From my perspective, not only in 2024 but also in the upcoming years, the biggest challenge for PR professionals will be:
1) COMMUNICATION ALONE IS NO LONGER ENOUGH. We are witnessing “the golden era” of communication and PR, as key skills and knowledge for almost everyone, especially leaders and managers. Even the global COVID-19 pandemic crisis hasn’t stopped this trend. On the contrary- it only accelerated it. So, if everyone is communicating today – what is left for PR professionals?
2) PURPOSE – PR professionals and communicators will have to dig much deeper. It is not about information anymore, it is about purposeful communication that shares values and provokes changes.
3) ACTIVISM – Our audience will demand our clear positions and will seek attitudes and directions. PR professionals will be on the frontline when it comes to social changes and “walk your talk” – for companies, organizations and institutions. So, we should ask ourselves: What we (will) actually achieve? How do we successfully transfer our ESG and sustainability to community well-being? This year, 2024, is set to be the largest election year in history. Over 4,2 billion people across 50+ countries around the world will participate in national and regional elections. However, the focus will not only be on governmental or political issues – people are exploring new possibilities for a more human society and will appreciate those brands, companies, organizations and institutions that will do the same.
4) FIND YOUR TRIBE – Globally or locally, consciously or not – people will look for BELONGING, which will be much more than sharing. So – PR professionals should gather, inspire and support their company’s (organization, institution…) tribe members (former customers and/or so-called audience) in their causes.
5) TRUSTWORTHY AND ETHICAL – will be the key words. We will still be fighting against fake news, manipulation and greenwashing. Especially in the rise of artificial intelligence use.
And to be completely honest – I am fully aware that during these transformational years there will still be companies, institutions and organizations that will just create – press releases, although it is highlighted in 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report that the media hold the lowest level of trust.
Those contrasts will certainly be among the main features of 2024 and the following years.
As an IPRA Board member for more than five years and IPRA GWA Expert Jury for 11+ years, I can assure you that IPRA already responded through many activities – from renewed PR definition to Climate and AI Guidelines.
But, it’s not responding that we strive for. More than that – we point out trends, clarify cultural differences and attitudes, point out potential obstacles and advocate trustworthy and ethical communication – from Thought Leadership Essays (published at Ipra.org) to our consultative status with the United Nations.
My vision for my presidential year was already quoted in IPRA release: “I am very pleased to serve as IPRA President 2024 and hope that my year will inspire all our members to become active contributors to our global tribe. My key goal is to strengthen the capacity of our profession for the trustful and ethical practice of public relations in the era of Artificial Intelligence”.
And I truly mean it. Throughout my professional career, I was blessed to get to know many great PR professionals worldwide, to learn from them and be inspired by them. Also, together with my agency “Blumen Group Belgrade”, I have belonged to a few “tribes” – “Worldcom Public Relations Group” is certainly the one I am most proud of.
My IPRA tribe is one level above – we consistently and constantly strive to leverage the level of the profession worldwide. You are welcome to join us.
Thank you for this question. For many years I have thought that CEE is a very specific region (Balkan region as well) due to historical and political issues and traditional beliefs – and CEE PR as well. As a member of IPRA tribe and being in contact with our colleagues worldwide, especially these days when we witness even military conflicts in many regions – I have learned the most important lesson: each country and region has their specificities, and understanding them is of crucial importance. As well as mutual support among professionals – even if it looks like it’s not needed or we think we cannot contribute.
CEE region was specific for focusing on one figure – the most common on political leaders, and that was a common frame for public communications as well, especially in media. Today – it seems that it has become a global issue, not our specificity.
If we are talking about guidelines – PR professionals may find them on IPRA website, as I already mentioned. But my biggest concern is that we will, in a way, start to abuse the terms “ethical” and “creative” to protect ourselves from inevitable changes that are coming (and already came) with AI.
The complexity of today’s world is bringing us a chance to rediscover the very PURPOSE of our profession – as I already suggested in my 1st message as IPRA President.
But, TRUST and ETHICS will remain key words in strategic communication.
Natasa Pavlovic Bujas is curious explorer and inexhaustible performer, passionate about behavioral sciences and behavioral economics. She graduated chemistry at University of Belgrade in 1990, but soon after she founded Blumen group, one of the first agencies for integrated communications and business development in Serbia. She stands for female touch in business – so she became the first elected women in Serbian Association of Employers Presidency, and still holds this position. With her team and as an communication expert, business coach and business consultant, she was awarded with 25+ national and international awards – among them are IPRA Golden World Awards and IPRA Grand Prize, as well as Public Relations Society of Serbia special award for personal achievements in public relations, UEPS – GOLD PRIZE (Serbian Advertising Practitioners Association) for representing Serbian marketing and PR practice worldwide, and many others.
She is lecturer and speaker at national and international conferences and events, sharing her knowledge and entrepreneur experience.
Natasa is IPRA President 2024 and proud alumna of the “Fortune Most Powerful Women – U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership Program 2022”
She describes herself as: Creative thinker. Problem solver. Business coach. Mentor. Entrepreneur. Communication Expert. Internet fun. Mom non-stop.
Gallup says about her: Futurist. Strategist. Learner. Individualist. Connected.