As we step into 2024, public relations continues to be strongly influenced by the ever-expanding presence of artificial intelligence and, yet again, we find ourselves in the middle of innovation and tradition.
While the integration of AI is starting to reshape the way PR operates, there’s a growing need for even more meticulous personalization. However, this time, a looming global crisis and inflation has cast a shadow over the strategic decisions, fueled by budget cuts and layoffs.
In this article, we’ll explore the top trends that will dominate PR in 2024 and what different public relations specialists are thinking and doing – including freelancers, agencies, and brands.
If you’re interested in getting the full report right away – you can download the full study below to gain insights on the impact of AI, budget constraints, and common challenges in PR.
Ready to see the biggest public relations trends in 2024? From AI taking over to a need for stronger relationship-building practices, dive into the article to discover if your strategy for the upcoming year is on track.
1. AI content generation (36%)
What’s the PR world’s hottest trend right now? Unsurprisingly, AI-generated content made our respondent’s list of top PR trends for 2024. After a brief moment of collective anxiety, we’ve all thought about robots and artificial intelligence stealing our jobs, it’s safe to say that for those who are in public relations the fear has turned out to be more myth than fact.
To paraphrase what our respondents said on why 36% of them picked this trend as their primary prediction, AI content creation tools are great for brainstorming, generating ideas, drafting new story angles, and helping specialists get over writer’s block. Plus, a good chunk of the allure lies somewhere in between its user-friendly nature, easy access, and the little to nearly no learning curve.
|“AI-generated content has indeed become a hot topic in the PR and marketing world. It can generate content quickly and in large volumes, making it a valuable tool for PR professionals who need to produce a lot of material in a short time. AI also reduces the need for human labor in content creation, which can lower costs. However, as more organizations use AI for content, there’s a growing risk of homogenization, where everything starts to sound the same,” – Maria Gergova-Bengtsson, Founder and CEO of United Partners
2. Data-driven PR (17.5%)
Intuition comes with experience, but having concrete numbers to back up your strategy is key. In our PR Trends Report, data-driven public relations takes 2nd place with 17.5% of respondents saying that quantifiable data will help yield better results.
Tracking mentions and analyzing performance, measuring your outcomes more precisely, adjusting strategies on the go, and making informed decisions all help foster stronger relationships and cater to a chosen audience.
Plus, with solid numbers up your sleeve, you’re more likely to get better budgets from stakeholders or clients and prove that what you’re doing strengthens your brand’s presence in the media.
3. AI for conducting research (12.9%)
Have you ever thought of using AI to do a bit of research? 12.9% of respondents said this and other new public relations trends related to artificial intelligence will be popular in 2024. Yes, the amount of AI might be a bit overwhelming, but don’t fret – it’s all for a good cause: to help you streamline your workflow and make things that you can automate go a bit faster.
We delve deeper into this topic in our report, because using AI for research has both its positives and negatives. While it’s great for brainstorming story angles, connecting the dots you might have overlooked, and being more efficient overall, there’s also a list of things that need a “human check” and should never be taken for granted.
While AI took the top spot to outrank other PR trends, we can observe several interesting shifts here. Some might be taking place due to inflation and budget cuts, others due to more and more clutter in the media. Here’s a small preview:
1. A decrease in CSR activities
Deeply affected by the global crisis, PR specialists’ priorities have changed as we’ve observed a significant drop in CSR compared to last year’s survey (31% then vs. 9.8% now). On the one hand, this is surprising to see, given the growing importance of brand transparency and audiences’ need to see authenticity from brands, the people who represent them, and the community they build.
On the other hand, with today’s inflation affecting everyone’s budgets, shifts in strategic focus, or general reassessment of impact and alignment, more and more people who work in public relations are viewing this once essential aspect of strategy as more of an extra.
PR Pros also need to consider that this might influence the company’s reputation, stakeholder relationships, and long-term sustainability. There are plenty of other ways to support social and environmental causes. This is when thinking outside of the box is key.
2. Rising importance of Digital PR
This PR trend jumped from 4th place (13% of votes) to 2nd place (17.5%), showing the growing significance of immersing public relations strategies in digital platforms. Nowadays, it’s rare for specialists to omit strategies that include TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, or even less utilized platforms, like Reddit or Slack groups.
