The Top PR Predictions for 2024: More AI, Less X

What brands can expect and leave behind, according to public relations experts

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Public perception can make or break a company. It’s the job and responsibility of a public relations expert or team to not only protect their clients’ reputation but also build awareness, credibility and trust through communications in a fast-paced, ever-shifting world.

A lot has happened this year and so much will change in 2024, especially for PR professionals. Here’s what to expect and what’s best to leave behind, according to experts including CEOs, founders and executive professionals from some of the top agencies in the world.

Oh my, AI

“As we navigate global shifts and technological advancements, our response capabilities have evolved. Embracing our role in shaping trends, AI continues to be a cornerstone, enhancing our strategies without overshadowing human ingenuity. Additionally, new screenless AI and sound design integration, like AI pins, are driving a shift toward crafting brand experiences beyond visual interfaces. Meanwhile, the rise in video and audio content, particularly podcasts, dominates our landscape, alongside short-form videos and influencers, charting the dynamic course ahead in our ever-evolving PR landscape.” —Haley Hammerling, senior PR director, AKQA

“In 2024 we will see an investment in strategies that build trust for brands. There will be an emphasis on human and grounded storytelling, authentic community building and quality over quantity. This will happen as a response to the explosive rise of AI tools for our industry and in marketing more broadly. It will become increasingly important for consumers to trust their interactions with brands as more and more online content is created by AI.” —Kara Silverman, evp, 5WPR

“While the increasing number of PR professionals using AI-powered tools to serve clients better isn’t a secret, talking about it openly with clients is still somewhat taboo in our industry going into 2024. The fear of answering complex questions about privacy and security and addressing staggering hourly fees holds many of us back from having these conversations.

However, now’s the time for us to be more transparent with our clients about how we’re using AI, not less. If we as an industry can’t effectively convey how AI-powered tools enhance rather than replace some of the services we provide, some of us might face challenging discussions ahead, especially considering the existing perceptions many businesses have about the role of PR professionals.” —Christopher Joseph (CJ) Arlotta, founder, CJ Media Solutions

X doesn’t mark the spot

“Thanks to Elon Musk’s challenges in keeping brands on X (formerly Twitter), brand safety has become a mainstream concept. More people than ever understand that ad-supported media might be subject to advertiser pullbacks if the content or experience could be detrimental to the brand. Twitter is a clear example of this and has been in the news daily for its brand exodus. Interestingly, brand safety has largely been the domain of paid media and marketers, who grapple with when to pull ad spend due to a news event and which publishers make the most sense to align with.

PR teams will become more central to brand safety conversations in 2024. PR teams are more attuned to the evolving news cycle to identify brand-threatening conversations—they’re often smarter about publishers and are hyper-aware of brand sensitivities that could become news fodder. PR will become a key stakeholder in brand safety conversations in 2024, regardless of whether they’re about paid media spend.” —Chris Harihar, evp, Crenshaw Communications, a Mod Op Company

“Aside from AI, 2024 will be a big year for LinkedIn. Where once Twitter was a great platform to connect with journalists and even land stories for clients in the national press, since becoming X, it’s just not the same. I’ve seen the migration of journalists to LinkedIn to share their work, post requests for leads and even source stories based on the posts of employees, and I only see this increasing. For PR it means increasing the time spent monitoring and engaging on the channel, but beyond that, there’s also an opportunity to help clients tell their stories better and connect them with journalists in their sector when a relevant opportunity arises.” —Karolina Throssell, founder and PR consultant, Iden

Flexibility and versatility are critical

“The boundaries among earned, owned and paid media will evolve. Gone are the days of earned media alone driving impact and value. Enterprises and brands alike will see an increasing need to expand their PR strategies to include the entire B2B marketing ecosystem, from editorial coverage to paid content to social marketing to owned events and stages to executive visibility programs. The real impact will come from messages being reinforced across all these channels.” —Samantha DiGennaro, founder and CEO, Sam DiGennaro Communications

“Funding was limited across industries in 2023, leaving many business leaders reconsidering budgets in the year ahead. We’re seeing far smaller to medium-sized businesses swapping out the traditional agency model for smaller comms partners and freelancers with a strong niche in their area. While you get less people power, the benefits of downsizing can be huge cost savings, faster turnaround times and far fewer strategy meetings.” —Hannah Martin, founder, What Follows

A focus on internal positioning

Martin also noted that “As the global talent shortage rages on, business leaders will spend more time plugging talent gaps by strengthening their employer brand. In 2024, we’ll see the brand’s PR investment not only focused on influencing external stakeholders but also on reestablishing loyalty and commitment from existing employees and teasing potential hires. Expect to see more noise around company growth and thought leadership as businesses fight for the best.”

Final thoughts: Media relations will continue to reign supreme as brands have a love and understanding of the impact an earned press headline can have. Communications professionals will run into roadblocks deploying AI for writing as most editorial outlets do not accept AI-generated content. And while there will be many ways in how we approach PR that will change in 2024, there’s no doubt that the fundamentals and foundational aspects will stay the same.