What to Expect as We Navigate Our Way Through 2024

We have finally made it through the first month of 2024! Now that we have officially kicked-off the new year, let’s take a look at what we can expect to see in the world of public relations.

1. Data is Key

PR professionals are increasingly relying on analytics, tools and artificial intelligence to collect and examine data for more targeted and effective campaigns. By harnessing the power of data, we, as PR teams, can better understand an audience’s behavior, track campaign performance, and make informed decisions.

“A more meaningful and targeted message for the audience can go a long way and have a lasting impact on the brand in question. So keep an eye on data analytics and the tools that make a data-driven approach possible.”

PR Lab

2. AI and Chatbots

AI-powered chatbots are no longer a novelty; they are an essential part of modern public relations. AI-powered chatbots are being used for customer service, crisis management, and even media relations. They provide immediate responses, gather information, and offer a seamless communication network between organizations and their stakeholders.

In fact, our HBE team even attended a PRSA luncheon this month where we learned more about how these AI resources can also assist with event planning, script writing and so much more!

“Artificial intelligence serves as a valuable complement to human expertise, rather than a replacement, in our work. The use of AI-powered tools can help in areas such as analyzing data, providing real-time insights into public perception, generating content, and assisting in crafting strategies and responses.”

– Jenna Guarneri, Forbes

3. Hyper-personalization

Although AI is becoming increasingly powerful and popular, consumers and clients expect personalized experiences. PR campaigns are becoming more granular and tailored to specific audience segments. Hyper-personalization involves creating content and messaging that resonates on an individual level, fostering a stronger connection between brands and their target audiences.

“As consumer expectations shift and the demand for more authentic interactions increases, taking a more humanized approach in the way in which you interact with people is important… In this digital era, where we are seeing an exponential increase in AI-driven technology, emotional connections and the human touch are more crucial than ever.”

– Jenna Guarneri, Forbes

4. Social & Global Responsibility

Consumers are holding brands accountable for their social impact. PR professionals are likely to be helping organizations navigate social responsibility initiatives and communicate their efforts effectively. Ethical business practices and meaningful corporate social responsibility will be front and center.

Additionally, as the world faces an ever-evolving landscape of global crises, from health emergencies to geopolitical tensions, PR professionals need to be prepared for crisis communication on a global scale, emphasizing transparency and providing accurate information to alleviate risks.

“The definition of quality corporate social responsibility (CSR) in 2024 is very different from its definition just a few years ago. Consumers have been gravitating toward sustainability-focused brands for a while now, and they’ve grown ever more savvy at distinguishing real commitment from half-hearted CSR boilerplate. Accordingly, one of the central tasks of any PR firm in 2024 is going to be teaching brands the difference and helping them communicate their initiatives accordingly.”

– John Marino, Forbes

In conclusion, 2024 is marked by an assortment of technology, responsibility, and personalization. To succeed in this industry, PR professionals must continue to embrace data, leverage new technologies, and align their strategies with the values of their audiences. Staying adaptable is key to navigating the ever-changing PR landscape in the years ahead.

What other PR trends do you see heading our way this year? Let us know what you think we should be on the lookout for as we journey onward through 2024!

2023: A Name Change and a Step Forward in Multicultural Communications

By Gina Espinosa-Meltzer

We’re looking forward with excitement as we begin our 30th anniversary year. But first, I want to reflect on what was a very eventful 2023. 

When I joined Hope-Beckham two years ago, we set a goal to embrace the growing multicultural market, and we have done that successfully. 

We changed our name this year to Hope Beckham Espinosa. Adding a Hispanic name to the company, my name, is a clear statement of just how important this market is to us. 

We began 2023 with what became an award-winning multicultural campaign, Seguros al Volante (Safe at the Wheel), a corporate social responsibility effort to help Latinos learn how to drive more safely in the U.S. and to answer their many questions about how car insurance works here. It was also a successful sales, marketing and branding campaign for our client, auto insurer AssuranceAmerica. 

With more than 700,000 Hispanics living in metro Atlanta, more than 1 million in Georgia, and more than 62 million across the U.S., companies are increasingly aware of the fast-gowing Hispanic market. But it’s only a select few that have begun to communicate with this market, and not just by translating marketing materials into Spanish, but by understanding the culture and the ways to reach this audience. 

I urge you not to wait until Hispanic Heritage Month begins in September to start speaking with the Hispanic market, and don’t confine your efforts to that celebration, just as you should pay attention to the important African-American community all year, and not just during Black History Month. 

To help clients with the multicultural market, we continued to strengthen the talent on our team this year. 

