The State Of AI In PR: Takeaways From Muck Rack’s 2024 Report

Obvious statement: 2023 was a breakout year for generative AI. Its impact was felt everywhere, and the PR business was no exception.

Midway through 2023, I wrote a blog post on why tech is important to PR, including a section on “the chatbot in the room,” aka generative AI. TL/DR version: AI is to PR now what social media was to PR in the early aughts. It will dramatically influence communications and provide new avenues for PR – but only for those professionals who choose to harness it.

In other words, when it comes to PR and generative AI, I’m skeptical about deep adoption across the industry. I anticipate a growing rift between PR practitioners who embrace generative AI and those who will choose to just keep doing things the way they’ve always done them.

So when media database Muck Rack released the “State of AI in PR January 2024,” I was curious to see if the data would support my theory.

About Muck Rack’s State of AI in PR January 2024 Report

Muck Rack’s latest State of AI in PR report was released earlier this month. It surveyed 1,001 PR professionals from November 2 through December 14. According to the report, “The goal of this survey is to deliver insights to the PR industry to help improve the workflow of public relations professionals, particularly around the rapidly expanding field of generative artificial intelligence.” Muck Rack says the survey was fielded primarily through email.

You can download the full State of AI in PR report on their website. (We are Muck Rack customers, but are not otherwise affiliated with the brand.)

In reviewing Muck Rack’s latest report, here are a few of my top takeaways:

The number of PR pros using generative AI doubled between March and November 2023

According to Muck Rack, the number of PR pros who said they use generative AI more than doubled from 28% in March to 64% in November. The claim that a majority of PR people surveyed are using generative AI only a year after ChatGPT’s release is a big claim. Based on my experience, both as an PR person and a member of the team at PR tool Propel PRM, Muck Rack customers tend to be a little more tech-savvy than average. Muck Rack does not disclose what portion of the 1,001 survey participants are Muck Rack customers, but I imagine it’s the majority. If true, the share of PR pros reporting that they use generative AI may be a bit inflated. I’m not convinced.

Still, if we look at the change in adoption between March and November, it may point to where we may be on Rogers Innovation Adoption Curve. With that kind of hockey stick growth, I believe we could be near the end of early adopters or into the early majority. That’s why I would not be surprised to see adoption of generative AI among PR pros increase slightly before leveling off in 2024.

Brands and agencies are misaligned on disclosure expectations

According to Muck Rack, “21% of agency PR pros say they never disclose their AI use to the clients. [While] only 6% of pros at brands think that’s the right move,” this calls to mind larger conversations around transparency and ethics. It’s similar to what we saw with Sports Illustrated, which admitted in December 2023 to using AI to generate author profiles without informing readers or crediting the AI.

Questions around disclosure — when, what and how much — are not new. We saw newsrooms grapple with rules for AI throughout 2023. Expect the conversation to continue in 2024 for anyone and everyone who touches communications. Which leads into the next stat about generative AI and governance.

72% of companies don’t have an AI policy in place

While 21% of respondents said their workplaces have an AI policy in place, 72% reported they don’t have one (though 22% noted plans to create one). Most (75%) also don’t offer AI training. I imagine these are factors further agitating the misalignment between agencies and brands. The report shows that (not surprisingly) larger companies tend to have an AI policy in place; it doesn’t report which types of teams – in-house or agency – are more likely to be subject to an AI policy.

AI policies can take various forms. As Mod Op CTO Tessa Burg shared with our team recently, 2024 is likely the year AI Councils will go from “cool” to necessary. I tend to agree, especially as agencies grapple with how to fulfill both client expectations and requirements. (You can learn more about Mod Op’s AI Council on the Mod Op Leader Generation podcast.)

67% are worried about overreliance on tools by the next generation in PR

When asked about the risks generative AI tools pose to the PR profession, 67% of survey respondents said “young/newer PR pros don’t learn the principles of the profession and rely too heavily on tools.” This was the most common response, surpassing concerns about lowered quality of conversations, clients/firms replacing content creators with AI, and audiences getting overwhelmed by content.

The report also has a section on “anti-AI PR pros.” Common reasons for not exploring generative AI included unpredictable outputs (45%), “I don’t think it will help my job” (39%), and concerns about privacy (39%). But the top reason was “other,” with responses covering a wide range of reasons. “Some say there’s an ethical reason to avoid AI,” the report says, and “others cite security concerns.”

One anti-AI PR pro, showcasing a narrow view of generative AI’s potential service for the PR industry, responded,”Why should anyone be bothered to read something I couldn’t be bothered to write?”

For me, these two sections of the report point to the potential rift between PR practitioners who will embrace generative AI and those who do not. The latter group, in my view, will miss opportunities to create awareness, build credibility, maintain relationships, and influence the public’s attitude toward their brand or organization — ultimately the main objectives of PR.

Top PR Insights From 2023 – It’s More Than AI!

This year, our PR team published dozens of blog posts, sharing PR insights and unpacking trends from a variety of perspectives. They’re based on the experience and direct observation from people at all staff levels. And 2023 has certainly been a year of wild experiences for PR professionals.

