Mumbai: Public relations (PR) as an industry is undergoing significant transformation, driven by technological advancements and strategic shifts. According to a 2023 report, social responsibility (including CSR and DE&I) has taken centre stage, with AI and technology a close second. Another trend that is slowly catching up is data-driven PR, with a focus on narratives that are ground firmly in facts and numbers. Understanding these emerging trends, fostering collaborative strategies, and building up diverse skill sets will be critical for PR professionals to thrive in 2024 and beyond.
PR Trends for the Future:
More and more professionals are gravitating towards a career in PR. In 2022 alone, the industry grew by 13% - and on the flipside, journalists are now receiving over a hundred pitches a day from aspiring newbies. Standing out amidst the competition requires a careful and strategic approach to PR, whether one is new to the industry or a seasoned veteran - and that requires an understanding of the core trends shaping the industry. Here are the three we deem the most critical.
● Technological Integration: The incorporation of AI and advanced technologies is reshaping PR practices. It is undeniable that AI can significantly enhance speed and efficiency along the PR workflow - it is also exponentially faster when it comes to data crunching. At the same time, it is vital to know how to use AI responsibly to avoid biases and ensure that the authentic human touch remains.
● Value-centric approach: In the years to come, the best PR strategies will be the ones that can show the most demonstrable value. PR teams that can craft compelling narratives strongly rooted in facts and presenting meaningful perspectives will stand out.
● Collaborative strategising: PR is increasingly becoming less of an outsourced function and more of a collaborative endeavour between agency and client. Going forward, the best PR teams will invest in creating a work environment that is conducive to creativity and open communication.
Crucial Talents for PR Practitioners:
In this ever-evolving landscape, PR professionals must possess a diverse skill set and a commitment to keep learning and growing. In the UK for instance, being familiar with data analytics and AI is slowly becoming a valuable skill set in the PR world - and as an emerging field, the learning never stops there. When it comes to skills that we believe new-age PR practitioners must have, there are three main categories to talk about:
● Essential Skills: Proficiency in communication remains a cornerstone, and writing skills in particular are a must. PR professionals need to be able to consistently write compelling and interesting narratives that pique the interest of the media. While the jury is still out on the use of AI for PR writing, AI can only do so much. Translating complex thoughts onto paper and conveying opinions in a nuanced manner remain hard-earned skills that PR practitioners need to possess.
● Industry skills - PR practitioners need to know how their clients’ industries operate, what factors impact the way they work, and how to devise the best media strategies for different scenarios. A knowledge of and comfort with modern technology is crucial here.
● Adaptability and Awareness: The world is changing faster than ever and PR professionals need to know how to change with it. Part of this is reading the industry news and staying abreast of trends that might impact clients, but it’s also about embracing changes in the approach to PR and media relations. For instance, one growing trend is that journalists expect a more personalised approach to pitching, with an emphasis on topics that appeal to them. It’s also important to understand how media channels are changing and how they interact.
In short, PR professionals of today need to understand much more than just the basics. Knowing the “why” of each strategy, evolving with the times, using AI and other modern technologies judiciously and investing in meaningful relationships with journalists are some of the ways to become more valuable as a PR professional. Going forward, PR will be all about working harder, working smarter, and creating long-lasting impacts for brands - and it’s never too soon to start that journey.
The author of this article is Star Squared PR CEO Priyan DC.