As another year draws to a close and brands look ahead to 2024, what marketing and public relations advice can help guide us as we make plans?
49% of marketers say they feel “more optimistic” about the U.S. economy, up from 30.1% last spring (based on the fall 2023 CMO survey by Deloitte and the American Marketing Association). But how will that translate into their marketing and PR programs?
To help companies plan, I asked 24 influencers to share their thoughts on this question: What ONE piece of marketing or PR advice would you offer to brands as we head into the new year?
Here’s what they had to say.
Marketing and PR Advice for 2024
1) Focus on an underserved content niche instead of boiling the ocean with your content.
So many brands create blogs, videos and podcasts about what they want to talk about in areas they are comfortable with. The problem is, most times, there is already so much content in that area they will never break through (no matter what they do).
Ask yourself, “If we do the work, could we be the leading information provider in this area?” If the answer is no, you need to go deeper into the content niche or focus on a more narrow audience.
– Joe Pulizzi, Author, Epic Content Marketing and Content Inc., JoePulizzi.com
2) 2024 will be the year when companies will have to show more faces and be more conversational in order to rise above the AI noise.
We/consumers are growing more and more aware of soulless content that contains general knowledge. Capturing conversations and first-hand thoughts from company leaders and customers will become a necessity.
– A. Lee Judge, Co-Founder, Content Monsta
3) Budget time to study and experiment.
We are living through dynamic times. Big trends all around us are changing everything, from GA4, Generative AI, search generative experience and finally, pickleball.
It’s critically important to keep your skills fresh. The two best ways to do that are to do this. First, set up calls with other practitioners to trade notes. Second, budget time to research and test new tactics on your own. Marketing and PR pros who do this in 2024 will be well-positioned in 2025 and beyond.
– Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder / Chief Marketing Officer, Orbit Media Studios, Inc.
4) As our world gets filled with AI-generated content, think about the ways your brand can authentically show up and be relentlessly helpful to your audience. For instance:
- Encourage your team to build their brands on LinkedIn and show up for your audience as educators and supporters.
- Build (or continue to invest in) community. This will be your best differentiator.
- Figure out what questions your audience has and answer them with data. My favorite approach: survey-based original research.
– Michele Linn, Co-founder, Mantis Research
5) Redouble your efforts on foundational programs.
Most businesses in B2B tech are tugging a lot harder on the purse strings. Budgets have recovered modestly but expect financial scrutiny to continue through 2024.
As such, marketing and PR, should focus on ensuring foundational programs, as opposed to campaigns, are running well. This means things like producing a webinar or white paper every month, sending a newsletter twice a month, publishing a blog post once a week, and working on a contributed article for a third-party publication every month.
If you are nailing this, work on improving or augmenting the effort. Pay to boost posts on social media. Turn your best-performing posts into sponsored content. Try partnering with a non-competitive company to put on a virtual workshop.
There are a lot of new tools clamoring for attention, generative AI notwithstanding. Don’t get distracted; the basics still matter and there’s a lot of room to improve these programs and stay within budget.
6) If you thought AI dominated PR in 2023, brace yourself for AI permeating every nook and cranny in 2024. Inevitably, journalists will suffer from that malady known as AIF (artificial intelligence fatigue), another way of saying stop pitching theories. You’ll need use cases with names and specifics to win over journalists in 2024. As for the misinformation deluge on the way tied to the Presidential election, that’s a topic for another time.
– Lou Hoffman, CEO, The Hoffman Agency
7) Everyone will probably say AI is their prediction for 2024, and I don’t disagree. It will continue to disrupt how we do our jobs next year, and I, for one, am here for every second of it! Beyond that, we’ll continue to see an emphasis on organizations standing up for their values and paving the way for societal and cultural change. This means communicators will have the opportunity to shine as they message around these initiatives.
– Gini Dietrich, CEO + Founder, Arment Dietrich, Inc + Spin Sucks
8) Stop worrying about being everything to everyone. Focus on building and nurturing communities that will help your brand build trust and enable co-creation of ideas.
– Stephanie Stahl, General Manager, Content Marketing Institute
9) While others go deeper in AI, go deeper in HI, or Human Interaction. Build true community with your customers, create an advocacy program for your external and internal brand ambassadors, and have your brand authentically show up more in video, both long and short form. The human connection is what builds the emotional attachment that is the hallmark of a great brand, and with the ubiquity of AI it is more important than ever.
– Neal Schaffer, President, PDCA Social, https://nealschaffer.com
10) The best advice I could give to brands for 2024 is to get close to your customers. Gather and process as many qualitative insights as possible from your active customers and use them to guide your marketing. Knowing what drives your customers to look for your solution and understanding what they need most from your product is the biggest competitive advantage your company can build. The pressure to compete and grab market share is already at a fever pitch, and it will only get noisier.
– Sunny Hunt, CEO/Chief Customer Nerd, Hunt Interaction
11) Brands should take a broader perspective of public relations than media relations. While the media is an important stakeholder, it often has an outsized and exaggerated influence on a brand. Public relations has the potential to help a brand manage its reputation and relationships with a much broader set of stakeholders, including customers, employees and investors. It should work with management to ensure activities align with the company’s overall strategy and goals.
– Stephen Waddington, founder and managing partner, Wadds Inc.
12) I see and hear a lot of talk about how we can/should be using AI, generative or otherwise. While it is absolutely important to understand how to ethically leverage Generative AI for marketing efficiencies and optimization, I think it’s even more important to remember that, at the end of the day, we are human beings who thrive on the human connection. That same human connection is what helps brands successfully connect with their customers; a connection it’s imperative to keep front and center in a world increasingly powered by AI.
