December 22, 2023
In the ever-evolving realm of public relations, staying ahead of the curve is essential for success. As we approach 2024, it’s crucial for PR agencies to not only be aware of emerging trends, but to strategically incorporate them into their, and their clients’, communication strategies. Dive into the trends shaping the PR and communications industries below:
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in PR
AI is no longer a futuristic concept but a present reality. AI tools and algorithms are revolutionizing data analysis, trend forecasting, and even content creation. Automated content generation tools, driven by advanced algorithms, are streamlining content creation and the personalization of materials. These tools can analyze audience preferences, tailor content to specific demographics, and optimize language for maximum impact.
Although AI can be a lifesaver in a time crunch, it eliminates the authenticity that consumers often desire. When AI and PR professionals work together, however, the possibilities are endless.
(P.S. If you’re new to all things AI, read our recent post on how and how NOT to use AI.)
2. Interactive Content to Engage Audiences
Interactive content has recently been capturing audiences’ attention. From polls and quizzes to immersive experiences, PR pros can leverage interactive content to create memorable and participatory brand experiences. By inviting audiences to take part in shaping the narrative through polls, PR professionals not only capture attention but can also gain real-time insights into the ever-shifting dynamics of public opinion. Experiential marketing is another facet of the interactive content phenomenon; whether it’s a virtual tour of a company’s facilities or an augmented reality product demonstration, these immersive experiences elevate storytelling to new heights.
3. The Power of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing continues to be a driving force in consumer decision-making. However, the focus is shifting towards authentic partnerships with micro and nano influencers who have more genuine connections with their audiences. Their niche focus, whether it be in a specific industry or a particular area of interest, builds a sense of trust and authenticity that can be challenging to achieve on a larger scale. Building long-term relationships with influencers aligning with a brand’s values can amplify the impact of PR campaigns. The vast array of social media platforms can make choosing an influencer challenging; there are many factors to consider before choosing a celebrity that will be right for the brand. The 3 R’s tactic, or Relevance, Reach, and Resonance, are three strategic elements to consider when deciding on an influencer fit for the company at hand.
4. Expanded Outreach
Traditional PR tactics, although useful, are now not the only means of communication used to get messages to your desired audiences. In conjunction with a press release or newsletter, PR professionals should employ new forms of outreach in their PR plans. For instance, podcasts have become a new rising form of entertainment in the past couple of years, offering PR practitioners the opportunity to tap into an audience that may prefer to listen rather than read. Whether through thought-leadership interviews or behind-the-scenes glimpses into a company’s culture, podcasts offer an authentic and intimate connection to audiences, something consumers are increasingly seeking. PR pros can leverage podcasts to showcase the human side of brands and organizations, which can foster a sense of connection that helps lower the digital divide. Using different mediums for communication to share your message will generate new audiences, leading to more business opportunities in the future.
5. Prioritizing Corporate Responsibility
People search for and support brands that are determined to make social responsibility a priority. Devotion to corporate social responsibility (CSR), diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and corporate environmental responsibility (CER) are all characteristics consumers stay up to date on to determine whether or not they will support an organization.
The fear of being ‘canceled’ is an anxiety all PR professionals face within this industry. It is important to stay ahead of potential crises by familiarizing yourself with the current socioeconomic landscape. Specifically, brands should find an issue that aligns with their morals and values or target audience to become an advocate for the cause. However, once a brand picks an issue, it must commit to being an advocate for the cause. The consumer will see right through the brand if it proclaims it is an advocate and then does nothing.
6. More In-Person Events
Thankfully, the month-long isolations from the pandemic are over, and in-person events are booming more than ever. People look forward to gathering together again for events, allowing PR professionals to take advantage of their excitement. Gathering for an in-person event is much more beneficial than talking through a Zoom screen. Face-to-face conversations can leave lasting impressions by building brand credibility and authenticity, and they also create networking opportunities, foster connections, and build relationships. The event itself is a profitable PR opportunity; in-person events can result in media coverage before and following the event.
7. Video Content Has Taken Over the Internet
Recently, social media apps have adopted TikTok’s “For You Page” onto their platforms because of its popularity amongst users. For instance, YouTube has created “YouTube Shorts,” Instagram now has “Instagram Reels,” and Snapchat now has “Spotlights.” People have shifted from engaging with only picture-based content, to also engaging with video-based content, specifically these short videos. In 2023, 75% of viewers watch these shorter videos and have watched up to 17 hours worth of this content per week. Brands have become aware of this shift in social media user entertainment preferences and have taken note of implementing new strategies to attract this audience. They are making themselves known, especially on TikTok, by posting videos in line with current trends and commenting on viral videos to gain traction toward their account. This hidden marketing tactic will continue in the new year as it has been deemed successful for brand recognition. Brands have created short video advertisements to post on these platforms, either using influencer marketing, authentic marketing, or posting someone from the brand using the product, or using the traditional marketing means we are used to, just posting to social media in this format. Unlike the traditional advertising techniques that we have scrolled past, turned off, or essentially dismissed in the past; users enjoy this new style of advertisement. Short-video marketing tactics are seen as more authentic than an edited video. Users enjoy watching a short video of either the brand or influencer using the product in a real-life scenario, reading comments about other people’s opinions, and seeing the product in the hands of an influencer they trust.
8. Data-Driven PR Decisions
Data is one of the best tools a PR professional has at their fingertips; it can generate solutions to the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, why, and even how! Data-driven PR decisions utilize data garnered from market research that help determine PR and marketing strategies. Surveys, focus groups, and other market research strategies can give insight into the best solutions for brands that are struggling in their industries.
As previously explained, diversifying your PR outreach is a great way to further connect with target audiences. An increase in brand awareness results in an increase in consumer or user data and the opportunity to use data to understand the statistics of a business. For instance, from data collected by social media apps, brands can learn what platforms are more popular, what their target demographic is, what style of content is most popular, and more. Social media platforms provide these analytics for your page and posts to track engagement behaviors, preferences of content or platforms, and others that will help a brand thrive. These analytics can also help brands determine a business strategy; for example, they will better understand ROI, determine if something is leading to a potential crisis, and have access to overall impressions. Using data can be one of the most beneficial ways to gain insight into the best next steps for a brand.
The PR world has evolved from its traditional routes; changing technology, new platform opportunities, and both internal and external operations unveil a new definition of PR compared to the past. PR professionals have already experienced some of these trends in 2023 and will continue to in 2024. Utilizing these trends should be a part of all PR strategic communication plans to ensure every brand, business, and organization is knowledgeable about these PR opportunities and is set up for success in 2024.