We’re not just talking about ChatGPT – although the Crenshaw team has been early and vocal in proclaiming Chat GPT’s usefulness for PR. We’ve explored imaginative ways to frame narratives, take advantage of new social channels, ride the waves of change in tech PR, and more.

Here’s a countdown of the five Crenshaw blog posts that have attracted the most attention throughout 2023.

Top PR Insights from 2023 that PR Professionals Need for 2024

  1. Five Essentials for PR Campaigns Tied to Holidays

Holidays offer great opportunities for PR teams and the brands they represent, but it’s also easy to slip and see your message get lost in the chatter. To connect a campaign to a holiday, there must be a purpose, a relevant message, and of course a thorough plan. In this post, Sasha Dookhoo explains how PR teams can set themselves up for success in holiday-themed campaigns – and to recognize what success looks like.

  1. Triggers, Myths and Archetypes for Powerful PR Storytelling

PR is evolving beyond pitching stories for reporters to tell. More than ever, PR professionals are telling the stories ourselves. And to tell memorable stories, we need to understand how to make emotional connections with the audience, and to present a story that holds their attention. Where better to look for those narratives than Joseph Campbell’s own Hero’s Journey? There are reasons why these familiar story lines continue to resonate over millennia.

  1. For PR, Is ChatGPT an Asset or a Threat?

AI has been positioned for years as a tool for automating repetitive tasks. But ChatGPT marks a clear leveling up of AI’s potential for business. Here, Dorothy Crenshaw lays out what ChatGPT is and how it differs from earlier AI tools, complete with a demonstration. PR professionals can use ChatGPT to gain a competitive edge, but it’s important to understand the limitations to the technology. Otherwise, we risk declining professional standards.

  1. What ChatGPT Brings to Public Relations

ChatGPT is a powerful tool – but in PR, we need to use it thoughtfully, and without devaluing human creativity and oversight. When we look at how ad tech and B2B tech businesses use AI for their own benefit, those uses are often well-suited for PR work. Here are some examples of how Cooler Screens and other leading digital brands are making good use of AI, and some recommendations for further reading.

  1. How PR Teams Can Use ChatGPT

It quickly became obvious that ChatGPT would have the power to impact the work of PR and our entire industry. But it was also clear that we have many reasons to feel optimistic about these changes. At Crenshaw, we’ve seen so many valuable PR use cases for ChatGPT – from saving time on routine tasks, to brainstorming ideas and angles, to making video production feasible. Adam Brett shows us seven strong examples of how ChatGPT is empowering PR teams.

The PR insights we’ve gained will certainly be welcome food for though for those aiming to accelerate their teams and their innovation in 2024. Here’s to putting the knowledge to good and constructive use!

Top Newsletters For PR Teams At High-Growth Companies

Back in June, Crenshaw Communications launched its monthly newsletter, offering advice, showcasing Q&As, shining a spotlight on clients, and more. For those who work at high-growth PR firms, newsletters are a valuable tool; after all, in a fast-paced industry like PR, we want to be first to see relevant news. That’s why newsletters are so important. The  best are succinct, informed, and tailored to deliver the freshest content. They’re in a digestible format for offering ideas for media approaches, or insights that can inform a program or sales pitch.

Here are some of the the top newsletters for PR pros who want to be in the know:

Ragan PR Daily

Ragan, a must-know name for anyone working in PR, delivers top news and insights directly to people’s inboxes every day. The PR Daily newsletter provides not just the top headlines of the day, but in-depth insight and strategies for everything from crisis communications to the future of PR. One of its standout features is the ‘Mistakes Spotlight’, which pinpoints common industry errors and guides readers on steering clear of them.


Axios describes its news services as “Smart Brevity®,” and claims it gets readers “smarter, faster on what matters.” That ‘s why it appeals to many people in PR who rely on its different newsletters for the latest headlines tailored to individual sectors or beats. From business to technology to media, Axios delivers the news in a way that’s quick and painless for PR pros to take in.

PRovoke Media

Formerly The Holmes Report, PRovoke Media’s weekly newsletter is a one-stop shop for all the most important PR industry news and opinions. PRovoke sheds light on the latest and greatest PR campaigns, agency mergers, shifts in industry direction, and emerging trends. Whether someone wants to read about valuable case studies, or if they’re an analytical type looking for longer, more in-depth reads, PRovoke offers an extensive understanding of the PR universe. It’s probably the best resource for thought leadership about our business.

Muck Rack Daily

Muck Rack is already a valuable tool for anyone in PR, and their newsletter is perfect for not only daily industry insights/trends, but also keeping tabs on moves in the journalism and media world. Muck Rack Daily updates readers on journalists’ job changes, their top tweets and posts, and stories they share, as well as notable news that trends among reporters on social platforms.


One of the top publications for anything brands and media, Digiday has a wide offering of newsletters on topics such as media, marketing, retail, the workplace and more. As a bonus, they also offer it in Spanish.