Think of everything we have been through in the last few years, with the COVID-19 pandemic. Direct, physical connection was the one thing denied to us around the globe… and the one thing that human beings crave most of all. We should absolutely use the tech at our disposal to amplify and disseminate our work. But if we don’t remember that, at the end of the day, it’s people we’re trying to connect with… all that effort could go to waste. And what a shame that would be.
– Shonali Burke, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Arena Stage, www.shonaliburke.com
13) The best advice I can give is to stay the course with audience-centric messaging and content strategy. AI is the big, shiny object right now, and while we’d be naive to ignore it, it doesn’t change the core of what great content marketing requires of us: knowing our audience and delivering outstanding experiences that attract, engage, and delight! AI can take away some of the busy work, but it is not (yet!) ready to replace the human-driven, empathetic and insight-driven work of content strategy.
–Ali Orlando Wert, Content Marketing Strategist & Speaker, Appfire
14) Share your story and the stories of your team with the world. Hearing why people work where they do, believe in the product or service they offer and the meaning behind it resonates with others. Stories can be shared on podcast interviews and repurposed into even more marketing content. Allow the stories of more than the founder or CEO to be told to create a greater impact.
– Michelle Glogovac, Founder of The MLG Collective® and THE Podcast Matchmaker™, https://themlgcollective.com
15) In 2023, we saw the further degradation of X (Twitter) and the heightening of brand safety issues, resulting in even more fragmentation of the social media space. We’ve also seen reach and traffic decline from nearly every platform.
For many PR pros and communicators, this creates a shake-up in our content marketing efforts. It reminds us (once again) never to have all our eggs in one basket and to proactively experiment on alternate platforms. It also reinforces that we must focus on owned media (content on our own platform) first. *Note that I’m talking about quality human-contrived content, not generative AI outputs.
16) Reputation is about behavior. If brands behave well, they are perceived well. The reputation is owned by stakeholders and how they perceive a brand. So, in 2024 let us go back to the basics and make good behavior a deliberate choice.
– Amith Prabhu, Co-Author of The Pursuit of Reputation, amithprabhu.com
17) Be specific about what success looks like for your customer and how your business can help them achieve it and focus your marketing strategy around that insight. It doesn’t matter how many, how much, how often, how fast, how high-profile — if what you’re doing isn’t meaningful to your most important audience. Nail that, and it will be easier to do the other most important thing: communicating your value to internal stakeholders.
– Carmen Hill, Principal Strategist & Writer, Chill Content LLC
18) There is real potential for the content to become commodity as the use of ChatGPT becomes more ubiquitous. Get closer to your front-line people — especially your sales team. Mine anyone in a customer-facing role for insights and angles that can make your content unique. And also look for ways to maximize them as potential distribution channels for your content. Lean into your people, and AI tools to research (carefully) and repurpose.
– Greg Mischio, Founder and CEO, Winbound
19) Artificial intelligence is here and it’s going to change everything. Be open minded, because we know that change, in one form or another, is coming for all of us. I’m using an ‘A4 framework’ to navigate – assess, anticipate, act, adjust. Rather than have change forced upon us, I encourage folks to ‘be the change.’
– Dennis Shiao, founder of marketing agency Attention Retention LLC
20) My one piece of advice for all brands is to add accessibility to the process. Accessibility matters because it gives everyone equal access regardless of the circumstances. Accessibility matters because it gives people choices in how they interact with the brand. Leaving accessibility out of the equation will prevent many from interacting with the brand.
– Meryl K. Evans, CPACC, Speaker, Trainer, and Accessibility Consultant, meryl.net
21) My biggest piece of advice for PR in 2024 and beyond is ethical consideration and transparency around AI. With AI’s growing popularity, there should be an increased focus on ethical use of data and maintaining transparency. This is especially true in how AI-generated content is disclosed to the public.
While AI may significantly enhance PR’s efficiency and effectiveness, the need for human understanding with context, emotions, and experiences is irreplaceable. And the proper transparency is paramount to maintaining trust as a journalist or PR professional.
– Brooke Sellas, CEO, B Squared Media
22) Think of your employees as spokespeople, ensure that they know the value of public relations and even go as far as wrangling up a group of them and media training them. Having a handful of media-trained spokespeople helps us when there is a need for a quote, a broadcast opportunity or a subject matter expert that is needed as part of a story.
– Jose “Pepe” Xicohtencatl, Public Relations and Social Media Director, Tapiz Media
23) Ensure you are authentic and factually correct with your storytelling when promoting your brand. There’s no room for greenwashing with your employees or your customers.
– Sangeeta Waldron, Founder, Serendipity PR & Media
24) Traditional communications measurement will become obsolete. As more and more people, groups and communities move to texting, WhatsApp and other platforms that aren’t or can’t be monitored by the automated listening services, the numbers produced by those companies will become increasingly irrelevant. We will need to figure out how to analyze the sources that people trust, not the ones that
advertisers and politicians are dominating with their dollars.
– Katie Paine, CEO, Paine Publishing
What Are You Focusing on as You Make Marketing and PR Plans for 2024?
What’s at the top of your list as you prepare your marketing program for 2024?
Whatever advice you intend to follow as you get ready for the new year, be sure to regularly revisit and evaluate your marketing, content and PR plans. And follow each of these experts to help inform your strategy.
Looking for a PR consultant to help you increase visibility? If you’re a B2B company looking to launch or expand your public relations program in 2024, let’s chat. Learn more about my PR consulting services here.
100% of this blog post was written by me, the human.
About the author: Michelle Garrett is a public relations consultant, writer, and speaker who helps B2B companies create content, earn media coverage, and position themselves as thought leaders in their industry. Michelle’s articles have been featured in Entrepreneur, Muck Rack and Ragan’s PR Daily, among others. She’s a frequent speaker on public relations and content and has been repeatedly ranked among the top ten most influential PR professionals.