From budget cuts and digital transformation drivers, to the generative AI battle that rages on – the PR and Marketing lessons learned that are shaping 2024

At IBA we’re never ones to sit on our laurels, so to kickstart 2024 we’ve taken a look at HubSpot’s recent Marketing, Sales, and CX Pulse Check report to see what PR and Marketing lessons from 2023 can be taken forward into the New Year. The report surveyed over 900 cross-industry marketing, sales, and customer success managers on the trends, challenges, and opportunities they faced during 2023 to see how we can optimize our own strategies for our clients.

Here’s a quick 2023 reminder. From managers being asked to do more on decreasing budgets and the importance of progressing digital transformation efforts, to the pros and cons of AI in the workplace – 2023 was a year for adaption and trialing new technology, which provides the perfect stage for PR and Marketing use cases of what worked well and what still needs to be polished!

With the backdrop set, strap in as we take you on a whistle stop tour of the top three standouts. As 2024 campaigns get underway, first up is budgets:

Budget reductions – but digital transformation journeys must stay on track

2023 was a difficult economic year for all industries, especially the Marketing industry. During the second half of 2023, 63% of marketers experienced budget reduction between 5-10%, which resulted in managers being asked to meet the same level of work expectations with less finances.

PR and Marketing objectives have been heavily impacted both in the long and short term, with 40% of respondents in the HubSpot report confessing they’ve been unable to react quickly to customer behaviors. So how can you do more with less?

Here’s our first lesson learned from 2023. We’re advocates here of how content marketing can step in to maximize marketing spend and deliver more ‘bang for buck’ when it comes to brand awareness and industry leadership if written, repurposed, and placed correctly.

If 2023 was the Year of AI, where does that leave 2024? Gen AI comes with a Handle with Care label

Content created using Generative AI I hear you say? It would be impossible to speak about the lessons learned from 2023 in the world of PR and Marketing without talking about Generative AI and the opportunities and challenges it has brought the industry.

AI has taken the industry by storm with 59% of Hubspot marketing manager saying that AI had helped them to be creative. This does not fully reflect IBA’s view on the use of AI in marketing – admin yes, reports yes, creativity no. The most powerful creative tool is and always will be the human brain.

We would argue that despite the widespread emergence of AI, PR and Marketing professionals need to proceed with caution in 2024 when looking to use or adopt AI into their work practices – particularly when it comes to the ethical and legal consideration. At IBA we’ve become very familiar with the impact AI is having across our industry, as seen a couple of weeks ago when we released our own AI policy.

It was heartening to see the Hubspot report find that many PR and Marketings pros are becoming more aware of AI’s limitations with the primary concern for over half (56%) of marketing mangers being security and privacy issues such as data breaches.

We’ve already seen plenty of examples of companies being caught out by the misuse of AI, and top media getting stringent about the provenance of submitted content. We’ve got the first case going through with the New York Times suing Open AI and Microsoft, so watch this space.

So, the second lesson learned for 2024 – Generative AI comes with a Handle with Care label.

It’s all about tools – what can we learn?

The pressure is mounting on data analytics to help PR and Marketing professionals improve their customer engagement, and in 2023, the HubSpot report reveals that many Marketing managers were focused on improving their customer engagement spanning three short-term priority areas: customer experience (28%), connecting social media engagement and analytics to the customer journey (27%), and expanding their channel strategy to reach more customers (27%).

But here’s the 2023 flip side. Two out of three managers from the HubSpot report understood that they needed improved analytics tools to help them achieve their short-term customer engagement goals. Marketing managers felt they couldn’t get their hands on the right data analytics tools to make them more reactive and proactive to customer demands.

The lesson learned? This is where AI and better employee training can help PR and Marketing professionals correctly utilize the technology available to help them improve customer and prospect engagement.

So the third lesson learned – the right analytics are good, Analysis Paralysis is to be avoided at all costs.

Sam Walker is PR Executive at IBA International.

Leave a comment