Morning Brew 

What better way to start one’s day than with a fresh cup of…news? Morning Brew’s daily newsletter showcases all the business and industry news PR pros need to jumpstart their workday. It’s a great resource for angles to send to clients, newsjacking opportunities, or just a way to be more informed.


PRWeek has plenty of different newsletters that take the pulse on the PR world. From dissecting successful brand strategies to analyzing real-time crisis management, it ensures its readers are never out of the loop. One of its most unique offerings is Weekender Newsletter, delivered on Saturday mornings. For those that think PR never takes a day off, this is an ideal way to recap the week that was, highlighting any major stories, moves and trends both overall and in the PR industry.

Social Media Examiner

Social media is more important now than ever, and PR people need to be on top of the latest social trends to understand the digital landscape. Social Media Examiner provides the latest stories as well as tips that thousands of readers take to heart every day. It’s guaranteed to make one more social-media savvy.


Even for those who don’t represent technology companies, TechCrunch offers something for everyone. From newsletters on startups to nuggets on space, TechCrunch helps explain the evolving landscape in a way that makes it a necessary read no matter what industry one has clients in.

The Skimm

Are you someone who wants your news short and sweet? Do you scroll through long paragraphs of text to get to the TL;DR? Then The Skimm is for you. It presents news in a brief yet easy-to-read format but somehow doesn’t skimp on the details!

In a world with so much information that it can be overwhelming, these essential newsletters can help equip us with the tools, insights, and foresight to navigate the evolving PR landscape. For every B2B PR expert, tech PR specialist, or general PR enthusiast, they are a useful compass that help point us in the right direction.

Crenshaw Communications Joins Digital Marketing Agency Mod Op

“What’s a Mod Op?”

That’s the question I heard from clients, friends, and PR colleagues when I told them that Crenshaw Communications, the PR firm I founded in 2009, had become part of Mod Op, a leading digital marketing and communications agency.

Mod Op is on an impressive growth trajectory and its profile is rising fast, but it’s better known in marketing circles than in the PR business. So, I’ve had to spell the name once or twice. I’ve explained that it hearkens to the Latin modus operandi, which means “way of operating” and implies a distinct approach and commitment to one’s work. In that regard, the name is fitting.

But beyond the name, here is what Crenshaw’s acquisition by Mod Op means to us, our clients, and our future.

An instant expansion of services

As our base of B2B technology clients has grown, they need more than the earned media, executive visibility, and thought leadership positioning our programs provide. While we’ve flirted with adding new offerings and have brought in consultants for specialized needs, there’s nothing like the real thing. As Mod Op, we offer market research, SEO, data insights, website development, creative services, and a whole lot more. This, while maintaining our identity as Mod Op’s strategic business unit for public relations.

A greater depth of talent

In the short time we’ve been part of Mod Op, we’ve been wowed by the depth of talent here. It’s going to take time to get our arms around it, but it’s exciting to be part of this larger team. I feel like I learn something new every day, whether it’s about an amazing client campaign, insights from the AI committee, or just chat about the latest new business pitch. Sharing office space with Mod Op Strategic Consulting (formerly dPrism, a digital transformation consultancy) and learning about their work, which is at the intersection of data, technology, and business, has been fascinating and thought-provoking. It all translates into greater mobility and opportunity for our team and a deeper offering for clients.

An entrepreneurial culture

We’re a small and nimble team, and we represent high-growth businesses that prize independent thinking and proactivity. As a result, we’re an entrepreneurial group. We value that spirit and feel it has been a driver of our growth and success. Although it’s a larger company at over 200 employees, Mod Op’s leadership and culture reflect very similar values.

An eye on the future

Artificial intelligence is changing everything. It’s the biggest inflection point for business transformation, and we have only  begun to realize its potential. Our clients are grappling with its impact and implications, and so are we. We all need top-quality analysis, insights and objective advice to do that. Mod Op’s leadership team was quick to recognize the transformational nature of AI for marketing and PR, and they’re committed to scaling our expertise and our offerings. The agency’s tagline is “Accelerating Growth Through Data, Human Creativity + AI.” They take this mantra seriously.

As a PR team that serves high-growth technology clients, so do we. Mod Op’s emphasis on AI-driven solutions as a complement to human creativity and inspiration resonated because it’s aligned with our thinking. But it invites us on a bigger and broader mission. My partner Chris Harihar has helped drive our growth, in part because he understands the power of technology, especially AI. Our team has developed a reputation as an innovator for that reason.

We joined Mod Op so we can take things to the next level. It’s going to be an exciting trip.

Riding The Mobile Wave: What’s In It For PR?

In the public relations world, keeping up with trends is the name of the game. One game-changer is the surging use of mobile phones, thanks to conveniences like mobile streaming and online shopping right in the palm of our hand. The mobile craze, including a rise in mobile commerce (m-commerce), has advertisers and publishers trying to capitalize on consumerism. But what does this mean for public relations professionals?

