The ever-evolving role of Public Relations – Question everything

We live in a demanding era – one that is always evolving. To stay at the ‘top of your
game’ means you need to remain agile, as clients require consultants that can guide
them through the noise. And let’s be honest, the business landscape is no longer what it
used to be; multiple variables now come into play, from ongoing economic challenges,
changing employee dynamics, the socio-political landscape to name just a few – and all
this needs to be understood, while still building a brand that is ethical, sustainable, and
As we wind down and prepare for the new year, there are certainly a few things that
have taken place this year, which will likely remain for years to come – and this means,
really getting to grips with them for the benefit of our clients and, of course, ensure that
as professionals, we remain as sharp as ever.

  • AI: While the technology has been around for years, its latest development and
    advancement have raised numerous concerns across industries, and PR was not
    spared. There have been some discussions that it will replace the function, but
    the reality is quite the opposite. So, while PR consultants need to view AI as a
    tool that can help us (work smarter, not harder) I don’t believe many have moved
    beyond using is as a tool for ideation. We are all still trying to figure out IP and
    copyright implications as well as legal ownership, as it where – but next year – AI
    will present more than this for our industry – it will present change.
  • Authenticity in Thought Leadership: The need for thought leadership in PR
    will never change – but, advocacy for originality and authenticity has really
    become a determining factor in this tactic in the last year – and next year if
    brands want to have a voice, their credibility will be tested more than ever.
  • Visual and Audio Content: Traditional content is still being consumed, and this
    is unlikely to change. However, this year we have seen the impact of diversifying
    and exploring other avenues, which consumers use. As more and more people
    digitally access their content, as well as the convenience that audio and video
    content providers, this so-called change in consumption one aspect PR
    professionals must not ignore going into 2024. Several brands have already
    embraced podcasts and vodcasts, and this is something that will continue to
  • Online Reputation Management: Yes, PR watch and listen to social media
    channels, but far too few are using social media as the voice that informs them
    around the ‘authentic’ sentiment of the brands they manage. Positive or
    negative, social media can be very useful, and even more so for issues/crisis
    management. And its impact goes beyond reputation management; it can be
    leveraged for building two-way communication between brands and customers,
    media, and stakeholders – something that needs to be embraced in the new year.
  • Influencer Audits: Authenticating brand partnerships is now also crucial for
    campaigns. In 2023, we saw influencers under the microscope for not being
    truthful about who they are, which not only damages their reputation but that of
    the brands they “represent.” In turn, this has a negative reflection on the PR
    team recommending the influencers. An influencer audit must go beyond the
    influencer’s social profiles but includes authenticating any qualifications or past commentary where a campaign relies on the influencer’s professional expertise. How we do this, correctly, in the 2024 will be telling for the whole sector.

PR is a profession that evolves and adapts with time, and so should the professionals
that work within this sector – never stop learning, never stop asking questions. Growth
Is not only being willing to upskill and learn what works for the industry as the world
changes, but understanding how it can benefit clients and the elevation of our industry.

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Refilwe Monyai

Refilwe Monyai

Senior Strategic Comms Lead

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