stressed than this time last year, with 61% working beyond their contracted hours on a regular basis.

How stressed do you feel compared to last year?

Comms directors are torn between delivering on strategy and getting the day job done, whilst battling to cope with constant changes in markets, communications media and technologies. Over half (59%) are having to become more creative and innovative in order to compete with other suppliers in the market. Over half (52%) are also having to get to grips with more areas of the business in order to be effective.

Which of the following causes you stress at work?

Discussing how these stresses are impacting business, Billy Hamilton-Stent, client strategy director at Octopus says: “Overworked and undervalued employees mean businesses are losing the capacity to plan for the future. Comms execs are facing change from all directions; business is manic and they’re feeling breathless.”

One answer to dealing with all these stresses, says Hamilton-Stent, is to taking a step away from the immediate pressures, and take time out to think calmly about the future, and remember that customers are more important than the competition: “Comms professionals can get their breath back by pulling creative levers, whilst also getting to grips with the needs of their customers.

What from you experience, is the general perception in your business of marketing and communications as a discipline?

“This will enable them to get ahead of competitors, and bring their businesses back into line with their customers, so they can become the dominant disruptor in their industry. Obsessing about the competition is stressful and won’t stop them disrupting you, so instead put your customers’ needs first”.

Thinking about your business, to what extent would you agree with the following statements about your business mindset?


It is easy to say “stop panicking”, but not so easy to put it into practice when you feel like you are working in a pressure cooker. It is up to B2B employers to make sure their communications staff have the resources, training and support they need to do their jobs effectively. Then perhaps PROs can concentrate on strategy and focus on what is truly important for the future: pleasing the customer.


Octopus Group’s Breathless Business survey was carried out by its research unit, Loudhouse, in March 2017. 200 comms and marketing directors were surveyed, as well as 400 senior B2B buyers.

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