Recently, FleishmanHillard hosted members for a half-day roundtable discussion to discuss the disruptive forces that corporate communications counselors will face in 2024. The attendees discussed at length many topics, including the disruptive force of generative AI (GenAI), the global election cycle, shifts in global social movements, and how to better support corporate board priorities. Here’s a brief outline of highlights:

Attendees listening intently to presentation on key industry trends.

The disruptive force of Generative AI 

Three key areas stood out: Media relations will change as newsrooms look for data pitches and learning materials for newsrooms’ machine learning. Newsrooms are adopting new, more powerful predictive analytics to write stories. And, there is an important role for humans to play in explaining context when developing GenAI systems.

  • More advanced uses of AI are not about summarizing the news, but about looking for hidden signals in public information.
  • Media relations professionals need to think about what is valuable to journalists and how corporate information will show up as news signals in newsroom GenAI systems.
  • The idea of "news-tritional" labels to understand what is in AI as a way of building trust in GenAI driven news, similar to nutritional labels on food, was also discussed.

The 2024 election cycle and societal shifts

Our session on the 2024 election cycle focused on both preparing for 2024 challenges and the possibility of working with a new Trump administration.

  • Should there be another Trump administration, the expectation is that a loyalty test will be far more important than in the first administration, impacting how companies communicate – particularly those in politicized industries.
  • Populism continues to drive sentiment and the need for businesses to take back the narrative about the value they drive, globally.

We then shifted focus to how companies need to communicate in this environment.

  • Data was presented around the gap between a strong economy, but a persisting negative sentiment about the economy.
  • A key recommendation is how business needs to be humanized.
  • The focus should be on value, not values, and personalizing the economy at the local level.

How do CCOs support boards

The morning's discussion closed with a focus on how the corporate communications function and Chief Communications Officers can better support corporate boards.

  • Some familiar headlines included taking the focus off KPIs and more on global issues.
  • The importance of understanding the culture and values of a board before joining it, helping boards understand what the company's people care about, expressing personality and skillset, and addressing diversity in gender, race/ethnicity, and thought were also discussed.

What’s next

The roundtable discussion will continue throughout the year. As we move through reporting season, some upcoming topics include hearing from people doing the work of ESG.