Five Digital PR Trend Predictions for 2024
The media landscape never stands still, which means that Digital PR activity can’t either! We’ve predicted what tactics and topics are likely to be most effective in 2024 and how clients can benefit from this.
A combination of proactivity and reactivity is key to any successful Digital PR strategy, and that means it’s vital to keep abreast of the latest tactics and trending topics, and ultimately learn from previous wins and challenges.
But the news agenda moves at pace, which can make it tricky to stay up to date or get ahead.
While it’s hard to predict exactly what 2024 will bring, there are a few story or content areas where we can be pretty confident that demand will remain high or further increase.
Similarly, there are certain tactics that – while not new – are becoming important again and need to be factored into promotion or delivery efforts.
Here are our thoughts on what to expect from next year, and how to not only react but prepare for this.
1) Trending on TikTok
TikTok may not be new, but its growth and impact on what media we consume and how we consume it is significant. Some are even calling TikTok the new Google…
Recognising its popularity, throughout 2023 many journalists have been searching for trending topics on TikTok and then creating stories around these.
As we go into 2024, we predict that this is only set to become more commonplace, as the line between social media and news media blurs.
What this means for PRs is that TikTok has become something we can’t ignore – and it’s fairly relevant no matter what industry sector you’re operating in. This platform covers pretty much all ground from home and property through to travel.
Whereas a PR may have previously ‘reacted’ to a TikTok trend ad hoc (and potentially quite slowly), identifying growing topic areas and prepping comments or content in advance is going to be more important. That means constant monitoring!
Building up a bank of approved comments is great to help ensure a speedy turnaround, but it won’t cover you entirely – there will still be a need to do things ad hoc, as it can be hard to predict what’s coming and plan ahead for this.
Two areas of TikTok that can be effective for brands planning to ‘react’ with content are busting myths and testing hacks.
When a new myth or hack starts to go viral, providing expert commentary on IF these are recommended or not, any risks or benefits, time and money required and so on can be a really good way to put your brand and expert in the conversation.
This content should ideally be presented in the form of both a response video AND text copy that can be pitched out to press. More on this in point two!
2) Short-Form Videos
Linking in with point one is the rise in demand for short-form video amongst the UK media.
Short-form video is great for the press because it keeps ‘the reader’ (or in this instance ‘the viewer’) engaged for longer.
More time spent on-site improves a publisher’s ability to sell and make money from advertising space. And if there is one thing we’ve all learned about the media in 2023, it’s that they really NEED advertisers to increase spend, so they don’t have to lay off staff.
The ideal situation with a short-form video for the press is that you have an expert talking about something highly topical – answering a specific question, busting a myth, showing you how to do something, explaining how to save money somewhere.
Most PRs will already be creating these types of reaction or expert commentary pieces anyway, just in text format. We now need to add that video edit into the mix, too.
The video itself could have already been posted on TikTok, or it could be something created just for press.
If an expert isn’t comfortable going ‘on-screen’ then animation could be used to create these instead, although this process may be slower.
The main thing is that they don’t have to be super swish – they should feel very ‘real’. They also only need to be short – less than 30 seconds in length is ideal, and the press typically wants an embeddable link rather than the whole video file.
When pitching out, offering not only a ready-to-publish expert-led story, but also a potential advertising-revenue-driving video asset, is a lot more compelling, which means they’re a lot more likely to use what is sent – and that means more coverage and more links!
3) More Good News
Let’s be honest, 2023 has been a tough year. With rising living costs and inflation, and a summer of storms, many people are looking for a bit of light relief.
While genuinely useful and informative content is expected to remain KEY in 2024, supplementing this with some ‘good news’ stories or escapism-style assets is something we’ll be recommending to many of our consumer-facing clients.
Ideally, these stories should have some topical or seasonal hooks still, so there is a ‘why now’ angle for when they’re being pitched, but the actual heart of the piece should be fun, playful and ultimately shareable.
- Revealing the UK’s sexiest bald man
- Sharing a list of 20 cute dogs that are ready for adoption
- Inviting people to apply for a weird ‘dream job’ (yes, these campaigns do seem to be making a comeback)
- Providing stats on the UK’s favourite biscuits
- Asking people to nominate a kind neighbour to win a prize
You can see, there are lots of different variations of this to work with.
Another option is to go down the escapism route. While brainteasers and optical illusions have no real story or keyword relevancy behind them, they are nice visual assets for press – again keeping their readers onsite for longer – and they can get you a lot of links and even go viral if you create an especially tricky design.
It’d be a bit weird if this one didn’t make the list, given it’s been a REALLY big topic of conversation in 2023. And as we go into 2024, with AI tools continuing to develop at super-speed, it’s only natural that this is set to remain in the limelight.
There are a few ways we are already using AI as part of our Digital PR work, and we’re keeping a close eye on (and regularly testing) tools, to ensuring we’re not missing any tricks!
Some of the ways we expect to be using AI in 2024 include:
- To generate imagery through tools like Midjourney and DALL-E
- To help identify data sources
- To help write survey questions
- To help analyse survey data
- To craft headline variations for different media
- To get the AI’s take on how something should be done – for example its recommendations on how to write a wedding speech or layout your CV
It is of course very likely that other AI solutions will come along too that may help with desk research, writing, producing media lists, and even pitching to press.
We’ll be keeping a finger on the pulse, finding and trying new tools or systems and reporting back to our clients on what’s good ongoing.
This one feels like a blast from the past, but it’s something we’ve seen make a resurgence in recent months.
While the goal of most PRs is to get as many good results as possible for their clients with each release / story, in this increasingly competitive arena, press don’t always want to publish your comment or stats if they can see it has already been featured elsewhere.
We’re getting more and more replies to pitch emails with ‘has this gone to anyone else’, and ‘has this already been used by anyone else’ – and if the answer is ‘yes’, then more often than not that journalist is not going to feature what we’ve sent.
This means that, when pitching out something new, we need to consider if and how we plan and prioritise more. While not every release should be handled in this way – especially the time-sensitive ones, stories that are topical but don’t have to be used ‘today’ should ideally be pitched to a specific target contact first and offered to them as an exclusive.
If they’re interested, then any PRs will want to find out when they will use it (so they can plan the rest of their outreach to follow). Once the article is live, a second wave of promotion can progress as the story has already broken and is in the public domain.
The downside of offering more exclusives is of course that some other press may not like that they didn’t get it first (so you do need to think carefully about who you go to). You may also find that in general you get fewer results – although this is likely to become the norm anyway. Gone are the days of 500 results from a single release (unless you’re really lucky).
The main plus is that it can lead to one incredibly strong result on a wishlist title though – one that probably wouldn’t have been earned with a ‘spray and pray’ pitching approach (if you know, you know).
Nationals – especially broadsheets – are much more likely to expect an exclusive, but some ‘competition’ does exist between other publishers too. For example, The Sun are less likely to take a story they can see was featured by The Mirror, and Newsquest regionals are sometimes less likely to take a story that has already gone out across the National World or Reach Regional networks.
Ultimately, while this can feel a little frustrating at times and appear to slow things down, nurtured media relationships and better-quality coverage really is worth it!
If you’re interested in finding out more about our Digital PR services, please get in touch.