With the new year kicking into gear, experts are weighing in on what PR teams should be looking out for in 2024. Those who work in PR and media have seen a whirlwind 2023. We’re getting a handle on how to use generative AI ethically and with impact, riding the waves of an evolving social media landscape, and navigating unpredictable news cycles.
What are the PR industry trends for the new year? The leadership team here at Crenshaw Communications, a Mod Op company, has taken the time to investigate the emerging trends to expect for 2024.
PR will continue to embrace AI – but expect some hesitancy. From Chris Harihar’s perspective, generative AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E finally gave PR agencies the power to deliver on their promises of AI sophistication. Agency teams will increasingly unlock valuable and time-saving use cases for the tech. Dorothy Crenshaw expects to see new tools that go farther – into predictive intelligence, search, and training for PR and marketing teams.
Anna Julow Roolf believes we’ll see PR leaders reacting to the backlash from non-compliant AI tools. Those who can learn from those apparent pitfalls will gain a competitive advantage. For 2024, she envisions a “differentiation between those in the PR industry able to harness new AI tools, and those who will relegate their AI usage to entry-level use cases or the AI built into legacy or sector-specific tools.”
Dorothy predicts X (formerly Twitter) will continue to wane as a point of PR focus, as LinkedIn and TikTok rise. To engage younger audiences on these platforms, she expects B2B marketers will be taking lessons from their B2C peers. For anyone who’s still trying to find a true “Twitter replacement” as a hub for breaking news – don’t count on it. Media professionals will be turning to more specialized platforms to assist in their work.
Patrice Gamble agrees. She sees platforms like Media.com, which caters to media professionals’ needs, becoming more important sources of information for PR. “Through platforms like Discord, we’re already seeing the beginnings of more meaningful dialogue” between PR and editorial, Patrice says. She predicts these platforms will bring more collaboration and less friction between the two camps, improving storytelling and overall media quality.
PR teams will become even more influential in the fight against misinformation.
In another high-stakes election year, battling misinformation will emerge as a top PR industry trend. Dorothy expects a PR backlash against “mediocre and obviously AI-generated content.” She believes content authenticity verification solutions will become an important part of combating misinformation for PR pros.
Chris is watching how X continues to shed advertisers – driven in part by the spread of misinformation on the platform. And he sees PR teams getting more involved in brand safety. PR professionals’ unique experience in managing news cycles, identifying brand-safe advertisers, and spotting risks for public or advertiser backlash will complement marketers’ perspective and experience here.
PR teams need data to feed AI, and data needs governance. “There is a big opportunity for a tech company to emerge as a data layer for the PR industry, where you safely house everything from email analytics to media feedback data to sentiment analysis,” Chris observes. After all, so many PR professionals who want to incorporate predictive AI into their work simply don’t have the data on hand to do it properly. In other words, there’s room for a Salesforce or Lotame for the PR industry.
Chris also forecasts increased governance of data, which will give businesses the confidence and transparency they need to share AI tools with their key partners. And tools like Copyleaks will become more important for PR firms and other businesses to protect sensitive data at the enterprise level.
Sasha Dookhoo believes measurement will only improve for PR campaigns in 2024. “PR teams are moving toward tracking the innate value of PR – not just in meeting KPIs,” she says. One example? She advises PR teams to consider the innate quality of media coverage and the value of inroads with key reporters in the industry. “This isn’t to be mistaken with the overall quality of the publication,” she adds. “We all know that while a Tier 1 outlet is wonderful for clients, it’s often Tier 2 outlets that move the business needle and create buzz.”
Finally, with the volatility in the media industry over the last couple years, Chris sees a hiring advantage for PR and communications agencies. He expects these agencies to be staffing up in 2024, taking advantage of the overflow of highly qualified media talent in the job market today.
Speaking as a former journalist who’s made the jump over to PR – a quick and intuitive jump, really – I think Chris is on point. Journalists must stay up-to-date on countless issues and trends across an entire industry. In the process they accrue loads of institutional knowledge that can make PR content more relevant and actionable. Plus, they can share insights and experiences that help strengthen media relations and position the PR team as an essential resource for editorial.
PR professionals ought to take note, and to plan how to best respond to and benefit from these the trends we expect to see in 2024. Keep listening to business leaders from the PR world and your key partners to respond to changes and build the strategy that suits your team and goals.