The Mobile Surge Means New PR Opportunities

We’re in the age of mobile dominance, and it’s affecting the way consumers absorb content. And as technology advances, readers are gravitating toward websites and platforms that offer a seamless mobile user experience.

For PR teams, this means a whole new playground for getting the word out. It also means we should try to influence our companies and clients to get ahead of the mobile trend with innovations like a website that’s optimized for voice search, or – importantly – a mobile site that is accessible to those with disabilities. More directly, the rising popularity of podcasts and other mobile-centric media channels indicate new storytelling opportunities and platforms for PR.

How Mobile Technology Can Shape PR Strategies and Tactics

PR media placements

Platforms that offer a strong mobile experience are catching everyone’s attention. When strategizing PR placements, it’s essential to prioritize platforms with robust mobile interfaces. At minimum, press releases, blog posts and other PR material need to be optimized for mobile viewing to ensure the message gets through.

Mobile usage also has implications for other content we produce. Short, pithy, and digestible articles and videos, as well as images that pop on a smaller device are now table stakes.

Social commerce

Social commerce is mobile’s latest opportunity. According to a study of 6000 consumers by Global-e online, a majority of both Millennial (54%) and Gen-Z (55%) shoppers say social media is their number one channel for discovering international brands, with Instagram leading as the preferred platform for purchase (62%), followed closely by TikTok. While not all social shopping is done on mobile devices, the addition of one-click pay and the ubiquity of digital wallets have propelled m-commerce. The trend is particularly striking among Millennials and Gen-Zers, who are now reaching adulthood and coming into their spending power. PR teams have a big opportunity to leverage social influencers for not only brand content, but click-to-buy opportunities.

Podcasts and mobile-first media

Podcasts are riding the mobile wave big time. They’re terrific tools for PR teams because they offer a fresh way to spread a PR message, and they tend to be highly targeted. We look at podcasts as a powerful tool for communicating thought leadership by client executives, especially on key topics like building a business culture, management, marketing differentiation, and the like.

Engagement metrics

The mobile era has redefined engagement metrics. Usage and frequency are more important than downloads and installs, for example, and for most campaigns, interaction is the key measure of success. Understanding engagement metrics helps PR and communications professionals recognize the impact of their media placements and campaigns.

Riding The Mobile Advertising Wave

Mobile shopping and streaming are at the forefront of mobile-centric advertising strategies. That’s one reason why AI and ML are emerging as key ways to enhance ad effectiveness and personalization.  While adtech is innovating, there’s a prime opportunity for public relations teams as well. Rather than working in a silo, PR people should lean into adtech advances to create compelling narratives. By integrating PR efforts with modern ad personalization tools, they can not only ride the wave but also shape the future of brand messaging.

Adjusting to the mobile-centric world by analyzing and tweaking PR strategies, making content mobile-friendly, dialing up social influencer campaigns and diving into mobile-first media channels is the way forward. Along the way, it’s time for us to get the hang of the evolving mobile advertising scene and its impact on PR in driving strong brand narratives as we march into the future.

How to Use Threads For B2B PR

As Twitter (now X) declines, and newer social platforms like Bluesky remain exclusive or in beta mode, Meta’s Threads has emerged as a notable social destination for brand PR. Threads initially captured public attention with a rapid growth surge and the promise of being a less divisive alternative to Twitter. It seems promising not only for B2C campaigns, but for the content and thought leadership promotion more typical of B2B PR.

The secret of Threads’ fast growth was its integration with Instagram, which made onboarding seamless for users. Its growth has definitely cooled over the past several weeks, but for PR or comms specialists, it can offer an opportunity to drive engagement, amplify outreach efforts and reach audiences with specific interests.

Threads’ format resembles a blend of Twitter and Instagram. It is very user-friendly and enables concise messaging. However, it still lacks key features, like a content search function. Below are five ways PR professionals can use Threads to maximize their value to clients and grow business.

Thought leadership and brand positioning

For PR and communications specialists, Threads offers a unique platform to establish thought leadership and enhance brand positioning. Its focus on real-time conversations and sharing presents an opportunity to showcase industry expertise through engaging content. Threads’ tight integration with Instagram can leverage visual storytelling, making it ideal for conveying complex ideas in a visually appealing manner. Moreover, its user base, although not as large as some major platforms, is highly engaged, enabling stronger connections with the target audience.

However, the absence of a search function for content makes it challenging to explore and discover specific topics. Unlike other social media platforms, Threads makes it difficult to search for relevant conversations or even trends. The good news about the platform is that it’s already loaded with notable personalities and influencers due to its Instagram origins, yet it’s still catching up in attracting the types of business influencers most B2B brands want to engage or partner with.

Rapid response

According to a recent Capterra study, more than three in four business leaders who have activated crisis communications plans in the past say they’d increase the tools used for communication. Thus, PR professionals should be on the lookout for new tools for rapid-response communications.

Threads can be used to disseminate vital information, address concerns, and maintain transparency during a crisis, and its “softer, gentler” environment might be a welcome change from Twitter or other platforms like Reddit. Its simplicity can also streamline crisis messaging and keep it focused, ensuring a clear and consistent response.

