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PR forecasters offer key media, business, life sciences and tech predictions for 2024

by | Jan 16, 2024 | Public Relations

With the worldwind changes that hit the business world last year, it’s not easy to predict what PR can expect in 2024. But expert forecasters like PR and social media agency Birnbach Communications, who have been predicting the year ahead for 22 years now, have a certain knack for these things. And the firm has released its list of top media and marketing trends for the upcoming year.

“We expect generative AI, including ChatGPT, to continue to be the big story, the focus will be on the impact it will have on companies and consumers alike. Capabilities are growing at phenomenal rates, and from a content-generation perspective, organizations and educators need to understand what’s possible and how to use these new tools and processes,” said Norman Birnbach, president of Birnbach Communications. “By identifying these trends, we can help uncover media and business opportunities for clients across industries, such as tech, biotech and life science, AI and robotics, STEM and education.”

Here are the agency’s predictions of the top five trends that will drive media coverage and social media discussions in 2024:

1. Growing popularity of generative AI may upend copyrighting, pricing and public trust

Beyond changing the way we work, AI also will change how we produce and value content, whether text, audio, or visual. In addition to lots of articles reporting on fast-improving AI capabilities and forecasts of companies that will succeed or fail, we will see many think pieces about generative AI’s potential impact on humanity, as well as problems such as copyrighting issues, hallucinations (false information, citations and links in AI-produced text as well as similar problems with AI-produced images).

We will hear a lot about value-based marketing, representing a shift in how companies value and price work created by AI, including downward pressure on the cost to produce content despite the need for skilled practitioners to produce compelling content of any kind. One major magazine already got called out for publishing AI-produced articles under fake bylines, and this should serve as a cautionary tale for publications. (Please note: this entire release/article was written and edited by humans. For more about AI hallucinations, check out this New York Times article.)

2. Drug availability and cost are expected to drive attention at the highest levels

We anticipate the media to report on the impact of capping insulin prices, tied to Pres. Biden’s State of the Union address on March 7 because he announced that plan at last year’s SOTU and because it’s been a year since Eli Lilly reduced its insulin to $35/month. We expect the media to pay more attention to drug shortages affecting 309 medications for ADHD, cancer, diabetes and other conditions, some of it due to supply chain and market issues like slim profit margins on older drugs. Meanwhile, prices increased 15.2% from Jan. 2022 to Jan. 2023 on more than 4,200 drugs, according to the US Dept. of HHS. We expect those two trends will generate media attention.

3. With FDA approval of gene therapies for sickle cell disease, expect more good news for CRISPR, along with media concern about access to healthcare

A gene-editing tool CRISPR received a boost last year when the FDA approved a therapy for sickle cell disease and we expect additional CRISPR therapies to be approved this year. The initial challenges for sickle cell patients will be access, cost, and possible “insurance obstacles” (as the New York Times described it) to that therapy, and we expect those issues to generate coverage. We also expect that access and cost issues will be resolved but not this year.

4. All eyes will be on the content moderation and rising influence of social media in this election year

Misinformation and disinformation will rise across social media platforms this year especially—but not only—because of the 2024 elections. We expect coverage about content curation, including algorithms, and whether social media is pushing Big Tech’s agenda. We also expect think pieces about free speech and social media as virtual town squares, particularly on X, the social media platform you love to hate because there’s so much hate and trolling. We also expect to see more coverage of the declining value of X under Musk’s ownership. TikTok will also continue to receive attention because of its rising influence, its connection to China, and calls to limit TikTok in the U.S.

5. EVs may not be ready for prime time due to battery storage and electrification issues, but climate change will keep the focus on this nascent industry

We expect carbon capture as a way to reduce carbon emissions, along with wind power and solar to move forward this year but the media will be most interested in electric vehicles (EVs). The major shortage of charging stations will hamper EV growth until most drivers feel they can charge their cars wherever they are, which is connected to the electrification problem. Despite the stress of the U.S. electric grid, we need to expand and upgrade it to support new charging stations and increasing demand for electrical devices and appliances.

We also expect that battery storage capacity will be increasingly important, with emerging technologies like iron-air or zinc-based batteries and hydrogen-based storage, or new approaches combining hybrid battery and hydrogen fuel cell systems to provide longer-term storage.

Watch for more trends to be rolling out on the agency’s blog, PRBackTalk.

Birnbach Communications
Birnbach Communications is an award-winning PR & social media agency that partners with tech, B2B, healthcare & nonprofit clients to achieve their business and thought leadership goals.

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