How leadership in B2B media is evolving in the ‘Great Reshuffle’

Since the pandemic took hold in early 2020, there have been countless articles, presentations and discussions of how work and our relationship to it is changing. The biggest crisis since perhaps the financial collapse in the late 2000s has caused many of us to rethink what we value about work and its role in our lives. While it’s impossible to foresee precisely how these trends will play out, it’s clear that things will never be the same or go back to the way they were in the “before times.”

I presented this topic at ASBPE’s 2022 national conference in Cleveland, Ohio. What I wanted to focus on was the specific aspects of this that impact B2B media and the leaders, managers and editors who are responsible for guiding their teams and people forward as best as possible. 

In the months leading up to my presentation, I spoke with many peers and colleagues in B2B and business media. I consistently heard the same thing from them: Hiring, engaging and retaining good people seems to be every business media company’s biggest challenge in 2022. 

That’s because the dynamics around hiring and retention are shifting fast — and not just in B2B media. 

When the pandemic started in early 2020, many companies froze their hiring plans for months. Once companies unpaused their hiring plans and new budgets were approved in the second half of 2020, the floodgates seemed to open: The supply and demand in the hiring market that had been artificially suppressed suddenly spiked. Since that point, there has been high demand for new hires and a limited number of strong candidates. There are higher turnover rates and quickly rising salaries, with inflation another driver of that trend. Recruiters have become more aggressive – offering bigger and better packages, scouting and poaching candidates more proactively, and moving faster through what used to be slower recruiting processes. Job candidates, meanwhile, have displayed different priorities and expectations, seeking jobs that align more with how their lives and values have evolved during the pandemic. 

Leaders and organizations that adapt — quickly and purposefully — can position themselves to thrive. This includes leaning into flexibility where possible, being agile and willing to change, and openness and transparency with staff. Prioritizing work-life balance, taking meaningful steps to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, and leading with empathy are quickly becoming table stakes. Leaders should be proactive to meet people where they are today. Otherwise, they risk losing out on their best employees and job candidates. 

Great leaders understand that their leadership doesn’t come from their authority or title. It comes from the trust, influence, and respect they build through actions and interactions with others. The best leaders get this — and the pandemic has only accelerated the trend. Employees and candidates increasingly aren’t willing to settle for less.

Good leadership doesn’t come from authority or your role. It comes from the trust, influence, and respect you build through your actions and interactions with others. 

At Industry Dive, here are some things we’re trying to improve connection and belonging, invest in development and retention, and build up equity and inclusion. You might find ideas that you want to try too:

  • Building out our internal training program 
  • Offering to invest in external training for our journalists
  • Offering a mentorship program
  • Using a “digital watercooler” app to help people across the newsroom meet each other virtually
  • Hosting staff-led “brown bag” sessions around stories they want to hear about and editorial issues they want to brainstorm
  • Offering remote work when hiring roles
  • Encouraging 1-2 days per week in the office – but not making it mandatory
  • Reviewing and refreshing our newsroom roles and advancement pathways
  • Backup support systems for unexpected absences
  • Stay interviews to help ensure people are happy and we know about any issues
  • Engagement surveys to surface broader patterns
  • Better data tracking for pay and representation 
  • Writing guidelines that address diversity and inclusion issues

Find one of these ideas that works for you? Reach out through our contact form. I would love to hear from you and your experiences.

Davide Savenije

Davide Savenije is the editor-in-chief at Industry Dive. He leads the strategy and direction of Industry Dive's fast-growing newsroom with 20+ trade publications for 2+ million subscribers. Savenije helped define and build Industry Dive's editorial vision, strategy, culture, and team of 100+ world-class business journalists. Before becoming editor-in-chief, he started his career as an intern at Industry Dive in 2012 and wore many hats as an editor and manager in leading the development of publications like Utility Dive and Retail Dive into industry leaders.

Savenije currently serves as vice president of the ASBPE National Board of Directors.

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