As 2024 fast approaches, we look ahead to the trends, methods, and challenges digital PR practitioners should stay on top of for best practice.
Due to the ever-evolving nature of the sector, those working within digital PR need to be staying on top of trends and challenges that crop up, now more than ever. This ensures they stay intertwined and connected with the audience they're trying to reach through their digital PR efforts.
Trends often reflect advancements in technology and shifts in consumer behaviour, so being aware of them allows you to stay relevant, connect better with your audience, and maintain a competitive edge. Plus, it prevents digital PR efforts from feeling outdated or disconnected.
With this in mind, we’ve highlighted some trends that we consider to be the most important to consider going into 2024, including:
- Humanised Approaches in Campaigns
- Simplified Brand Messages
- New Focuses for a New Audience
- Upskilling for PRs
- Data-Driven Approaches
- Use of AI within Digital PR
Let’s delve in…
PR Trends and Practices to Keep Up With in 2024
Humanised Approaches in Digital PR
In the midst of trying to gain coverage, shares, and links across many different platforms, it’s easy to get caught up in the robotics of digital PR and try to whittle processes down to be formulaic for efficiency and learning purposes. It’s easy to forget the human messages we want to transpire.
Some PRs promise links to clients, but often this results in ‘paid for’ links. Whilst this does achieve a goal, it’s often at the expense of a well-crafted, thought-out story that achieves more than a link.
That said, if the main goals revolve around links, then how important is a human approach anyway and why does it matter so much in the grand scheme of campaign planning?
Human approaches in digital PR matter for a few reasons. First and foremost, people connect with people, not just with brands or companies. When there's a human touch in digital PR, it helps build a more authentic and relatable image for the brand.
Secondly, in the age of social media and constant connectivity, the way information is shared and consumed is more personal than ever. Humanising digital PR means tailoring messages in a way that resonates with individuals, fostering a sense of trust and credibility.
Moreover, human approaches in digital PR allow for better engagement and interaction. People are more likely to respond positively to content that feels like it's coming from a real person rather than a faceless entity. It opens up opportunities for meaningful conversations and relationship-building.
Going into 2024, incorporating a human touch in digital PR planning is essential for building genuine connections, fostering trust, and creating a more engaging and relatable brand presence in a digital landscape.
Simplified Brand Messages
A simplified brand message is a clear and concise statement that communicates the core essence or value proposition of a brand in an easily understandable way. It distils the brand's identity, values, or unique selling points into a brief and memorable message that resonates with the target audience.
Simplified brand messages matter in digital PR for a few key reasons. In the fast-paced and often overwhelming digital environment, simplicity cuts through the noise and captures attention more effectively.
A brand message that’s clear, memorable, accessible, shareable, and consistent is one that is likely to do well within a digital landscape alongside others. It’s not just the target audience we want to remember a brand, but also those reporting on them, such as journalists. This is a key practice within digital PR we see being a strong focus in 2024.
New Focus for New Audiences
Something that will become more important going into 2024 is considering how to connect with a whole ‘new’ generation of people. Considering this within digital PR is essential for staying relevant, so here are some key considerations:
The new generation is often referred to as digital natives, having grown up in a digital age. Digital PR methods should align with their digital preferences, such as mobile-friendly content, interactive experiences, and a strong presence on social media platforms.
As well as this, the new generation places a lot of value in authenticity. Communication efforts should focus on genuine storytelling, transparent communication, and real human experiences, avoiding overly polished or staged content that may come across as insincere.
Growing up in a digital age also means attention spans are shorter. Utilising visually appealing and concise content formats, such as videos, infographics, and short posts, could prove to be effective in communicating with the new generation. Grabbing attention quickly and delivering the message succinctly is key.
Finally, the new generation often aligns with brands that stand for social and environmental causes. Digital PR methods should highlight a brand's values and contributions to society. Authenticity is crucial here; it's not just about marketing but genuinely living up to those values.
In the case of law firms, this could refer to showing support to causes the law firm truly back in the actions they take throughout the year. Whether it’s supporting a charity, supporting LGBTQ+ events, or even providing free legal advice in show of support of certain values.
