Part 1: Expert Predictions For PR in 2024

In 2023, the public relations industry faced a turning point with the rise of artificial intelligence. The UK government’s report, ‘Impact of AI on UK Jobs and Training’, identified PR professionals as one of the top groups likely to be affected by AI advancements. This change is reshaping the way PR operates, pushing towards a blend of technology and traditional skills.

For 2024, experts predict that AI’s role in PR will grow stronger. However, as noted by Stephen Waddington, an agency advisor, AI’s contribution to content creation is just one aspect. The core of PR, which involves nuanced decision-making and emotional intelligence, remains beyond AI’s reach. This trend in 2023 is setting the stage for PR professionals in 2024 to adapt and integrate AI tools while preserving the human touch that is essential in public relations.


Our Experts:


Gabrielle Dunbar, Managing Partner, Champion Communications
Will Ockenden, Director & Co Founder, Prohibition PR
Zharina Arnaldo, Partner and Global Media Director, Milk & Honey PR
Jane Hunt, Founder and CEO, JBH
Holly Scott, Digital PR Manager, Distinctly
Niki Hutchinson, Founder and MD, LarkHill PR
Jack Doyle, Senior Account Manager, Skout PR
Alex Warren, Technology PR Professional, Wildfire & Author, ‘Spin Machines’
Megan Boyle, Head of Content & digital PR, TAL Agency
Jason Weekes, Commercial Director, CARMA
Saffron Shergill, Digital PR Manager, Digital Ethos

Gabrielle Dunbar, Managing Partner, Champion Communications


“PR teams have our work cut out for us in 2024 as it will be a seminal election year for tech brands on both sides of the Atlantic. With polarised politics, companies can’t stay silent on issues like online privacy, AI ethics or internet regulation that impact public opinion. The days brands could hide behind innovation cliches are over.

My advice to PR advisors: Push execs to take clear, research-backed stances detailing the specific reforms and standards they want prioritised post-election. Don’t wait until the media is demanding reactions. Guide leaders to get ahead of the discourse by penning op-eds articulating their visions now. Position top talent for non-partisan roundtables digging into nuances beyond the slogans.

Tech brands that play a proactive role in shaping productive election issue debates, rather than speculating from the sidelines, will be remembered by politicians, journalists, and customers as forces for good after the 2024 dust settles.

We should focus on advising PR strategies that move tech companies from the tense middle ground towards defining their own informed standards and visions backed by expertise. When trillions in market value hinge on public trust emerging in tech, PR advisors can’t afford to leave leadership without a compass. 2024 requires voices of reason, not reaction.”


Will Ockenden, Director & Co Founder, Prohibition PR



“Business podcasting – though by no means new – is set to go bigger than ever in 2024. It’s already one of the best content marketing mediums around (for example, 80% of people listen to an ENTIRE podcast episode) but developments in AI, as well as the growing dominance of snackable video platforms like TikTok, mean podcasting is evolving into something altogether sharper and more integrated.

A one-hour episode now goes way beyond a simple audio upload, generating a suite of AI-predicted viral video clips, extensive show notes with highlights, long-form video content, a wealth of organic and paid content, plus a whole lot more. For the marketer, not only is this is an amazing investment of time and budget, but it’s a medium that can build trust like nothing else, and supercharges your lead gen.”


Zharina Arnaldo, Partner and Global Media Director, Milk & Honey PR



“2023 has been a very challenging year for PR given the global economy and many clients tightening their purse strings; agencies have their work cut out for them in 2024 to really stand out from the crowd.

One focus should be the marriage of PR and AI. There’s no question that AI is here to stay, and agencies should harness this invaluable tool to revolutionise the way they work: from capturing deeper insights through AI-powered analytics, or brainstorming ideas through generative AI. But there needs to be a very careful, considered approach, keeping ethics intact and taking human input into account. It’s a tricky balancing act, one that the industry will continuously need to navigate – and adopting a startup ‘test and iterate’ approach will stand agencies in good stead.

In 2024 there will also be increasing scrutiny on companies communicating their purpose. With a slew of regulations being put in place, companies are becoming duty-bound to report on their ESG commitments. Sceptics will say this opens the floodgates to greenwashing; but this also presents an incredible opportunity for the PR industry to prove them wrong by employing an authentic approach to communications and ensuring the integrity of stories being told.”


Jane Hunt, Founder and CEO, JBH


“With the huge amount of influential voices discussing how the technological advancements in AI is going to leave digital PRs without jobs over the next few years, I can see why – as an industry – we’ve been somewhat skeptical about the unknown impact it will have moving forward.

