WEDNESDAY 13 DEC 2023 3:32 PM


Richard Bagnall, co-managing partner at CARMA, gives his predictions for the trends and challenges awaiting the PR industry in 2024.

Over the past 12 months, the integration of technology into tools has turned numerous industries upside down. Artificial intelligence (AI) has infiltrated PR and communications in unimaginable ways. From AI news presenters and AI-generated text, photos, and videos to AI-powered bot farms pumping out misinformation and disinformation - the lines of reality have become very blurred. It’s been a transformative year, to say the least.

The turbulent economy in 2023 has meant budgets have steadily tightened. The value of PR and communications is increasingly scrutinised by clients. PRs can no longer lean back and pass the baton to someone else when it comes to measurement and technology. As a PR professional, if you think data isn’t for you, 2024 will have you think again.

So, what are the major trends PRs need to keep an eye on next year?

Since the 2008 financial crash, the world has felt like it’s been in constant crisis - or ‘permacrisis’, as the Collins dictionary named the word of the year in 2022. No longer can PRs and agencies run the risk of being seen as costly activity centres not clearly demonstrating their value. CFOs will focus relentlessly on suppliers that can help boost performance or cut costs. If PRs cannot demonstrate the link between their tactics and organisational objectives, they will be on the budget chopping block.

Aware of this, more PR agencies will turn to measurement as a point of differentiation for winning and retaining clients. The industry is already seeing a shift in interest levels in how to provide meaningful measurement. Moving beyond counts and amounts to measuring value in a meaningful manner, is a trend PRs should expect to continue. 

Measurement in 2024 will go beyond the noise to real-time analytics on how communications impact emotion, provoke behaviour and drive desired actions. Organisations will demand to know how PR supports organisational objectives, builds reputations and accelerates sales. Be warned, just plucking a number out of a black box, and calling it ‘impact’ will bear no credibility. It’s time for the industry to lean in, do the hard work and demonstrate its value.


With generative AI accelerating content creation at a massive scale, the amount of noise in the communications landscape will increase exponentially. This will accelerate the ongoing decline in attention, and the deliberate news avoidance by younger generations identified by the Reuters Institute and Oxford University will continue apace.

The rapid changes to search will continue to disadvantage the mainstream media from the Google algorithm and the increasing use of AI-driven context-led search. The mainstream media will counter this with quick, snappy and easy-to-digest content to battle declining direct site visits, diminishing eyeball counts, and three-minute site visits. PRs can expect much more from the mainstream media of short snackable content, especially video and other portrait-oriented content.

There should be a responsibility for PRs whilst cutting through to reach critical target audiences to not add to the 'doom-scrolling' culture. Keeping research up to date about your audiences and stakeholders will be critical. Do you understand them well enough, who or what influences them.


ChatGPT pulled the innovation trigger for AI this year. AI has created unimaginable opportunities for innovation, and businesses have scrambled to get a first bite of the cherry. After the initial hype and excitement, there are signs that we’re currently sitting in the trough of disillusionment. However, cracks have started to show. AI’s hallucinations and unreliable responses have caused people and organisations to acknowledge its limitations and the ongoing value of humans in the process.

Over the next 12 months, AI will be on the long march up towards the slope of enlightenment. Here lies the opportunity for PRs to differentiate rather than dumb down. Rather than falling victim to errors and pumping out average content and more ‘plagiarism soup’, the industry should use the freedom from repetitive, trivial tasks to double down on fact-checking, enrichment and adding value and critical thinking for stakeholders.


2024 will be an exciting but challenging year for PR. There is a steep hill to climb when it comes to audience engagement. Measurement is now a point of differentiation for maintaining and winning those all-important budgets. The attention economy is becoming shorter, and AI is driving communication in previously unimaginable ways.