Depending on the target audience, communities are nearly everywhere in the digital world and that’s not going away anytime soon. Also, we’re constantly battling with Google algorithms and building links to increase online visibility wherever possible.
Side note: it’s interesting to see how drastically PR is evolving into different competencies (already torn in plenty of different directions, let’s add a few more, shall we?) But that’s a whole different topic to discuss.
3. Increase in AI adoption
Compared to PR Trends 2023, it’s no surprise that AI made it to the report more than once. Thanks to its affordability and effectiveness, even if a “human touch” is always needed, it’s a technology that’s here to stay. There’s also a relatively small learning curve, which helps people get to know the algorithm quickly and more efficiently than with other, more complicated tools.
To find out whether brands or agencies express more interest in AI-related PR activities, you can download Prowly’s PR Trends Report for 2024.
We know that a big part of public relations requires a thoughtful approach to budget allocations. PR professionals are tasked with making strategic investments that balance traditional practices and emerging trends.
Let’s dive right in and see what budget strategies will become public relations trends in 2024.
1. Nurturing strategic partnerships (37%)
Building relationships and genuine connections is a marathon, but the yields are worth the effort. Over a third of respondents claimed that when it comes to budget trends in public relations for 2024, a good chunk of the money they get will go towards partnerships.
While understanding associated costs can pose a challenge to stakeholders and clients, constantly nurturing and building relationships strengthens ties and generates a strong return on investment.
|“Storytelling becomes the linchpin for translating partnerships into tangible outcomes. Media, in particular, craves authenticity. Real stories, coupled with genuine human experiences, elevate the narrative. Just as partnerships with other brands can be tracked, so too can collaborations with clients that are real people and their stories.
This approach fosters a connection with your audience and allows for measurable outcomes… The media’s appetite for authenticity is insatiable. Crafting narratives that intertwine seamlessly with the partnered brand’s not only resonates with audiences but also provides a tangible avenue for measuring success,” – Jana Garanko, Head Of Public Relations at Semrush
2. Investing in AI-powered tools (18.7%)
Without a doubt, there are many free tools on the market. However, investing in AI-powered tools can elevate your daily workflow and speed up tasks even more. As our report about public relations trends in 2024 noted, about 1 in 5 respondents consider AI a worthwhile investment. They claim that adopting artificial intelligence can improve engagement, efficiency, and effectiveness in various tasks.
This includes drafting press releases, pitching, thinking of subject and preview lines, and analyzing complex data. Given that everyone is already hopping on this as a part of their PR trends, catching up sooner rather than later is important to stay ahead of the competition.
|“In 2024, we can expect a continued surge in adopting AI-powered tools and resources. The growing popularity of AI in the PR industry in 2023 is just the tip of the iceberg regarding its promising future. We’re only scratching the surface of AI’s potential. AI tools are poised to enhance various facets of PR work, including refining journalist pitches, expediting media intelligence and research, and streamlining the reporting process.
While we’ve already witnessed the benefits of existing AI tools like ChatGPT and Grammarly, I foresee the emergence of new AI-powered features in 2024 that will be tailor-made to excel in the areas I’ve mentioned,” – John McCartney, Founder and Principal of Jmac PR
3. Conducting market research (13.6%)
The better you know your audience, the better strategies you can draft to leave an impact with your target community. With 13.6% of respondents claiming this is the third most important budget item they will fund in 2024, public relations trends seem to be shifting to incorporate advanced technology and build even stronger relationships in the future.
|“While market data provides valuable insights, it should be used as a complement of communication strategies rather than a sole driver. PR Pros should analyze & interpret the data, identifying trends that align with the brand’s values and objectives,” – Jen Berson, Founder of Jeneration PR
Trends come and go, and the public relations space is no different. From outdated strategies to approaches that no longer resonate with the current times, let’s go ahead and dive right in to see what practices should be a thing of the past.
1. X (previously Twitter) as a must-have platform (30.8%)
Nearly 1 in 3 respondents said X (previously Twitter) is no longer necessary. No one could have predicted this, especially since it was long a top platform for journalists and PR pros. However, this is just another example of how fast things can change and how external factors affect our daily bread and butter.
While there’s no new favorite social media platform out there yet, there are channels to help get the message across to particular audiences and increase your brand’s online presence in general. Whatever platforms you end up using, adapting to this shift as soon as possible will yield the best results for both yourselves and your clients.