That being said – and after spending time with my team scratching the surface of how AI can improve our offerings at JBH – I think that AI will be INSTRUMENTAL in improving the core aspects of the digital PR process.

As digital PR experts, AI is already helping us to identify the most relevant keywords, topics and audiences with the best fit for our clients, to ideate more effectively using historial campaign examples and data to backup strategies when pitching to clients, and to strategise where on client websites we should be directing links to for maximum impact, negating the need for manual research.

Relevancy is key, and AI is also helping digital PR’s with the crafting of exclusive pitches and content to specifically match with and target publications that clients are looking for placements within.

Of course, despite all of its benefits, AI can only get us so far, the rest is up to us to work out how to use it best – without overreliance – to improve our performance for the different brands we work with.”


Holly Scott, Digital PR Manager, Distinctly



“This year, the PR industry has had to navigate several challenges that are not only impacting the industry’s reputation and future but the way we carry out our day-to-day work and processes.

The emergence and popularity of generative AI and tools such as ChatGPT have caused divided opinions among leaders in the PR industry. Some are of the impression that AI will lead to job losses due to the platform’s ability to carry out responsibilities associated with PR professionals day to day tasks. Other leaders believe that ‘people still buy from people’ and that AI will create an opportunity for those willing to embrace it. I’m definitely of that mindset.


Monitor for reactive opportunities

This year, we’ve seen multiple cuts made to well-known media house brands, the most recent being Reach PLC. In November, the publisher decided to slash 13 of its online brands as part of its ongoing programme of cutbacks. In 2024, reactive PR will be a vital strategy to generate coverage for brands and connect journalists with relevant experts.

However, the focus will intensify on getting as many eyeballs on a page as possible to show what journalists are doing is adding value to a site. PRs will need to ensure that the insights they provide aren’t just sent in a quick-fire outreach to show they are being ‘reactive’ but to provide meaningful answers, making the reader want to remain on the page. Reactive PR will not just be responding to relevant stories trending in the news, but identifying the trend themselves.”


Niki Hutchinson, Founder and MD, LarkHill PR



“2024 is going to be the year of elections (both UK and US). From a UK perspective, this will open some interesting opportunities (beyond the Public Affairs remit and in line with the rules) for clients looking to increase brand awareness and be a central part of the media conversation and narrative when it comes to backing funding for their specific industries. Think infrastructure projects such as EV, telecoms, transport, as well as healthcare services i.e., mental health.

“When it comes to PR and comms budgets, it is highly likely the squeeze of 2023 will continue – especially with technology and telecoms clients. With it comes a razor-sharp focus on value and delivering measurable results, and the potential for agencies to be asked to do more for less. As an industry, this is not a time to cut – or become overly competitive with – our rates, but to stand our ground and prove our worth.”


Jack Doyle, Senior Account Manager, Skout PR



A year to measure impact

“Measurement will continue to dominate conversations in the PR space next year, but the focus will be on more than just ‘outcomes’. At Skout, we’ve worked closely with several clients this year to understand how we can better measure the ‘impact’ of our PR work in relation to their broader business objectives. Sure, it’s great to secure coverage in a national newspaper or a major tech title.

But with marketing budgets set to come under increasing scrutiny next year, agencies will need to step their measurement game up in order to prove their ROI to clients. For B2B, each client will have different objectives, so ditch the “one size fits all” approach and consider how you can offer more bespoke measurement that delivers real insight to their marketing team.

There is also an opportunity for agencies to provide more education in 2024 around the purpose of PR, from a brand-building perspective. That clipping you secured in The Telegraph may not have generated direct leads for your client, but it doesn’t always begin and end there. With only 5% of category buyers ‘in-market’ for goods and services at any given time, it has introduced their brand to the other 95% who will be looking to buy at a later stage.


Out with Lazy AI

Generative AI has also been a hot topic in B2B marketing this year, but is anyone else getting a bit bored of it?

Like most marketers, I’ve experimented with ChatGPT this year to see how it can support daily tasks and have found it a bit underwhelming. I can usually spot a piece that’s been written by AI from a mile off, with the generic phrases and lack of personality being a dead giveaway.

In the B2B space – where we are often tasked with writing about complex issues and emerging technologies – language models such as ChatGPT become even less reliable, as they lack the capabilities to write content that is factual and stands out from competitors.

A piece of fast fashion from Shein could never compete with designer couture, and in 2024, this same principle applies to content. I expect to see ‘AI fatigue’ develop in 2024, with publications enforcing stricter editorial guidelines when it comes to AI-written content.