Upskilling for PRs
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s particularly important for PRs to constantly be upskilling. This is essential for staying relevant, competitive, and effective in the ever-evolving field of digital PR. It empowers professionals to adapt to changes, leverage new technologies, and contribute meaningfully to the success of their campaigns and overall business objectives. More specifically, reasons include:
For one, the digital landscape is constantly evolving, with new technologies, platforms, and trends emerging regularly. Upskilling ensures that professionals stay current with the latest tools and strategies, enabling them to navigate the dynamic digital PR environment effectively.
As we know with the introduction and normalised use of AI, the digital PR field is heavily influenced by technology. Upskilling allows professionals to harness the power of new tools such as this to assist with analytics, automation, and other technological advancements to enhance their campaigns, analyse data effectively, and streamline processes.
Refining Diverse Skillset
Secondly, digital PR is a multifaceted role which demands a diverse skill set, including content creation, social media management, data analysis, and more. Upskilling allows professionals to broaden their skill set, making them more versatile and capable of handling various aspects of digital PR.
This is also important working within a competitive job market; having up-to-date skills gives professionals a competitive edge. Employers value individuals who invest in their professional development and can demonstrate a mastery of the latest trends and technologies in digital PR.
Allows for Creativity
Thirdly, upskilling encourages a mindset of innovation and creativity. Learning new skills and staying informed about industry trends can inspire fresh ideas and approaches to digital PR campaigns, leading to more innovative and effective strategies.
Data driven approaches when it comes to campaign planning can be useful in many ways. We see this becoming an ever-increasing strategy within the sector, in multiple ways:
Those working in digital PR know what a gold mine it can be to have a unique set of data to work with from which stories can be told that directly reflect the behaviour of their client’s audience. After all, what journalist has the time to decipher through the mounds of data available in order to craft a story?
There are many data sources that can be useful to PR specialists, including client’s own data, public data such as ONS statistics, and data taken from our own work. If PRs can do this for the journalists, they’re much more likely to be able to craft stories worth reporting on.
Furthermore, data driven approaches to campaigns show credibility and reliability with a specific knowledge of people’s behaviour.
Data for Reporting
It’s not just unique data that is useful in terms of crafting stories; public data also holds a lot of value for PRs. Digital PR campaigns, social media posts and web pages generate a vast amount of data, including website traffic, social media engagement, and audience demographics.
Data from such sources allows digital PRs to measure the success of their campaigns objectively, providing tangible results that can be analysed and used to optimise future efforts. Practitioners can also then tailor their future strategies to align with audience preferences.
Having such insights also allows PRs to have better-targeted messaging for future campaigns. This deeper understanding of the target audience allows PR professionals to tailor their messaging and communication strategies to better connect with and engage with their audience.
In summary, using a data-driven approach in PR, whether it’s public data or unique, not only shows creditability and reliability but can help develop targeted messaging effectively and provide unique insights that appeals to journalists who share the same target audience.
Increased Use of AI within Digital PR
Like many other creatives, people working within digital PR also benefit from the use of AI. We therefore see an increased ‘normalised’ approach when it comes to the use of AI within digital PR, and there are many reasons for it.
AI can help cut down time on mundane tasks through automation, as well as help with content creation in many ways, but it doesn’t stop there.
AI tools can effectively monitor media coverage and sentiment around a brand or campaign. Real-time monitoring enables PR professionals to respond promptly to emerging issues, capitalise on positive sentiment, and manage the brand's reputation more effectively. Additionally, this helps with crisis management should something appear online that needs immediate attention.
It’s also useful in providing the bones and structure for press releases, social media posts, and other written materials - though it’s important to still put your own take on things! AI for content creation can also be very helpful for training purposes.
Lastly, if utilised effectively, AI can assist with data analysis and provide insights to certain audiences. This data-driven approach enables PR professionals to make more informed decisions and tailor their strategies to better resonate with their target audience.
Keeping Up with Digital PR Trends and Practices in 2024
We’ve highlighted some key trends and practices we believe will be a huge focus for digital PR in 2024, but you never really know what could crop up throughout the year and take over. Despite this, it’s important for businesses who wish to stand out among competitors to embrace what digital PR can offer.
For PR practitioners, it’s never been more important to stay abreast of key trends, upskill where possible, embrace data-driven approaches in campaign planning and embrace what AI can offer for efficiency purposes.