27 Mar 2024 / in UK Blog / by Amy O'Connell

In today's digital world marked by misinformation, brands are navigating the complexities of reputation management. This environment increasingly blurs the lines between marketing and PR – and maybe that’s a good thing. 

Traditionally, marketing has focused on promoting products or services, driving sales, and building customer relationships through targeted campaigns and advertising. Meanwhile, PR has centered on managing the public image and reputation of a brand, cultivating relationships with media, and navigating crisis communications.  

venn diagram of marketing and PR roles

While these distinctions remain valid, modern times demand a more modern take. To thrive, marketing and PR teams should take advantage of each other’s expertise and watch emerging trends within each discipline. PR professionals who embrace a more marketing-oriented way of thinking can give their strategies a boost and amplify the impact of their efforts. 

But what exactly does that look like in practice? Consider the 2024 Digital Marketing Trends Report from our colleagues at Brandwatch, which outlines the biggest emerging trends for the coming year for marketers. The implications of those trends for PR teams, however, are just as significant. We’ve taken the liberty of highlighting some of those trends and uncovering the opportunities they hold for PR teams as well. 

Trend: “Marketers will embrace and harness the power of AI”

Generative AI has become a force in the industry, enabling marketers to work more efficiently and unlock their creative potential. Blending AI with human expertise leads to more personalized and effective marketing. 

PR Takeaway

Marketers are integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into every facet of their operations, yielding substantial gains in efficiency and effectiveness. Similarly, PR teams already leverage AI for such activities as sentiment analysis, media monitoring, and content creation. By deepening AI integration into their workflows, PR professionals can streamline tasks such as media list curation, campaign building, and reporting. Combining human judgment and experience with AI efficiency frees up capacity for creativity, strategic planning, and relationship building. 

For a deeper dive, we recommend: 
From AI to Z: A Starter Guide to Using Generative AI in PR & Comms
AI and the Future of Comms Teams

Trend: “Authenticity-driven marketing will thrive”

To be more authentic with marketing efforts, brands need to showcase their values across every consumer touchpoint. Make sure that the content you share accurately represents your brand and is crafted with a focus on human connectivity.   

PR Takeaway

Amid a climate of skepticism, authenticity has emerged as a cornerstone of brand credibility. Eighty-six percent of consumers consider a brand's authenticity before making purchases. Yet 37% say less than half of brand content seems authentic. This gap highlights where PR can play a pivotal role. As custodians of brand reputation, PR teams must ground their narratives in authenticity and organizational values. Brands that align their actions with their messaging foster trust, withstand crises more resiliently, and set themselves apart from the competition. Embracing transparency, acknowledging shortcomings, and demonstrating a commitment to evolution reinforce brand credibility in the eyes of stakeholders.

For a deeper dive, we recommend: 
PR and Brand Reputation: Forging Trust in the Age of Scepticism

Trend: “Personalization will be more important than ever”

With an increasing number of competing brands targeting the same customer, brands must become memorable to stay relevant. Personalization makes a customer feel valued, which in turn increases brand loyalty and strengthens customer relationships.

PR Takeaway

Personalized communication can have the same profound effect for PR professionals trying to get the attention of journalists. Overwhelmingly, the outreach methods that impress journalists the most are the ones that show PR professionals have taken the time to and understand the journalist’s audience and what they cover. In fact, 74% of journalists prioritize the stories that are most relevant to their audience when reviewing pitches, as highlighted in our State of the Media Report.

Conducting research to intimately understand specific beats, preferences, and past coverage allows PR teams to better tailor their pitches to the specific journalists they’re contacting and, as a result, differentiate themselves from the rest.  

For a deeper dive, we recommend:
Mastering the Pitch: Data-Backed Strategies for Smarter PR 

Trend: “Social listening will strengthen marketing strategies”

Real-time consumer insights create tangible opportunities for marketers. With marketing budgets under pressure, harnessing the power of social intelligence is essential for marketers looking to improve the measurement and ROI of their initiatives.

