As the world hurtles into the future, public relations is evolving unprecedentedly. The landscape that PR professionals navigate today vastly differs from what it was a decade ago, and the changes keep coming. Here are the top 10 trends to watch for in 2024.
1.The Everlasting Era of Virtual Events
The COVID-19 pandemic gave birth to a new normal in PR: the rise of virtual events. However, what's intriguing is that even as the pandemic loosens its grip, virtual events remain a preferred choice for the media.
Why? Convenience and accessibility. Virtual events offer an attractive option for journalists to participate in a fast-paced world where schedules are tight, and travel isn't always feasible. In-person events remain valuable, but virtual ones offer broader accessibility, ensuring the media can easily engage.
2. Compelling and Impactful Storytelling
Gone are the days of spraying email pitches far and wide, hoping something sticks. Journalists now gravitate towards personalized pitches aligning with their beats and interests. The art of quality pitching means understanding what audiences want to read right now and crafting angles that resonate on a deeper level.
In the digital age, where news travels faster than ever, PR professionals must be in tune with global events and viral social media trends. Capitalizing on current events and social media buzz is paramount in creating pitches that capture the public's imagination. It's about leveraging PR's emotional and social impact to tell compelling stories.
3. Synergizing AI & PR
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become indispensable in the PR professional's toolkit. While it's not about blindly copying and pasting content from AI models, it does offer a powerful way to refine campaign strategies, brainstorm unique pitching angles, and generate initial pitching language. The use of AI enhances both efficiency and creativity in PR work.
4. The Age of Authenticity
PR has always revolved around integrity, honesty, and authenticity. These values are more crucial than ever in an era of information saturation. Brands must have a clear mission, embody strong values, and actively contribute to society to build trust.
The role of influencers can help connect with today's discerning audience. Regardless of whether they have a vast social media following, influencers go beyond earned media to engage in content creation partnerships, event hosting, and product promotions. Influencers are pivotal in capturing the essence of a brand.
"A big trend we continue to see is working with influencers across all industries, including hospitality, culinary, tourism, CPG brands, lifestyle brands, and more,” states Jennifer Sinski, Executive Vice President, Giant Noise giantnoise.com. “Influencers can also be 'people of influence' in their community, not just people with a high following on social platforms like Instagram or TikTok. We're finding that earned media is never the entire strategy, and influencers come into play with content creation partnerships, inviting influencers to client events or to serve as hosts at events, and to gift products directly."
5. Adapting to Change
The PR and media industries have seen their share of upheaval recently. Job losses have been an unfortunate reality. Media outlets are now leaning more toward freelance writers and contributors. PR professionals should seize this change, fostering relationships with freelancers and adapting to a dynamic media landscape.
In an era of economic uncertainty, brands align more closely with their PR departments to ensure their marketing budget goes further. Collaboration between PR, social media, and marketing teams results in more effective and impactful campaigns year-round.
6. Expanding Reach
While digital media continues to dominate the industry and securing a feature in a top-tier online publication remains a PR milestone, diversification is critical in 2024. PR efforts should extend into podcasts, newsletters, and collaborations with influencers to increase brand awareness among a broader and more varied audience.
In addition, affiliate partnerships will continue to thrive in 2024. Publications now strongly recommend brands join affiliate platforms to stand out as competition grows.
7. The Crossroads of PR and Internal Communications
According to Preston Lewis, CEO, Intactic.com, the line between public relations and internal communications is becoming increasingly blurred. Companies that successfully integrate customer, candidate, and employee messaging are the most attractive to all stakeholders.
8. The Surge of Contributed and Sponsored Stories
The surge in contributed content is familiar, but 2024 is poised to bring more requests and opportunities for such content. Clients gain more control over their content, while publications can focus on other matters.
"I have already seen this trend starting to take place in late 2023 for many of my clients who engage in thought leadership or expert commentary, states Brooke Qilafi, Founder of Qilafi Public Relations. "Publicists should be ready to help their clients prepare, edit, and finalize more content. Along with this trend, I expect an uptick in sponsored content for product placement and thought leadership.
9. Unconventional Partnerships
To stand out in the competitive landscape, brands explore unique partnerships, bridging different audiences and capitalizing on pop culture moments. These innovative collaborations offer exciting opportunities to break through the noise and tell compelling stories.
"With the rise of crazy activations and partnerships that connect two very different audiences (e.g., Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce), brands will begin seeking those big-shot, pie-in-the-sky opportunities to break through the noise, tell their story, and capitalize on pop culture," states Todd Graff, Senior Vice President of CTP.
10. Tone of Communication
Given the ongoing global military conflicts and the anticipated challenges of 2024, brands should advise clients and associates to emphasize the importance of grace, sensitivity, and dignity. At the same time, there's a growing need for a more uplifting and positive tone in our societal discourse.
As we journey into 2024, the field of public relations continues to evolve and adapt. Staying at the forefront of these trends, embracing new tools, and being nimble in the face of change will be vital for PR professionals. The year ahead promises challenges and opportunities, and those prepared to navigate this dynamic landscape will find themselves on the path to success.