Four key takeaways from Cision’s 2024 State of Global Comms Report

The tides are changing in 2024 as the C-suite seek the counsel of PR and Comms teams even more than in previous years, particularly when it comes to making informed business decisions because of the impact PR, Comms, and the growing use of social advocacy boards can have on the bottom line and customer growth. So how will PR and Comms professionals step up to the plate?

Cision and PRWeek Global Comms report surveys industry professionals from across the world to provide a snapshot of shifting and emerging trends, and what they mean for communicators moving forward. As we’ve done in previous years, we’ve gone through the 2024 report with a fine toothcomb so you don’t have to, and identified the four key takeaways!

This year’s trends show AI is still in the hot seat, as too is PR it would seem, but social media and influencer marketing are becoming more important than ever.

1. PR takes a seat at the top of the C-suite table

In our Cision’s 2023 Global Comms Report blog, we highlighted that PR and marketing teams were now viewed as trusty advisors to help with handling reputational issues as well as crises – with a direct line to the C-suite. This has been taken one step further as greater expectations are placed on PR and communicators to help move the business needle. As many as 92% of global communicators surveyed said their C-suite sought their counsel more than past years, particularly on business factors such as revenue, share of voice, and overall business values.

Over half (60%) of global comms professionals said that one of their biggest priorities in the eyes of their CEOs is to help build sustainable growth and value. This is a clear sign of increased responsibility and expectations for comms professionals to move the business needle and deliver proof of revenue and customer growth.

Also good to see the report identifying a growing corporate emphasis on growing brand equity with CEOs starting to see the power of communications to help grow brand reputation and build customer trust. As seen in one comment to Cision’s report “They …realize that reliable, authentic communication is essential for building consumer trust and managing brand reputation.”

It’s this third-party endorsement that cannot be replicated without earned media!

2. It’s 50:50 on metrics and measurement to drive PR strategies

But in order for comms pros to be able to accurately feed back to the C-suite, they will need to invest in data analytics tools to help demonstrate the impact they are having on the bottom line.

Not only do PR and marketing comms teams need to be multi-skilled when it comes to writing, communicating, and pitching, they – now data analytics is a necessary skill in their toolkit. At present, 42% of global comms professionals say they rely “very much so” on data and analytics, an increase of 12% when compared to last year’s report.

But still a staggering 50% of respondents are unable to measure PR impact and only 25% of comms pros said they “very much so” have the right tools to effectively measure and demonstrate the impact of their work.

But without the right tools, PR and Comms pros will have no way of feeding back how their campaigns are impacting on the business and run the risk of data paralysis.

Monitoring, measuring, and interpreting data will allow for PR teams to be able to inform and refine their PR strategy and messaging plans, and sit at the C-suite top table, with the data to support them  in their role of informing and measuring corporate response to crises and the impact on brand equity.

3. Influencer marketing and social media go hand in hand

B2B PR and Comms is all about engaging your brand with its customers to establish a reliable source of information and authentic brand voice. One of the most powerful ways of doing this is through influencer marketing – it’s all about choosing the right person to appeal and attract your audience. According to 57% of global comms leader, the most impactful influencers for their brands were everyday consumers – in the B2B world that’s your customers, beating celebrities and micro influencers.

Coupled with influencer marketing comes social media marketing – one of the most powerful ways for B2B brands to engage with influencers and customers, find out what’s hot in their industry, and scout out new opportunities. PR and Comm pros need to be proactive when it comes to social media – as we know only too well, it never sleeps with new platforms and trends constantly emerging.

Already we have seen the impact selecting the right influencers and the right social channels can have, just look at the “Olaplex” and “OlaDupé” campaign as a case in point! Yes, social media is a volatile place but PR and Comms pros need to adopt a strategy that is nimble enough to experiment on emerging platforms while ensuring they are engaging with the right audience for their brand and ensuring there is a return on investment.

4. AI: to adopt or not to adopt – the ongoing dilemma

Of course we could not talk about the year ahead without mentioning one of the main talking points of 2023 in the PR and Comms industry, Generative AI! The report highlights that the PR and Comms industry is moving with caution when it comes to adopting Gen AI, as only 32% of communications teams are regularly using Gen AI, 33% are using it infrequently, and only 27% are considering adopting it into the tool kits. And are we surprised?

Throughout 2023 our team at IBA has made our thoughts on Gen AI clear with its evident drawbacks when it comes to ethical issues surrounding data accuracy, misinformed news, and a lack of credible data. The issues don’t stop there though as the lack of regulations surrounding AI has been one of its main pain points. Yet despite this, Gen AI is still in its infancy and clearly isn’t something that can’t be brushed to one side. But our stance on Gen AI is that it has a long way to go before it can catch up with the most powerful tool in all PR pros toolkit the human brain.

How does 2024 shape up to 2023?

A year on from our last Cision Global Comms Report blog, things are shaping up slightly differently.

This year, all eyes are on data-driven PR strategies, new PR technologies, and the rise of influencer and social media marketing that has landed PR and comms a seat at the top C-suite table. and with great responsibility to move the business needle.

Sam Walker is PR Executive at IBA International.

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