Instead, B2B PRs should be working AI into their campaigns as an accessory. We know (from speaking with journalists) that visuals can sometimes be neglected as an after-thought for B2B brands, and corporate headshots are becoming less compelling in today’s competitive news cycle.

So, why not explore some AI-powered tools to bring your campaign to life in 2024? It’s something I’ve seen digital PRs achieve great success with this year (including that controversial remote worker campaign…) If B2B brands treaded more carefully, they could also use AI imagery to their advantage.”


Alex Warren, Technology PR Professional, Wildfire & Author, ‘Spin Machines’



“Thanks to generative AI, many of the jobs that used to be farmed out to PR agencies may soon move in-house. From keeping tabs on the media to brainstorming ideas, even cranking out articles and social posts, AI is coming for PR agencies’ lunch.

In this brave new world, agencies need to think beyond churn. We need to stop valuing ourselves in terms of how many campaigns we run, how much content we produce, or how many press releases we cram into a scope of work.

Instead, the agency role will increasingly revolve around great consultancy. Having the experience to help clients figure out what success really means for them — what ‘good’ looks like.

To do that, we need to embrace AI, rather than fearing it. Agencies like Wildfire are already launching codes of conduct for AI — something we should expect many PR firms to do in 2024. For me, the role of these guidelines is to be transparent with clients about the AI tools we use, but also to ensure AI is never left to its own devices. We always need a human layer, providing real-world experience and advice. That’s where PR agencies will have a vital role to play.”


Megan Boyle, Head of Content & digital PR, TAL Agency



A Focus on Empathy

“The world’s events have taken a turn in recent years, and as such have dominated the news. It’s harder for PRs to gain coverage for their clients, especially those who aren’t household names or don’t have huge budgets for groundbreaking research.

Knowing your audience may be PR 101, but being empathetic and understanding, showing you care about what’s happening in the world and how it affects readers takes it to the next level.

Readers everywhere are having to navigate a world overloaded with sales pitches and sponsors – a lot of people don’t trust what they read – and journalists know this. It’s never been more important to be empathetic and authentic. To achieve authenticity, it’s important to share real stories, or stories that help people. Engage in meaningful conversations, and show the human side of your business – we’re all going through what’s happening in the world right now. Aim for your communications and messages to strike an emotional chord with the intended audience, in order to spark a genuine connection.


The Support of AI

AI has been the buzzword of 2023, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Rather than ‘taking our jobs’, PRs should embrace AI and the benefits it can offer, to a certain extent. AI is a powerful and useful tool, but only when it’s done properly.

As clever as it may be, AI can’t develop unique ideas or think creatively. It can’t put things into context and process emotions. And while it can collect data and analyse, it can’t interpret what that actually means. All these things can only be done by real people.

Instead of relying completely on AI or avoiding it completely, find a middle ground. When it comes to PR and content creation, AI can be used to enhance efficiency and improve productivity. Use it to streamline tasks – or take some off your hands entirely – leaving you as a PR the time and headspace to refine those creative ideas. Because that’s what journalists and readers are looking for at the end of the day.”


Jason Weekes, Commercial Director, CARMA



“As companies continue to defend PR budgets, planning and measurement will become even more important over the next 12 months. Data and knowledge will trump gut feeling to protect PRs through a recovering yet hesitant and challenging trading climate.

The old volume-based metrics for measuring communication are becoming less relevant as clients look for ways to measure target audience engagement. An awareness of how users engage with earned media through merchandising on other channels will lead to more interest in what the public is searching around your brand – it is an unfiltered insight into brand associations.”


Saffron Shergill, Digital PR Manager, Digital Ethos



“In 2024, I am predicting to see a focus industry-wide from brands tapping into their sustainability initiatives and pushing these via their PR efforts. Brands are waking up to the fact that consumers are laser-focused on sustainability, and it’s not just a passing trend.

The biggest challenge for brands when it comes to sustainability PR will be understanding that their customers are going to be holding them accountable. People want to know that their favourite brands are doing more than just talking the talk. I want to warn brands – please be sure to avoid the greenwashing trap. It’s not enough for brands to slap an eco-friendly label on things; they’ve got to walk the walk. That means real, legitimate efforts toward being green and being open about it.

PR strategies need a serious makeover. It’s not about crafting some fancy narrative; it’s about making sure the whole company is on board with sustainability. Brands need to show they’re not just in it for the good PR but are making real changes.

Consumers can sniff out fakeness from a mile away. Brands need to get down and dirty, showing they’re committed to sustainability in a way that feels honest. In 2024, it’s not just about saying the right things; it’s about doing them and shouting it from the rooftops in a way that feels genuine.”