There are so many changes in our industry as we enter 2024 and the focal points revolve around mastering audience understanding, enhancing brand education and awareness, and increasing productivity. Amidst this transformation, there's one constant that remains paramount – the significance of a brand's reputation.
The World Economic Forum estimates that up to 25% of a company’s market value is based on reputation. While this figure is substantial, it merely scratches the surface of the colossal impact it can have on an organization if not done well.
Anticipating the trends in the coming year, we foresee communications officially taking a seat in the boardroom, a massive departure from 'X' prompting exploration of alternative social platforms such as TikTok and Substack for B2B brands, and a convergence of internal and external communications, with employees emerging as a company’s#1 priority. And of course, the two pesky letters changing the world - AI - will continue to loom.
AxiosHQ recently published its 2024 trends report on the 8 key priorities for execs and comms leaders, and in talking with their Head of Content and Communication Strategy, Emily Inverso, she cited the three that are most top of mind for her (and us at Greenough!):
- AI is everywhere, and that will start to feel normal — Leaders need to use 2024 to implement their organization's strategy. If they're still in the phase of figuring out what it is, they're already behind in a race that's continuing at warp speed.
- Managers need comms training — Employee engagement is still waning. All managers need support, and new or remedial training. Communication and culture are the only things that will keep hybrid workers highly engaged. Most managers have never had to manage in that type of environment until the last few years — let alone onboard, build community, and continue to lead in a way that offers a balanced experience for both in-person and remote workers. Comms leaders are the folks who uniquely have that skill set, and it makes their role and insight even more critical to the future success of their organizations.
- The blurring or merging of comms and marketing — We're starting to see an uptick in comms owning brand and messaging, and marketing leveraging it for growth. Whether they merge or just share strategy, working separately is no longer best for anyone. Eleanor Hawkins, a former comms leader-turned journalist for Axios, just spoke at one of our HQ events, and she said she's already seeing this happen at places like IBM, Coca-Cola, and United Airlines.
We also connected with the best at making moments: our clients! And they had a lot to say about what’s to come:
“I see a continued convergence of internal/employee communications and external/PR. Full transparency is expected and required by all stakeholders, and you no longer have different messages for different audiences. Employees are both our best brand ambassadors and consumers of company information from all sources, social and traditional media, as much as intranets and internal channels, so our communications need to be authentic. And for global companies, navigating geopolitical and social issues will continue to challenge our communications teams.” – Laurie Kelly, Chief Communications Officer, GlobalFoundries
“Videos. Do more of them, keep them short and authentic. Don’t worry about high production value because quality content is a team sport. Some top performers are made in-house with a clever team and good idea.
Ungate. Let people who like the content binge. Then ask them for more information and they’re more likely to give you an email.” – Ann Joyal, Vice President of Marketing Communications, symplr
“Communications solutions across the gamut rushed to market with tools to use GenAI for external communications. And from my own test drives, some left much to be desired. In 2024, watch for increasing improvements as comm tech players learn from feedback, missteps and simply more time testing to get their solutions closer to prime-time ready. Don’t be surprised to read about a good AI-generated PR faux pas story in 2024.” – André Rebelo, Public Relations & PublicAffairs Director, Wolters Kluwer Health Division
“We will be drowning in bad content. With every marketing team trying to squeeze budgets and the advancement of generative AI, it will be easier than ever for marketers to create a high volume of repetitive, useless, dry, or unoriginal content. After all, AI does not create new ideas, nor does it bring new concepts into a conversation. As a consequence, content marketing will evolve. Users will expect some notice that indicates when content is AI generated, and marketers who create human, original, valuable content will be rewarded (but that’s not new).” – Gerardo Dada, Chief Marketing Officer, Catchpoint
Jerome Fohet, Director of Marketing and Communications at Soitec, agrees, “Generative AI will forever change the way content is developed. Personally, I truly think that Generative AI will grow even more in 2024. The training data will be more and more precise, and the general public will be even more amazed by the capacities of OpenAI or Baird.” He adds:
Generative AI is very useful in everyone’s life:
- Generative AI can automate content creation processes, saving time and resources. It will handle repetitive tasks, allowing workers to focus on more creative and strategic aspects.
- Generative AI will enable the creation of large amounts of content quickly, making it scalable for various applications.
- AI tools can be used as creative assistants, providing suggestions, ideas, or even generating entire pieces of content to inspire human creators.
But it still faces serious issues. Those issues will need to be addressed in order for generative AI to be accepted by more people.
- Generative models can inherit and perpetuate biases present in the training data, leading to biased or unfair content generation.
- The use of generative AI raises ethical questions, such as issues related to deep fakes, misinformation, and the potential for malicious use in creating deceptive content.
- The effectiveness of generative AI is highly dependent on the quality and diversity of the training data. Inadequate or biased training data can limit the model's performance.
Adding to the GenAI discussion, Chris Willis, CMO of Acrolinx, notes, “Looking out into 2024, I think we can all agree that generative AI is going to be playing a big role in everyone’s tech stack. But wide adoption will hinge on the ability of companies to govern the resulting content. Maybe we should be considering the following:
- Data Privacy and Security: As generative AI systems often require large amounts of data to train and operate, ensuring the privacy and security of this data is paramount. When I talk to my enterprise customers, this is the concern I hear the most. Companies need to establish strict data governance policies to protect sensitive information from misuse or breaches.
- Ethical Considerations: Generative AI can create content that is pretty much indistinguishable from human content, raising ethical concerns, especially around authenticity and misinformation. In order to protect their brand reputation, enterprises need to develop ethical guidelines to govern the use of AI in content creation, ensuring transparency and accountability.
- Quality Control and Editorial Oversight: To ensure the output of generative AI meets the required corporate style guidelines and is appropriate for its intended use, businesses need to automate editorial governance. Smart software, like Acrolinx, increases quality while managing risk at a giant scale.
- Training and Awareness: We take it for granted that people can just figure out generative tools. But really, employees at all levels should be educated about the capabilities, limitations, and ethical considerations of generative AI. This training is crucial for fostering an informed workforce that can effectively interact with and govern these technologies.
So, while generative AI does, in fact, offer immense potential for enterprises, its successful integration into everyday work life is contingent on the establishment of comprehensive governance frameworks that address the unique challenges posed by this technology. As we move into 2024, it's crucial for businesses to proactively seek out and implement these governance solutions to harness the full potential of generative AI responsibly and effectively.”
Thank you to all those who participated in our first Making Moments post, and we look forward to looking back on these next year and seeing if we have any edits or adds to the insights inside our crystal balls!