5 predictions that will change the communications world in 2024

From battling burnout to social media’s decline, we highlight key trends for the new year.

Tom Corfman is a senior consultant with Ragan Consulting Group where he’s bemused by all the phony baloney communications predictions and trends for the new year.

Variety says that Lily Gladstone will win the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which seems like a good bet.

But seemingly sound predictions can turn out wrong for a wide range of reasons. So, with humility, we offer these five forecasts for organizational communications in 2024:

1. Burnout will persist but get better—slowly. The percentage of employees who say they have suffered from burnout in the past year has fallen to 65%, an alarming number but lower than the 75% in 2022, according to “Uncovering the Significant HR Trends of 2024,” by human resources software maker isolved.

These feelings of stress and fatigue are lingering symptoms of the pandemic. COVID-19 is still among us, a reminder of the death and disruption we endured during the worst of the virus’s spread. The emotions of that grim time are slow to leave, helping explain a pessimistic view of the economy, which by most measures is humming along. Those emotions also color many people’s views of work.

The internal comms people of all the S&P 500 companies combined can’t fix this problem, but they can chip away at it. Communicators, who rose to the challenge in 2020, will continue to be pressed to devise new ways to help leaders make work feel fresh and rewarding.

2. Hybrid working arrangements will pose problems we haven’t quite figured out.

The biggest obstacle to organizations with employees working from home is decreased workplace communication, according to 48% of leaders and managers, Gallup says in “6 Workplace Trends Leaders Should Watch in 2024.”

For their part, employees who work partly from home say feeling less connected to their organizations’ culture is the second biggest drawback, cited by 28%. Their biggest challenge is reduced work resources such as equipment, chosen by 31%.

This disconnect goes both ways. Employees who are in the workplace every day may feel undervalued, envious of a perk that other employees enjoy. Deskless workers may especially be susceptible to these feelings.

3. This year will be an important test for communication budgets. Last year, amid recession worries, many companies trimmed or froze their comms budgets. Yet demands on comms teams only grew.

“We’re hearing that internal comms is fast approaching a crossroads,” intranet company Unily says in, “Are you prepared for these 2024 internal comms trends?”

Earlier this year, we urged communicators to slow down, offering four ways to better manage their expanding pile of requests.

But working smarter only goes so far. Will 2024 be the Year of Something’s Got to Give? Or will budgets rise to the level of communications’ importance?

4. It’s a no-brainer to say the hottest trend in communications in 2024 will be content-generative artificial intelligence. Confirming the obvious is a survey of public relations professionals conducted by PR software company Prowly for “Top PR Trends and Predictions for 2024.”

Yet AI enthusiasts will feel pushback in 2024 as the limits of large language models like ChatGPT are exposed.

“Businesses should be particularly wary in areas where logical reasoning is involved, facts are important, replicability is crucial, or the stakes are high,” according to an article by Mikhail Burtsev, an AI expert at the London Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and two executives with the BCG Henderson Institute, a business strategy thinktank.

Other than that, generative AI is fine.

5. Most PR mavens say that a strong social media presence is crucial. While still important, social media’s influence will decline.

“Social media’s reputation is disintegrating across the globe,” according to “Predictions 2024: Exploration Generates Progress,” by Forrester Research.

“Social media remains the top investment channel for digital marketing, but consumers are actively trying to limit their use,” added Emily Weiss, senior principal researcher with Gartner. The research firm predicts that half of consumers will abandon or significantly limit their interactions with social media by 2025 because of a “perceived decay in quality.”

This means that communicators must produce posts that are honest, informative and clever, amplified by compelling images. Put away the PR boasting and marketing blather.

Longer term, it means that communicators must decide how much of their precious dollars should go to social media.

These predictions mean professional communicators must make some big decisions in 2024.

Before making those choices, they’d do well to remember the advice that Mollie Burkhart, played by Gladstone, tells her husband, Ernest, before he makes a big decision.

“Just make sure you know the road,” she says.

Knowing that road will be hard.

Want to learn more about incorporating artificial intelligence into your editorial process and standards? . Follow RCG on LinkedIn and subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.


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