In the world of work, 2023 has been largely perceived as an annus mirabilis. For observers, the year will be remembered as one that consciously set in motion the future of work, with the emergence of ChatGPT disruptively defining the landscape of what is to come before long. It is more of a fact to conclude that the subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI) constituted part of the hottest topics discussed across boardrooms in 2023.
Since the gradual demise of the COVID-19 pandemic, AI and machine learning have been continuously touted as inescapable cogs in the wheel of the next industrial revolution – a dispensation that is tacitly upon us. However, this year we found out that the evolving presence of machines around us coincided with the exponential growth of Public Relations (PR). Indeed, most brands that stood out and made the morning headlines this year because of PR did so with the support of machines. Despite that, there is no way we can forget the brilliant human minds that made it all possible.
With 2024 in the offing, experts and observers have begun to speculate on trends to look out for in the new year. As the best PR Agency in Africa, here are a few trends in Public Relations you should pay attention to in 2024.
- High Dependence on AI Technology
Artificial intelligence is here to stay, and its impact in the coming year and beyond is expected to be massive. More AI projects are currently in the works, and it will be unsurprising to feel their presence next year.
Many brands have already started speculating how they intend to incorporate AI into their scheme of work. In 2024, the concepts of speed, efficiency, and accuracy will be increasingly analyzed by companies heavily reliant on AI. Existing technological frameworks in PR will expand even further, prompting new levels of competition in the industry.
2. The Humanistic Approach
While most brands will sacrifice their responsibilities on the altar of AI in 2024, others will continue to stick their guns in existing and makeshift PR designs. There is a sense that the humanistic approach will gather more momentum despite the imminent seismic shift in technology.
Originality and authenticity will remain the bedrock of some brands, and the focus on the ‘users’ framework will intensify. The strategic application of empathy, mind-mapping, and storytelling will make up some of the most potent human-centered PR strategies in 2024
3. Law of the Few
When Malcolm Gladwell analyzed the concept of the Law of the Few in his bestselling book – The Tipping Point – only a few brands at the time understood the importance of investing in influencers as a PR mechanism to drive business growth.
As Gladwell puts it, the Law of the Few translates to the success of any kind of social epidemic, heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare social gift. This is what we call influencer marketing today. Well, big brands like Nike and Adidas had begun using the approach as a go-to publicity stunt as far back as the 1950s.
In 2023, the return on investment (ROI) on influencers increased tremendously, signaling its importance in contemporary PR and Marketing. There is every indication that a great many brands will tow the path of incorporating influencers into their PR and growth strategies in 2024 and beyond.
4. Smart Storytelling over Traditional Storytelling
As with recent years, storytelling will still be considered an all-important aspect for driving brand identity and popularity in the coming year.
But with the markets saturated with all sorts of stories, attention-grabbing tales for brands in 2024 will be driven by smart narratives and fact-based anecdotes. This will include key elements such as the use of data, stirring languages, and resonating tones to craft stories that will engage and compel the target audience.
5. Social Media
Brands will continue to leverage their online reputation management and will likely invest more in social media presence in 2024. This year, several unknown brands grew in stature and influence because of social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram were considered the most active social platforms that amplified brands’ growth. It is becoming increasingly clear that without social media platforms, the concept of PR will amount to nothing for several brands.
In 2024, LinkedIn will continue to be the go-to space for brands keen on strengthening their grips as thought leaders in their respective industries. Instagram and Facebook will maintain active roles in helping small and upcoming brands build momentum and increase sales.
6. The Necessity of Data-driven PR
Data-driven PR is on the rise, and its impact so far appears promising. The focus on gathering data from market research and surveys, to driving PR strategies is increasingly impacting a shift in the way contemporary marketing communications is unfolding.
Several brands now amplify their stories and content with data, and the processes of connecting with the public have increasingly been managed by observational and social listening tools. We are confident that in 2024, data will play a more fundamental role than intuitive direction in defining PR strategies.
7. Crisis Management Will Top the PR Chart
We are all aware of how messy it can get when those corporate-speak argy-bargy jumps off the boardrooms onto the public scene. Or those common scenarios that inform customers to drag brands in the mud by escalating situations given poor services or technical mistakes. Nothing kills a brand reputation so fast than escalated crises. Of the few recent examples of the failure of crisis management we can recall in the world of business, the Sam Altman firing saga at Open AI and Elon Musk long drown X (formerly Twitter) battles were the most profound.
As we walk into 2024, many brands will at all costs resist the urge to swim in muddy waters despite how intractable the problems might seem. Investment in crisis management will be an inevitable catalyst for growth in the coming year – as many brands are beginning to understand that the best path to building a sustainable reputation is to invest in performance-driven crisis management strategies.
8. The Immutable Competition with SEO
The competition among brands, as regards online visibility, is likely to intensify in 2024. This year, Google made several tweaks on ways brands can attain SEO growth on its search engine. While a few brands were able to break the ice and forge ahead in their visibility drive, many others struggled.
As a functional part of PR, SEO remains the most important and affordable pathway in today’s world to get your brands into spaces it can easily interface with the target audience. The race to rank higher than competitors through SEO is expected to grow even stiffer for brands in 2024. Like in previous years, only brands with the best strategy will win the search engine race.
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By: Oti Egwu