Yet Threads lacks key features such as hashtags and trending stories that define Twitter as a global conversation hub. In an urgent situation, access to trending topics and the ability to use hashtags can amplify the reach and impact of crisis communication efforts.

Community engagement and feedback

When it comes to community engagement and gathering feedback, Threads has the potential to foster meaningful connections with the audience. Its public dialogue-oriented design, resembling Twitter, encourages open conversations and direct interaction with stakeholders. PR specialists can use Threads to conduct surveys, seek feedback, and address community concerns promptly. The platform’s simplicity and visual elements from Instagram can make engagement more appealing.

However, Threads currently lacks features such as customizable alt text for user-posted images, hindering accessibility. Additionally, it does not offer user-generated captions for videos, which can impact engagement for individuals with hearing impairment. Still, Threads offers communications professionals a fresh opportunity to interact and reach new users who were otherwise not present or felt disenfranchised from other social media platforms.

Amplifying campaigns and initiatives

Depending on their intended audience, PR specialists can leverage Threads to amplify campaigns and initiatives. Its user-friendly interface and emphasis on public conversations make it suitable for sharing campaign updates, engaging with supporters, and creating buzz. Threads also provides a direct line of communication to users, fostering a sense of involvement in ongoing initiatives. Additionally, the ability to share multimedia content can enhance storytelling and campaign visibility.

Nonetheless, Threads lacks advanced targeting and analytics features available on other social platforms. PR specialists may find it challenging to tailor their messages to specific audience segments or measure campaign performance with precision. The addition of stronger and more robust targeting and analytics tools by the platform should be an area communications professionals are consistently monitoring for as it will enable more efficient measurements to gauge campaign success.

Building influential partnerships

For PR and communications specialists aiming to build influential partnerships, Threads presents a real opportunity, given its focus on real-time conversations and interactions. Threads’ simplicity also helps in initiating conversations and networking with like-minded professionals.

When incorporated into a communication specialist’s toolkit, it opens a plethora of opportunities to enhance PR strategies and engage high-value audiences. However, Threads still lags behind more established social platforms when it comes to the functionality business users need. It will be important for PR specialists to stay updated on platforms like Threads as it adapts to a rapidly changing media and social environment.

How To Master The Public Apology: PR Tips

It’s not easy to apologize, especially if things unfold in the public eye. As any PR expert knows, there’s an art to the public mea culpa.

After announcing that her show would resume production despite the Writers Guild of America strike, Drew Barrymore issued a tearful, 5-minute video apologizing for her decision, but seeming to stand by it. Barrymore was harshly criticized for the statement, which has since been deleted, and she ultimately walked back the commitment to resume the show.

A few days later, Colorado representative Lauren Boebert found herself in a PR corner after being escorted out of a Denver theater after creating a disturbance. Boebert initially denied that she had been vaping from her seat, among other questionable activities, but security video proved otherwise. She then issued a statement of apology blaming her actions on her recent divorce, saying that she “fell short of her values.” It was a hamhanded and somewhat baffling response that seemed to skirt the real issue.

Here, then are some guidelines for an effective public apology.

Be clear and concise

This is where Drew Barrymore went a bit wrong. She intended her speech as a way of taking responsibility for her decision and not hiding behind a PR representative. But the video was a bit repetitive, self-involved, and unclear. If you stick with it, you see she offered a reason for her decision — that many jobs depend on her show. But because she spent too much time proclaiming that “there was no PR machine” instead of getting to the point, it came across as defensive and out of touch. And no one wants to watch a five-minute video when 45 seconds will do it.

Be sincere

It’s hard to challenge the sincerity of Barrymore’s video, and video is an excellent medium for conveying real remorse. Her tearful manner and unvarnished, no-makeup appearance lend credence to her words – we believe she’s genuinely upset. But as the statement continues, she begins to repeat herself and tries too hard to justify her decision. A better example of sincerity in action is the 2020 video posted by YouTube pioneer Jenna Marbles. Marbles won a generally positive reaction when she explained her decision to quit her YouTube channel in a farewell statement that took responsibility for offensive videos she had made years prior. It’s quite long at 11 minutes, but a controlled and quiet example of a near-perfect public apology.

Explain but don’t excuse

It’s sometimes helpful to explain the mistake or misbehavior, especially if it’s relevant to the perception of wrong. In early 2022, amid a sudden and serious shortage of infant formula, Abbott Laboratories CEO Robert Ford published a Washington Post editorial explaining how a voluntary recall of product from one facility after a bacteria scare exacerbated the supply shortage. The information was useful and relevant, but the Ford’s op-ed mainly succeeded because it outlined the plan to get formula back on store shelves. Any explanation must acknowledge the harm done and convey a sense of responsibility rather than an excuse.

