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January, 2024

Heightened scrutiny and AI evolution coming to communications landscape in 2024, Sefiani forecasts

Reputation management will be more important than ever in 2024 as the AI conversation evolves, democracy faces its biggest test and trust and transparency take centre stage for consumers, Sefiani Communications Group predicts.

The Australian PR firm has released its predictions for the communications, brands, and reputations landscape in 2024. The company anticipates a shift in several key areas, including reputation management, AI, political positioning, sustainability, and corporate communication.

Top of the list is reputation management, which will be more important than ever, Sefiani stated. The firm predicts consumers, investors, and employees will increasingly scrutinise the morals and ethics of brands, putting pressure on companies to maintain a strong and ethical reputation.

Sefiani also anticipates a significant evolution in the conversation around AI. “The AI conversation will evolve, and communications roles will become more fulfilling and high-value,” the company stated. This suggests that AI could potentially transform the communications sector in a positive way, creating more value and satisfaction in communications roles,” the group preducts.

Political polarisation is another area Sefiani believes will impact brands as democracy faces its ‘biggest test’, with over four billion people voting in upcoming elections held in the United States, India, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico, and the European Union. As democracy becomes increasingly polarised and political discussions grow ever more tense, misinformation will continue to exacerbate political divides heightened by readily available AI-generated fakes.

“In these tumultuous times, the demand for credible journalism and reliable news sources will surge, becoming an indispensable lifeline for discerning readers navigating information chaos,” Sefiani stated. “Organisations may face increasing pressures to align with an ideological side, driven by employees and consumers seeking brands that mirror their values. Navigating this landscape will become more complex as fake information emerges to escalate political tensions maliciously. Effectively managing these challenges will elevate communicators to strategic decision-making roles.

“Depending on the outcome of these elections there is a risk that by the end of 2024, the world will become less inclusive and more conservative.”

Sustainability communicators will equally face challenges, according to Sefiani as regulators crack down on greenwashing and scrutiny of sustainability communications reaches new heights.

“Too many companies continue to fall into one of two groups – greenwashers and greenhushers – and both are holding back progress and weakening consumer trust. Those communications with an adept understanding of sustainability, conveying their organisation’s actions and progress with accuracy, accountability, and authenticity, will play a key role in closing this trust gap,” the PR firm continued.

Consumers will continue to demand greater transparency and authenticity from brands too. Sefiani pointed to the last Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity showcase as an illustration of how the pendulum has swung back to investment in brand building and awareness.

“Audiences want to be engaged across all touchpoints and seek content that cuts through all the smart marketing technology in favour of authentic, creative and humorous communication. Campaigns from brands like Heinz are playing up brand’s iconic nature and having fun while evolving their relevance across audience groups and topics from the cost of living to small business and ketchup imitations,” Sefiani stated.

Finally, Sefiani predicts a decline in corporate jargon as consumers demand greater transparency and authenticity from brands.

“Slaying the corporate jargon dragon in favour of simpler and more transparent communication,” the company stated. “Will 2024 be the year that corporate jargon dies? Probably not, but it’s likely to decline in favour of simple language in the workplace – particularly in internal communications.”