As we step into 2024, have you considered what’s on the cards for the ever-evolving world of connections and campaigns? From the rise of relevancy to focusing on the metrics that really matter (hint: it’s not DA), read on to unearth our predicted trends and twists that’ll set the tone for digital PRs and in-house marketers in the new year.
7 digital PR trends forecasted for 2024 and beyond
1. Relevancy over virality, every time
Relevancy rules the roost, no matter your role. Whether you’re a digital PR whizz or an in-house marketer, keeping relevancy front and centre is key when crafting a stellar digital PR campaign. It’s disheartening that it’s often relegated to just another ‘buzzword’. Yet, as we edge into 2024, the sad truth persists: too many digital PRs are chasing irrelevant links and topics in the pursuit of mere ‘numbers’.
In 2024, the days of celebrating a digital PR campaign purely because it went ‘viral’ are fading fast. While it’s a thrill and gives you bragging rights amongst peers, as digital PR professionals and in-house marketers, our real triumph lies in sculpting hyper-relevant link-building strategies that precisely hit those crucial KPIs. Your KPI may be to land links on niche, new domains, or generate links from specific sections of a publication such as health instead of lifestyle. Perhaps you want to generate links with relevant anchor text related to your focus keywords. Or your goal may be to generate more coverage for your in-house expert to help demonstrate E-E-A-T.
Plus, journalists are increasingly weary of receiving digital PR pitches that bear no relation to the client or expert being pitched. You see this all of the time on Twitter. You’d be lucky to get blocked and not outed online which could land you, your agency and your client in trouble depending on how ruthless the journalists’ followers are. And, with the journalism landscape seeing more layoffs, being blacklisted isn’t a list you’d want to land on.
2. DA doesn’t matter but here are the metrics that do
It’s high time that digital PRs and in-house marketers reframe how they discuss digital PR metrics in 2024.
Our Senior Performance Consultant, Lucy Dodds, delved into this in detail in her recent blog post covering the importance of reporting on digital PR metrics that can actually drive revenue. Long gone are the days when digital PRs should be reporting on the total number of links and domain authority (DA). If that’s your primary metric, it’s unlikely to move the needle and believe me, that might lead to some awkward conversations down the line.
Brands are expecting more than just surface-level metrics; they want substantial insights and concrete value from their digital PR efforts. As Lucy rightly points out, it’s about switching from the quantity game to the quality game. Forget all of those alphabet soup metrics—DA, DR, TF—it’s time to focus on metrics that truly matter: keyword rankings (relevancy strikes again!), relevant organic traffic, and organic revenue.
Spend 2024 upskilling in metric measurement. This isn’t just a cosmetic change in reporting; it’s a fundamental shift towards metrics that genuinely impact a brand’s success. By zeroing in on these meaningful metrics, digital PR pros can show the real, measurable value they bring to the table in driving organic growth.
3. Social media strategies should be aligned
91% of people want to see more video content from brands in 2024, proving that there’s a real hunger for visual engagement. As digital PRs and internal marketers, it’s important that we tap into this desire for video content by weaving it into our digital PR strategies. Not only can it be our golden ticket for capturing the attention of our audience, but it can help foster more meaningful connections.
There are various ways to do this. For example, you can use TikTok’s Creator Centre to unearth trending hashtags relevant to your industry. Crafting reactive campaigns in response to these trends can propel your digital PR efforts to new heights, and highlight you as an ‘authoritative’ voice in your industry.
Additionally, weaving short-form videos into your PR campaigns can work wonders. These snippets pack a punch, allowing you to convey compelling narratives that resonate powerfully with your audience. Plus, this makes journalists more likely to cover your campaign as video content keeps you on their page for longer, therefore, increasing the article’s engagement rate.
What’s more, amplifying your press releases via social media allows you to reach a wider audience. This not only expands your reach to a broader audience but also ignites engagement that serves as a secondary angle for your digital PR campaign. Or it can catch a journalist’s eye and spark an organic pick-up – aka the absolute dream!
Finally, you can create interactive campaigns that encourage user participation. For example, we recently created a competition for our client, adventure dog specialists Ruffwear, in which we looked for the ‘Muddiest Dog’ in all of the UK. This competition was then shared across the clients social media channels in order to drive participants to the competition page.