Take responsibility

The epitome of the weasel-word apology is the awkwardly passive “mistakes were made” cliche, which, believe it or not, you can still find in corporate communications statements. This tenet can be tricky, especially when it comes to a serious situation involving injury or death. If there’s a risk of liability, attorneys will always counsel against a statement that assumes responsibility for harm. But in the court of public opinion, holding yourself or the organization accountable is often the most powerful thing you can do.

Fix the problem

Or try to. The Abbott Labs apology was effective in part because Ford shares a plan for solving the baby formula supply crisis. It’s clear he intends to fix the problem. The original model for the apology fix might be JetBlue’s “Passenger Bill of Rights”, which then-CEO David Neeleman promoted in a national media tour after a public fiasco. When an ice storm hit the East Coast, the airline cancelled 1000 flights in five days, and when passengers tried to rebook, its operations systems collapsed. The result was that 130,000 travelers were stranded, triggering a bitter backlash. Yet Neeleman’s public apology, coupled with the thoughtful set of commitments for the future, managed to challenge the entire category and position JetBlue as an industry leader rather than just another beleaguered player.

Remember, it’s not about you

Whether it’s a corporation or an entertainment personality, a self-involved apology is a turn-off. Both Drew Barrymore and Rep. Boebert strayed into indulgent territory in their respective statements. Barrymore repeated her self-justifications multiple times, which communicated the opposite of what she wanted to say. Boebert brought up her divorce as a potential excuse for her behavior, then referenced her own “values” which seemed to aggrandize the situation. It’s far better to keep it short and sweet, and most importantly, to address those who were aggrieved or harmed rather than focusing on justifications or excuses.

How To Tap The PR Power Of Employer Branding

As a PR firm focused on high-growth technology companies, we always ask prospective clients about their goals. Most say they want to build visibility to attract more customers, or to gain a competitive advantage in their sector. Lately, however, they prioritize another goal that’s at least as important as adding partners or even customers — recruiting the best workers.

Despite layoffs at major tech employers, it’s still a buyer’s market for many jobs. Attracting and retaining top talent is a huge challenge for any business, but it’s a distinct competitive advantage among high-growth tech companies — if they can manage it.  The current labor market has elevated the importance of “employer branding” – the perception of a company as an employer among prospective workers. The good news is that PR-driven tactics can help a business build and communicate a positioning that prioritizes the well-being of their workers and a commitment to their industry and community.

The changing landscape of employer branding

Employer branding used to mean a reputation for offering competitive compensation and benefits. Now, those are table stakes. Today’s professionals  – especially those in the Gen Z cohort —  are looking for more than just a job. They want a workplace that aligns with their values, supports their growth, responds to their needs, and contributes positively to the community. These demands mean that companies must strategically position themselves as not just profit-driven entities, but as organizations that genuinely care about their employees’ well-being and the greater good.

According to Gartner’s 2023 Future of Work report, many organizations just aren’t keeping up with what workers want. “The intent to leave or stay in a job is only one of the things that people are questioning as part of the larger human story we are living,” says Caitlin Duffy, Gartner HR Practice Research Director. “You could call it the ‘Great Reflection.’ It’s critical to deliver value and purpose.” 

How the right PR plan drives an employer brand

The right PR strategy can help differentiate an organization as a great place to work. And one of the most effective PR-driven tactics is to enhance visibility for C-level business leaders — the executives that serve as the face and voice of the organization. When high-ranking officers actively engage with the public, share their personal experiences, and discuss the company’s values and initiatives, it humanizes the brand. Executives can use social platforms like LinkedIn to share thoughts on industry issues and workplace values. But most PR programs will supplement the social elements with additional content and other tactics that drive thought leadership. They can include op-ed pieces, bylined articles, conference speaking engagements, and profiles in business and trade press to showcase their commitment to employees. This human touch fosters a sense of trust and relatability among potential candidates.

Third-party recognition builds credibility

Recognition by third parties adds credibility to an organization’s claims of being an employer of choice. PR teams often include strategies that include awards like “Best Places to Work” to validate the company’s efforts to create a positive work environment. Inclusion on such lists showcases the company’s commitment to employee satisfaction, diversity and inclusion, or employee growth. And PR can further leverage the recognition by sharing it through press releases, social media content, and internal and external company communication channels. All help amplify the positive narrative to reach top talent at the time when they’re thinking of making a move, or when they’re researching the organization.

Celebrate employee success

Highlighting the achievements and contributions of both employees and executive leadership can also enhance a company’s brand as an employer. Recognizing outstanding employees for innovation, collaboration, or community involvement not only boosts their morale but also demonstrates the company’s commitment to nurturing talent. By showcasing executives’ personal involvement in philanthropic or volunteer activities or community projects, the company reinforces its commitment to making a positive impact beyond the bottom line.

Authenticity is essential

For an employer branding strategy to succeed, the organization’s brand and values must align. Potential candidates will quickly spot superficial claims that stand in for genuine commitment. Companies should focus on defining their values and weaving them into all aspects of the organization, from hiring processes to employee development initiatives. This alignment ensures that the employer branding efforts are not just PR stunts, but a true reflection of the company’s ethos.