2. Mass email pitching (14.2%)
When asking our respondents which trends should go, 14.2% said there are better ways to do things in PR than just sending the same email to dozens of journalists. This only emphasizes how important personalization is today and what traditional methods are no longer in vogue. With journalists being constantly spammed with irrelevant pitches, it’s no surprise mass emails are no longer welcome.
|“I know the pressure in our industry can be to go, go, go, but you shouldn’t underestimate getting in touch with your industry and understanding the topics that interest journalists. This will help you craft stories that resonate with their vertical and craft pitches that resonate with this specific journalist’s area of interest.
You can also sign up for a media requests service to further help you understand which journalists actively work with PRs, the types of topics they cover, and the information they’re most in need of,” – Jennifer Grey, Digital PR Lead at Green Park Content
3️⃣ AI-generated content (13.1%)
Although writing with the help of AI can save time and help overcome writer’s block, over 13% of our respondents said it’s a trend that needs to go. The intensity of reliance on technology has made a bunch of people unhappy, mostly because many are not using it correctly – it’s not meant to replace writers, subject matter experts, or authentic quotes – it’s meant to work more as an assistant to authenticity, rather than a replacement for the real thing.
Still, some PR Pros are not buying it, and we get it. After all, writing is an art, and artificial intelligence will never be able to inject raw insights and emotions into a pitch or press release. While this is not how long-lasting relationships are built, many people use AI anyway. The right thing to do is to educate others on how to be smart when using AI and to be aware of where it underperforms.
In this year’s PR Trends Report, our respondents identified 3 key challenges they will struggle with in 2024.
1. Information overload and standing out
In 2024, PR professionals will be battling the significant challenge of managing information overload in a highly competitive media landscape. There’s content on top of content everywhere, requiring a strategic approach to cutting through the noise and positioning brands even more effectively to leave the biggest impact.
Dealing with such a volume of information begs for a refined strategy in order to reach the intended audience, no matter the digital clutter. Also, with the growing influence of artificially generated content, making it to the top will be even more challenging.
2. Impact of AI and technology
Technology has been a part of any PR specialist’s workflow for a while, but is it even more common now? Obviously, with the implementation of AI into different PR tools, more and more things are getting automated.
While there are many benefits, there are also things that need to be discussed and analyzed – is what I’m doing effective? Is my work starting to suffer because of a lack of that “human touch”? Are all the statistics and numbers I’m analyzing factual? Do they mean anything to stakeholders?
The real challenge is to question what AI generates – is it ethical? Is it inclusive? Is it true? A big chunk of our respondents said the impact of AI and technology will be one of the biggest challenges for them moving into 2024.
|“In 2024, one of the most significant challenges for PR professionals will be navigating the ever-changing digital landscape. As tools such as AI become more commonplace and shifts in consumer behavior continue to accelerate, it is crucial for PR pros to stay ahead of the curve. Successfully adapting to emerging platforms, changing algorithms, and digital trends, all while ensuring a client’s messaging remains on brand and resonates with the target audience, will continue to be a juggling act,” – Lana West, PR Director at PIVOT PR
3. Media landscape and relationships
Clutter, clutter, and more clutter often prevents media contacts from getting through all their emails to get to that one PR pitch they’re most interested in . Well, that’s not uncommon, especially since the media landscape keeps growing horizontally. Factor in fake news, clickbait, and emails from mass pitches, and the probability you’ll end up “on read” is higher than ever before (even if your pitch is pure gold!).
|“Getting the attention of journalists will be one of the biggest challenges for PR Pros in 2024. It’s not enough to have a good subject line: now you need strong relationships, the right timing, and the patience to see results come in two, three, or even four months after you first send,” – Jonny Taylor, Head of Marketing at Bring Digital
Without a doubt, artificial intelligence took the spotlight in this year’s report. Aside from technology, PR experts are putting more and more importance on creating strategies based on concrete data, building even stronger relationships using personalization and authentic narratives, and diving into communities they might have yet to consider.
Whether you’re an expert in public relations or just starting out, looking at what is in and what is on its way out can help you prepare a public relations strategy for 2024.
The results of this survey are based on answers from nearly 300 public relations professionals worldwide about their thoughts and predictions for 2024, industry habits that are no longer working, and challenges they believe they will face in the upcoming year. Most of the research was done through a query using the HARO platform and during the ICON and ICCO conferences.