The key to success in PR in 2024? Building trust

Categories: Research, Salford Business School

Building trust has never been more important for brands in 2024, argues Mirage Islam for PR Week.

Mirage Islam portrait

Any business needs a bit of positive PR from time to time. 2023 has been a bumper year for practitioners who know their craft, focusing on building relationships with their audiences.

In 2023, we witnessed a focus on building trust, especially at a time where there has been an erosion of trust in our political landscape, journalism, and media organisations. X (formerly known as Twitter), continues to divide opinion, delivering news whilst also shaping the news agenda. Increasingly consumers are turning to CEOs and leaders of the organisations to take a stance on social and political issues. Building trust is hard to achieve and very easily lost. 

Building trust requires the craftsmanship of specialists to enable clients to get their key messages across to an audience who are overwhelmed with information and being constantly bombarded with communications. 

Looking ahead to 2024, how does the PR industry cut through the noise, overcome this customer fatigue and generate communications that resonate? 

In 2024, there will be two themes that will underpin PR communications to build that essential trust from the consumer:

1. Focus on transparency 

2. Authenticity

Here are some practical steps to emotionally connect and build trust in audiences:

Think like a data scientist: You don't need to be one, but knowing or investing in one will reap rewards. Using data and insights to drive your communications means engaging with your audience more meaningfully offline and on social media.

Identifying clients' purpose: Establishing clarity will enable agencies and companies to develop a consistent thread to engage audiences. 

Asking questions: What does your client truly stand for? What do they want to be known for? What role do they want in the world? This allows for greater transparency in storytelling.

Generative AI: be curious, but be careful: AI has been around for a long time, but the level of sophistication and innovation occurring daily in this space is anopportunity to improve efficiencies in writing copy and developing images.  However, business leaders need to be mindful of the potential ethical and legal issues relating to the use of AI. Questions must be asked about inherent bias in the code and from which source AI content has been generated.

Leverage the network, internally and externally: Post-pandemic there has been an increase in more face-to-face events to build those contacts, but practitioners will need to balance this with leveraging digital, especially social media platforms. In 2024, micro influencers will become yet more influential. Micro influencers can help spread key messages to a wider audience in a much more trusted capacity than just buying ad space. In the coming year we will also see a greater focus on diverse workforce and employees: ultimately employees are an organisation's true superpower.

The year ahead will continue to pose many challenges, but one thing is clear: building greater levels of trust is integral. The role of PR agencies to act as custodians of brands has never been greater.

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