PR Takeaway

Social listening has become an essential tool for both marketers and PR professionals, offering real-time insights into consumer sentiment on brands and products, viral trends, competitor activities, and emerging issues. The data PR teams need to learn more about the opinions and perceptions of their target audiences and the public is readily available online, among the billions of conversations happening on social and other digital channels – it’s just a matter of sorting through it all. By blending social data within comprehensive PR platforms, like CisionOne, PR teams gain the intelligence needed to inform strategic decisions, mitigate crises, and maximize brand impact.

For a deeper dive, we recommend:
The Art of Social PR: The Complete Guide to Social Listening for PR

Trend: “Consumers set the standards for business and marketing ethics”

Sustainability and ethical marketing practices continue gaining prominence as consumers become more conscious (and vocal) of environmental and social issues. In a time when consumers are well-informed, have strong opinions, and express them unabashedly, brands need to be particularly attentive.  

PR Takeaway

Consumers increasingly prioritize brands that show true commitment to ethical practices and societal values, particularly evident among gen Z. A majority of consumers (82%) prefer to buy from brands that they share values with - from sustainability and diversity to transparency and privacy.

Beyond advising leadership behind the scenes, PR teams play a pivotal role in translating corporate values into tangible actions and communicating them effectively. By championing ethical initiatives and combatting misinformation, brands not only enhance their reputation and build trust, but also deepen connections with stakeholders across the board.

For a deeper dive, we recommend:
ESG Communications Trend Report

Trend: “Content marketers will elevate creativity to secure consumers’ attention”

The human attention span has shrunk to a mere 8.25 seconds, shorter than a goldfish. It's critical for brands to grab consumers' attention in the first few seconds and keep their content short and sweet.

PR Takeaway

With the constant inundation of content, it takes creativity to capture the hearts and minds (and attention) of consumers. Likewise, PR and comms pros face a similar challenge in reaching media partners. As journalists struggle to keep up with the demands of their jobs, they have even less time to review pitches or engage with PR professionals. PR professionals have to work extra hard to grab their attention, providing truly compelling reasons for journalists to consider their pitches. Incorporating visually compelling elements into pitches – like photographs, data visualizations, infographics, and videos – is one effective way to entice journalists to cover their stories. (In fact, according to the State of the Media report, most journalists are more likely to consider pitches when they include relevant multimedia elements.)

Another creative approach to getting journalists’ attention: Provide exclusive access to events, initial story ideas (with a unique angle), and original data – these are among the top requests journalists ask for from PR professionals, according to the same report. Not only is creativity key to grabbing the media’s attention, it opens the door to building mutually beneficial, long-term relationships.

For a deeper dive, we recommend:
In Their Own Words: Journalists on the PR Pitches That Really Got Their Attention

Trend: “Influencer marketing will grow even bigger”

In an oversaturated industry, influencer collaborations can help brands cut through the noise. Through consistent interaction, influencers can forge deep trust with their audiences, making them highly effective brand promoters.

PR Takeaway

The rise of influencers in marketing is a valuable avenue for PR teams to explore – and it’s only growing. It’s important to note, however, that that the definition of “influencer” has evolved. According to the 2024 Global Comms Report, everyday consumers hold the most sway over consumer behavior, surpassing celebrities and showing increasing favor toward influencers who genuinely endorse products. By identifying relevant, authentic influencers aligned with brand’s values, PR pros can leverage their reach and meaningfully engage target audiences. 

For a deeper dive, we recommend:
Which Influencers Are the Most Effective? The Answer Varies
New PR Influencers and Changing Social Strategies: The Biggest Takeaways from the 7th Global Comms Report

To learn how CisionOne can help you take advantage of these trends and apply these takeaways to your PR strategy, take a tour of the platform now, or speak with an expert. 

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About Amy O'Connell

Amy O'Connell is the Global Content and Experience Producer at Cision. She is a skilled marketing and communications professional with over 15 years of experience across various industries.

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