Reputation management is poised to take central focus in 2024, according to predictions by PR agency and sustainability-focused strategic communications firm, Sefiani. In their annual forecast for communications, brands, and reputations, Sefiani outlines key trends for 2024 that businesses must navigate in the ever-evolving landscape of trust-building and brand value.
Other key trends include the AI conversation evolving, making communications roles become more fulfilling and high-value, sustainability communicators having to work harder and smarter to build trust, consumers continuing to demand greater transparency and authenticity from brands, and corporate jargon taking a backseat to simpler and more transparent communication.
More detailed predictions are as follows:
The importance of reputation management is underscored by Brand Finance’s recent Australia 100 2024 rankings, highlighting the direct correlation between brand value, brand strength, and reputation health.
Sefiani warns that organisations neglecting this reality do so at their own peril, as consumers, investors, and employees increasingly scrutinise the ethical alignment of brands with their own values.
The AI conversation:
Technological advancements, including AI, online data monitoring, sentiment tracking, and predictive analysis, are expected to empower companies to address emerging issues swiftly.
Sefiani anticipates a heightened focus on the role of chief executive officers in crises, emphasising the need for accountability in the face of cyber-attacks and customer privacy breaches.
While the debate surrounding productivity versus job losses persists, Sefiani sees a positive transformation for communications practitioners. The integration of AI is expected to enhance job satisfaction by allowing individuals to concentrate on higher-value work.
As the global democratic landscape faces unprecedented challenges in 2024, brands may feel pressure to align with ideological sides. Sefiani anticipates this trend escalating as misinformation, amplified by readily available AI-generated content, poses challenges for accurate journalism.
It predicts organisations will be tested in navigating these complexities and aligning with values to meet the expectations of employees and consumers.
Sustainability communicators are predicted to face heightened challenges in 2024, as the role of communications in advancing sustainability becomes more critical. Scrutiny of sustainability communications reached new heights in the 2023 with regulators declaring war on greenwashing.
Sefiani urges brands to convey their sustainability actions with accuracy, accountability, and authenticity to bridge the trust gap.
Consumer demands for transparency and authenticity from brands also continues to rise. Organisations, whether B2B or B2C, are urged to engage audiences authentically and innovate constantly.
Sefiani points to the shift seen at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, where investment in brand building and awareness took precedence, as evidence for the importance of authentic communication.
Lastly, Sefiani highlights the trend toward simpler and more transparent communication, or “slaying the corporate jargon dragon.” While complete overhaul of jargon may be unlikely, Sefiani suggests a decline in its use in favour of plain language, particularly in internal communications, to improve corporate culture and trust.