In a competitive talent market, standing out as an employer of choice takes a long-term approach that goes beyond traditional recruitment methods. When it’s based on the true alignment of brand and values, PR-driven employer branding can build a compelling identity that attracts, engages, and retains the future leadership needed for sustainable success in today’s marketplace, whether in technology or elsewhere.

5 Essentials For PR Campaigns Tied To Holidays

Holidays can bring a powerful opportunity for PR teams to elevate the brands they represent and engage with key audiences. However, in the rush to capitalize on the news value of holidays – from Halloween to Veteran’s Day and Christmas – it’s easy to make mistakes.

By recognizing potential pitfalls and using a strategic approach, any PR team can elevate their campaigns, amplify brand visibility, and generate tangible earned media results throughout the calendar year. But it pays to adhere to the following rules of engagement when leveraging holidays for PR purposes.

Set clear goals and metrics

Any holiday is likely to be a competitive time, so it’s essential to set clear objectives and key performance metrics (KPIs). Without a full understanding of what they aim to achieve, the PR holiday campaign can lack direction and focus. That, in turn, will result in missed opportunities and suboptimal outcomes.

For example, is a Thanksgiving-themed opportunity meant to align a brand or service with that holiday to drive seasonal sales? Or, is it a campaign to position a business as a caring member of the community? And, yes, it can be both, but multiple objectives can mean the goals are diluted and the budget is strained. It’s important for PR teams to set goals and metrics from the onset to keep the brand aligned to the objectives.

Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or boosting sales, it’s instrumental to establish specific and achievable goals. Identify relevant metrics such as social media engagement, website conversions, or revenue attributed to earned coverage. Regularly monitor and analyze metrics to assess the effectiveness of the campaign and make data-driven adjustments as needed.

Dive into research and audience analysis

Each holiday brings unique associations, cultural nuances, and evolving consumer preferences. Neglecting to study the target audience can result in misalignment with target demographics and ineffective messaging. For example, New York declared Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, a state holiday, and new legislation proposes to make it our twelfth federal holiday. But because this is new, PR pros need to consider how to align with Diwali and promote it with sensitivity and focus. Otherwise, they risk excluding a subsection of their target audience.

They should start with a deep dive into the target audience’s preferences, demographics, and psychographics. The research serves as a foundation for messaging that resonates with their interests and aspirations. Perhaps for a sustainability company looking at green lighting options, a holiday like Diwali could be leveraged for PR. The company can promote how to mark the holiday in a more sustainable way, considering low-wattage string lights, for example. Personalized content should speak directly to the holiday experiences of the intended audience. By understanding their needs and values, PR people can create campaigns that resonate deeply, establish a meaningful connection and drive engagement.

Avoid misaligned messaging 

One of the most common failures of holiday PR campaigns is misaligned or unclear messaging. Holidays evoke specific emotions, values, and traditions. Neglecting these elements can result in a dissonance that fails to resonate with the audience. For example, a campaign centered around a holiday like Veterans Day might be out-of-sync with a B2B company trying to promote software without a bridge that connects the two entities. If the company is making a 20% donation based on new clients acquired at the end of November to support the Wounded Warrior Project® because the founder is a veteran, that would make sense. The PR plan must include messaging that reflects the holiday spirit and aligns with its meaning.

PR programs must tailor messaging to evoke appropriate emotions and reflect the holiday’s values. Ensuring content, visuals, and storytelling align with the theme and spirit of the occasion are essential.

Timing is everything

A common mistake in holiday PR campaigns is the failure to plan and execute well in advance. Especially for long-tail holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s a bustling time for businesses, consumers, and the media. Competing for attention in a crowded marketplace requires careful planning and execution. PR people must be mindful of planning now for the holiday season so the last-minute scramble is minimized and valuable opportunities for coverage and exposure aren’t missed. For example, many brands are capitalizing on the new Barbie movie and betting that Barbie will still be hot by the fourth quarter. From back-to-school season through Halloween and Christmas, brands relevant to Barbie should be thinking now about creative ways to capitalize on Barbie-mania. Or, technology brands might plan now for ways to integrate with Google’s Santa Tracker, which in 2021 shared its code with developers to inspire them to create their own “magical experiences.”

A good PR plan includes a detailed timeline and identifies key milestones like content creation, media outreach, and social media promotions. Allocating sufficient resources and setting realistic deadlines to ensure the plan is well-executed and aligned with media and consumer timelines will go a long way in creating a memorable and effective campaign.

By avoiding common mistakes leveraging holidays, PR teams can ensure that campaigns connect with their target audiences and leave a lasting impact to support business results.

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PR Strategies For Disruptive Technologies

Disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and others are constantly reshaping various industries. But these paradigm-shifting innovations often face skepticism, misunderstanding, and controversy. Why? Their very nature is transformative, and that can be unsettling. Here’s where a thoughtful yet robust public relations (PR) strategy can help address predictable reaction.