Our social media services are designed to seamlessly integrate campaign strategies tailored to meet our clients’ needs. We prioritise identifying campaigns that resonate with their target audiences, aiming to not only boost revenue but also foster meaningful engagement.
4. Reactive PR can cut through the noise of more PRs and fewer journalists
While big, attention-grabbing hero campaigns once stole the spotlight in digital PR, 2024 is ushering in a significant shift towards reactive PR. And let me tell you, if you’re a digital PR or internal marketer, this shift is exhilarating. It’s where you can explore your inner creativity, focus on your passions and show why AI can never replace you.
From seizing pop culture moments to reporting on legislative changes, and from uncovering the latest TikTok trend to commenting on award-show fashion choices, the opportunities for reactive engagement are boundless. There’s also the thrill of brainstorming, creating the campaign, promoting the campaign and securing the links within a few hours, which feels fantastic when you outpace your previous record too.
Jokes aside, the real deal in 2024 is reactive PR. Anticipating a surge in journalist redundancies and more journalists transitioning to digital PR, breaking through the noise has become an uphill battle. Reactivity—swiftly latching onto trending topics and promptly addressing journalist needs—sets you apart in this competitive landscape.
This proactive stance can also demonstrate ‘expertise’ and ‘authority’ (E-E-A-T) when done right, too.
5. Verification that experts are authentic and credible
Unfortunately, some digital PRs use AI tools such as Chat GPT and Bard to quickly answer expert comments as a means of securing the ‘link’ instead of thinking about the implications of sending inaccurate information. Whilst some have been outed on Twitter, the most shocking is an infamous Tweet when a journalist was tricked into using a fake expert as part of an AI content experiment. Understandably, this has led to many journalists asking for additional measures to prove that sources are, in fact, real.
Whilst one approach is to create a thorough author profile that displays an in-house expert’s credentials, experience, professional photograph, social media handles and featured comments, this isn’t enough for some journalists. There’s a lack of trust for some – especially for those that cover more weighty subjects, such as healthcare or politics – so many journalists are choosing to skip written answers to questions for their articles. Instead, they require a face-to-face Zoom call or a phone call to validate that the expert insight stems from an authentic source.
6. Pitch perfect: personalisation is key
In 2024, every single seeding list and pitch should be personalised for journalists. As previously mentioned, PRs are on the rise and journalists are on the decrease making it harder to steal the spotlight for your client. So, imagine how a journalist will feel if amongst a sea of spam emails, they found a perfect pitch that cuts through the clutter due to being custom-made for them.
I recently wrote about the power of building authentic relationships with journalists, and one of the key ways I do this is by strategically thinking of who I contact and with what as opposed to a ‘spray and pray’ approach.
After all, this survey has revealed that the majority (48%) of journalists receive 100 pitches per day, more than a third get about 200 and nearly 15% get between 250 and 499 pitches per day!
Not only will personalisation help you grab their attention but it’ll help you stand out from the advent of AI-generated content.
7. Using AI to enhance your digital PR efforts
When Chat GPT gained 1 million users within the first five days of its launch in 2022, it sparked a natural fear that we were all going to be replaced by robots. But here’s the truth: human-generated content remains the cornerstone of authenticity and creativity in digital PR, and that isn’t going to go anywhere… or at least not in 2024.
Sure, AI tools like Bard and Chat GPT offer efficiency, but they heavily rely on the content that people create. Without our human touch and input, these tools would essentially be left high and dry. Moreover, the limitations of AI’s lack of access to recent data, reports and news raises concerns about its inaccuracies, particularly if you’re creating content for the health industry or another serious industry alike. It’s also one of the many reasons that Google introduced a Helpful Content Update earlier this year and urged SEOs to focus on accuracy and a “people-first” mentality when producing content.
So, whilst AI is unlikely to replace content generation in 2024, it can certainly complement your digital PR efforts and make you more efficient (which is my personal buzzword!). In 2024, AI will serve as a valuable tool for proofreading, inspiration, data analysis and even supporting design and imagery for digital PR campaigns.