Laura Richards is the Marketing and PR Manager at Northstar Ventures, I decided to pick her brains on B2B marketing today.

Claire Trévien: Looking back at your career to date it looks incredibly rich, from a career in broadcasting, to marketing in Cambodia and Australia. You are now the PR & Marketing Manager at Northstar Ventures. Do you think this has given you a different outlook to a more 'traditional' PR and Marketing person?

Laura Richards: Although my route into PR and Marketing was quite round-about, there have been two constants throughout my career: storytelling and people.

Working in broadcast isn’t dissimilar to PR or marketing – it’s all about telling a story. The format might be different, but the process is the same. The important thing is to know your audience. If you understand the questions people are asking, what keeps them up at night, what makes them laugh… that’s the key to producing relevant content and building a brand people want to engage with.

I think that by taking a less ‘traditional’ route into PR and Marketing, I worry less about what my role is supposed to look like, focussing instead on how best to tell a brand’s story – be that through paid adverts, content marketing, social media engagement, or more traditional PR tactics like media relations and events.

CT: You are a well-known advocate of gender diversity, what key piece of advice would you give someone contemplating a career in communications today?

LR: Go for it, and don’t stop until you’re happy with what you’ve achieved. In the UK at the moment approximately 70% of comms jobs are held by women, but only 30% of C-suite jobs are, and the stats for digital are even worse! We need a more diverse range of role models, to encourage more women to see themselves in leadership roles in the industry.

CT: On a similar topic, your piece FemTech the women disrupting digital finance received an impressive 124 shares on LinkedIn, not an unusual number for your posts. What's the secret to writing a post that connects with your audience?

LR: Mark Twain famously said ‘write what you know’. I think this is still the key to writing engaging thought-leadership posts, especially in the context of B2B content marketing. But what Mr Twain didn’t add is that you should also write about topics you are passionate about. There’s so much noise online now that as consumers we can tell when content has been created just for the sake of it and when a writer is talking about something that they really care about. It’s the latter that audiences can relate to.

CT: With so many tools and apps popping up all the time, it can be hard to work out which ones have staying power. Which five tools or apps are you finding essential for your job?

LR: First up has to be a scheduling tool for social media (I use Hootsuite) – it allows you to be more proactive with your posts and can save so much time.

As we share a lot of news and content on our Northstar Ventures’ social media channels, I use snip.lyto share links – it lets you add a CTA on any webpage you share, which we use to drive traffic to our site.

Tracking and evaluating engagement levels online is really important, so I use neatly.io to collect and analyse our data. Neatly lets you sync all your accounts (social media, Google Analytics, CRM system, etc) so you can view it on one dashboard. It also provides really useful insights about web traffic and user behaviour, which makes it much easier to refine your activities.

I also think multimedia content and integrated content is going to continue to rise in popularity – I use tools like Canva and Ripl to create visual media to be shared across all our channels.

And last (but certainly not least!), implementing Passle has been instrumental for our digital marketing strategy this year. Having a platform that allows anyone in our team to create content, based on the topics they know and are passionate about, has had a significant impact on our ability to engage with our stakeholders online.

CT: What do you think is the 'Next Big Trend' in PR and/or marketing?

LR: With the capabilities of AI and machine learning improving at such a rapid pace, I think we’re going to see lots of PR and marketing tactics become automated in the not too distant future. This means PRs and marketers’ responsibilities will shift to strategy and understanding consumer behaviour as a result.