Disruptive tech and the role of PR

In a shifting tech landscape, innovation gives way to new and complex products that can be difficult for the average person to grasp. The challenge that any new technology faces is explaining the full implications of its tech once unleashed.

Disruptive tech needs a clear and credible voice to explain its benefits and ensure acceptance of its possibilities. A well-designed PR strategy should be that voice. A primary role is translating tech-speak into a language that resonates with diverse audiences, from industry experts to lawmakers and end users.

Yet, the challenges extend beyond mere comprehension. As disruptive technologies aim to overturn the status quo, they often challenge entrenched systems. This sparks resistance to adoption and may even stir up controversy. A strategic PR approach can help navigate these choppy waters, shifting the focus from problems to solutions and value. It can create transparency, clarify uncertainties, and transform potential crises into platforms for constructive dialogue.

Also, early stages of a technology are rarely smooth sailing; bugs, glitches, and unexpected issues are inevitable. In the face of these complications, the PR plan should prepare for setbacks. It needs to set the larger narrative, emphasizing solutions and progress rather than dwelling on hurdles.

PR and emerging tech: blockchain, metaverse, AI

Several disruptive technologies have benefited from strategic PR over the past decade.

Take blockchain, for example. Initially, it was tied to the volatility of cryptocurrencies, with its broader potential often overshadowed. The challenge was to unravel the complexity of the technology and disassociate it from crypto. PR played a pivotal role by enlightening audiences about the wider applications of blockchain – from supply chain management to healthcare – thus fostering increased acceptance and adoption.

Similarly, artificial intelligence (AI) has seen its share of controversy. Concerns about job losses, privacy breaches, and ethical use are widespread. However, the public dialogue has moved to the benefits of AI –  improved efficiency, predictive capabilities, and beyond. The PR and comes teams representing Open AI, Google, and other companies have been careful to engage with the challenges and potential solutions.

Consider the recent innovations around generative AI. These AI systems – capable of creating new, meaningful content – have started to play a significant role in fields like journalism, professional services, banking, marketing and content creation. Ultimately, the challenge for PR and communications is to highlight the ways these AI systems can enhance human creativity, rather than replace it, while alleviating fears of an apocalyptic robot uprising.

Where PR falls short

Even the best PR program is limited, however. The idea of the Metaverse, a virtual reality space where users interact in a computer-generated environment, gained attention very quickly only a year ago but is now largely declared “dead.” The technology’s numerous challenges, such as defining and enforcing ethical guidelines in an entirely new dimension, mass adoption, and differentiation, loom as a counterpoint to PR’s power to inform. Despite efforts to help guide the conversation, the reality of the Metaverse hasn’t yet matched the tech world’s vision for it.

Finally, let’s not overlook Extended Reality (XR), an umbrella term for all immersive technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR). With the potential to revolutionize industries from gaming to healthcare, XR technology carries huge promise. For PR, the task is to highlight these opportunities while navigating the hurdles related to privacy, access, and hardware requirements.

Navigating PR for disruptive B2B technologies

The B2B tech PR perspective presents its own set of challenges as it pertains to disruptive technologies. PR teams must not only engage the general public but also connect with industry subject matter experts (SMEs), potential partners, and business stakeholders. These audiences demand a higher degree of understanding and sophistication in communications.

A pressing challenge in B2B tech PR is communicating technical complexity in simple terms. This takes a commitment to ongoing learning, staying current, and articulating the impact of new developments in a business context relevant to users.

Skepticism and resistance are inevitable, as disruptive technologies often threaten established systems. PR strategies must strike a delicate balance—highlighting the benefits of the tech while addressing concerns and potential downsides in an open, transparent manner.

PR strategies for disruptive tech

To successfully communicate the value of emerging technologies, PR teams can adapt several strategies and tactics.

Nuanced storytelling: Crafting a compelling narrative around the technology can engage audiences, humanize the innovation, and underscore its transformative potential.

Opinion leadership: Positioning a company or its leaders as authorities or opinion-leaders in the field of emerging or disruptive tech allows for transparency and knowledge-sharing. By sharing insights, forecasts, and expert commentary, companies can build credibility and spark conversation around the technology.

Media relations: Regular interaction with relevant media outlets and influencers allows PR people to extend messaging reach, ensure participation in pertinent discussions, and provide a platform for addressing any controversies or misunderstandings.

Proactivity and agility: Given the swift pace of developments in the tech sector, PR teams need to stay ahead of the curve, anticipating potential issues and being ready to adjust their strategies promptly.

How to keep up

In a world where tech advancements often outpace public understanding, a sound PR strategy is crucial. PR helps navigate the challenges linked to new technologies, from ensuring comprehension and managing controversy, to addressing technical and product-based pitfalls. It can shape the narrative around disruptive technologies, empowering them to unlock their transformative potential.

The task of navigating the technology is intricate, however. It takes careful planning, continuous learning, and an open and curious mind. As we continue to see new disruptive technologies, PR will remain a central player, directing the conversation and guiding innovations toward successful integration into our daily lives and businesses.