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8 PR and comms trends for 2024 you need to know ahead of CNY

8 PR and comms trends for 2024 you need to know ahead of CNY

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As we usher in the Lunar New Year of 2024, the world of public relations is buzzing with new trends and changes.

This promising start brings with it the promise of innovation, from AI shaking up content creation to the ever-growing need for keeping it real. In the spirit of renewal and prosperity that defines the Lunar New Year, let’s explore eight key trends poised to shape an intriguing year ahead.

1. More AI content generation

Of course, AI-generated content is the No. 1 pre-eminent trend of 2024. Many of us have embraced AI tools for their role in making us more efficient and ideate better. AI probably won’t replace PR any time soon.

AI content creation tools such as Bard and Magic Studio have become indispensable for brainstorming, coming up with new story angles, and getting over writer’s block. Their appeal lies in their user-friendliness and minimal learning curve, making them accessible to a broad spectrum of users. These tools enhance productivity, allowing creators to devote more time to refining ideas and narratives where human ingenuity is key.

Yet we need to approach AI in PR with caution. The Daily Telegraph has established guidelines for AI-generated content while The Guardian is emphasising transparency in human-produced journalism. These measures reflect an industry-wide effort to balance the use of AI with ethical considerations and journalistic integrity.

But AI’s role also goes beyond creating content; it’s invaluable in analysing data, providing real-time insights, and assisting in strategy development. For beginners, it’s essential to remember that AI-generated information may not always be completely accurate, which means you’ll need to review.

2. Greater authenticity

Let’s be real. AI has made the need for authenticity more important than ever in 2024. In a time where AI use is on the rise and the world is rife with misinformation, the ability to project genuine and trustworthy content will be your key differentiator. Authentic PR is not just a strategy; it’s the foundation to build long-lasting relationships with clients and the public by fostering trust and credibility.

With more fake news and AI content around, we need more than ever to adhere to ethical practices and make sure that the data and news we put out are both accurate and ethically sourced. AI must be used to augment—not replace—human engagement. It’s therefore important for companies to align their communications with their core values and vision to make sure their messaging reflects their identity and ethos.

3. Combating disinformation

The proliferation of AI technology also threatens to directly impact the digital ecosystem making 2024 a year where synthetic media, deep fakes, disinformation and misinformation will flourish to a level never seen before.

While most big businesses have always prioritised crisis readiness and preparedness, there will be new pressure on businesses to invest more resources and expertise in combating disinformation, which has the power to make or break a company.

A comms team will need to have a wherewithal to detect fake news, an understanding of how disinformation spreads online, how the narrative needs to be changed and the best way to leverage all possible touch points. There are multiple tools and technology available to combat disinformation such as TinEye, Whois and Google Fact Check Tools. In 2024 we are likely to see an uptake on the development and application of these tools and platforms.

4. Social media

The continued evolution of social media continues to redefine PR strategies going into 2024. Already significant, LinkedIn, TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter), and increasingly, Threads, have become even more essential than ever. These platforms are stages for exhibiting thought leadership content and forging relationships with media and customers.

Social media in PR has two roles. First, as a direct communication channel and second, as a means for real-time engagement. It's no longer enough to solely aim for media placement; a robust presence on platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Threads and Twitter is vital. These platforms are instrumental in enabling individuals and businesses to establish themselves as thought leaders in their fields. Making original content, active article publication, and engagement in online discussions are key to building a strong, recognisable brand.

As we move further into 2024, we will see brands becoming more selective about the platforms they use, prioritising quality over quantity. This is in response to the need for more meaningful engagement with audiences, rather than spreading efforts thinly across too many platforms.

5. Longer form content

We’re also seeing an emerging trend towards long-form content, as consumers seek out in-depth, meaningful content that provides greater value than the fleeting interactions typical of shorter formats. There’s a growing appetite for substantial discussions and well-researched pieces that offer insights and in-depth analysis, further emphasising the importance of thought leadership in today's digital landscape.

6. Data driven PR

The industry has long been shifting towards a more analytical approach. This involves the tracking of mentions, performance analysis, and measurement of outcomes. Such data-driven insights allow for real-time fine-tuning of strategies, facilitating more informed decision-making processes.

Such an approach not only strengthens relationships with target audiences through a deeper understanding of demographic nuances, but also reassures stakeholders of a measurable return on investment.

Amidst ongoing economic challenges, the pressure is growing on PR professionals to demonstrate the tangible impact of their work. By harnessing the power of data, they are equipped to build stronger connections, cater to specific audience needs, and secure better budgets. This, in turn, significantly boosts their brand's visibility in the media landscape.

7. Geopolitics and PR

Geopolitics and continued political instability will impact public affairs and PR in more ways than we can imagine. A recent survey conducted by Page among communications leaders pinpointed geopolitics as the foremost risk to business for the year ahead. The year 2024 will see an estimated 4.2 billion individuals going to the polls. Coupled with the Palestine-Israel conflict and the war in Ukraine, these events are likely to exert significant pressures on countries and governments, thereby directly impacting businesses. In response, multinational businesses will need to prioritise three critical areas of communications: internal communications, crisis management and government relations.

8. Rise of boutique agencies

As client budgets tighten worldwide, we may observe a shift in the prominence of various types of PR agencies. While network agencies will continue to manage large multi-market accounts, there’s an emerging trend at the grassroots level where boutique agencies or independent consultants are becoming more attractive to brands.

Niche, boutique agencies, helmed by senior talent, could provide customised solutions at more affordable rates. In a post-Covid era, we’ve seen a surge in senior PR professionals embracing entrepreneurship or becoming solopreneurs with niche, flexible offerings. Conversely, we could see greater consolidation amongst multinational PR agencies, as exemplified by the recent merger between BCW and H&K.

So, stay adaptable

No one can predict what’s in store for the coming year. That’s why it’s crucial to remain flexible, welcome new ideas, and consistently aim for authentic interactions. May the auspiciousness of the Lunar New Year inspire us to navigate these trends and redefine the essence of impactful communication.

This article was written by Asiya Bakht, founder and Herman Cheng at Beets Public Relations. 

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