We expanded our services to include a full range of communications offerings: media relations, social media, marketing, branding, community relations, events and corporate introductions. 

And because we know corporations are eager to diversify their supplier networks, we’ve applied for certification as both a minority-owned and woman-owned company. We expect to receive those certifications very soon. 

Bob Hope and the late Paul Beckham started Hope-Beckham in 1994, so we will celebrate our 30thanniversary in 2024. I’m incredibly honored to lead this company now, with Bob’s support, in a new direction, and to continue the legacy he and Paul started. 

Thank you to all our wonderful clients. It’s been a pleasure working with you this past year.  

We look forward to adding to that roster this year. Please reach out if we can help. 

Gen Z Brings New Insights to Traditional PR

By: Mariana Lopez

Hello! I’m Mariana Lopez, the latest addition to the Hope Beckham Espinosa team. Born in Venezuela, my education took me from India’s UWC international school for the IB to majoring in Advertising at the University of Florida. The power of communication – shaping opinions, fostering connections, and making lasting impressions – has always fascinated me.

Besides bringing a global perspective, I reflect the outlook of my generation, Gen Z. Let’s explore how Gen Z is reshaping public relations. Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, this generation embodies tech-savviness, authenticity, and innovation. 

Let’s explore three key communication aspects of Gen Z.

Authenticity at the Core: Gen Z values authenticity above all. In PR, this means a shift toward genuine and relatable strategies. Unlike past generations, members of Gen Z spot inauthentic content instantly. Transparency, honesty and personal connection matter. PR pros should focus on crafting narratives that resonate, forging deep audience bonds. Their agility in adopting new technologies, platforms, and trends invigorates agency approaches, injecting a modern twist into traditional PR.

Born into the Digital Era with Technological Proficiency: Gen Z, who are digital natives, are fluent in social media, influencers, viral trends. Their Tech-Savvy Nature is invaluable for PR. They navigate platforms and craft relatable content. Their insights fuel innovative PR campaigns, combining modern digital skills with established methods. Their grasp of emerging tech and digital trends makes PR relevant and engaging. Their expertise in digital analytics supports data-driven decisions, allowing for precise impact assessment.

Driven by Purpose: Gen Z is dedicated to social and environmental causes. Members of the group expect brands to share their values and drive positive change. PR aligns with this by linking campaigns to meaningful causes. Gen Z seeks brands committed to bettering the world. PR practitioners spotlight purpose-driven initiatives, while Gen Z’s inclusive mindset brings cultural sensitivity to the agency. This is valuable when working with diverse clients or reaching global audiences. Their skill in bridging connections allows them to effectively access new markets.

Incorporating these aspects into PR strategies is transformative. Gen Z’s perspective shifts communication profoundly, enabling PR pros to deeply connect with audiences. 

I’m proud to be part of Hope Beckham Espinosa, contributing to this transformative journey and helping shape PR’s future.

April Showers Bring May Flowers… and EVENTS!

By: Hilary Bumm

“April showers bring May flowers” is a popular saying used often during the month of April. This is typically the time when the last bit of snowfall turns to only rainfall as temperatures climb. The increased rain shower activity sparks flowers and plants to really start growing and blooming.

The saying can be traced back to England from the 1500s poet Thomas Tusser. Back then, he wrote “Sweet April showers do spring May Flowers”. As well, a longer phrase, “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers,” has been traced back to 1886.

Regardless, the month of April brings huge weather swings with the jet stream lifting northward at the start of spring. As winter comes to an end, precipitation falls more as rain instead of snow, especially here in Georgia.

The reference to April showers likely originated in the United Kingdom or Ireland, where the month of April tends to be especially rainy because of the position of the jet stream. The cooler climate in these areas also tends to push back the appearance of many flower species to late April and early May.

That old adage doesn’t necessarily ring true, though, especially in warmer climates. Rather than being rooted in botany, the phrase may be a simple way to avoid the blahs of rainy weather by focusing instead on the beauty of better weather ahead.

Thus, with event season in full bloom, the parallel of behind-the-scenes work is not lost. We at Hope-Beckham are grateful for those plentiful April showers of activity, the preparation that happens beneath the soil, and the opportunity to serve our clients.

This time of year, we bustle around preparing for client events. Providing great attention to detail, we ensure adequate staffing, finalize venue logistics, arrange for all the amenities and much more that go into creating a successful event. Then, just like the May flowers, we can experience the jubilant blossoming of successful client events!

Want to Be a Better People Person? Put Yourself First. Why self-awareness is so important and how you can improve yours

By: Holly Brochmann

You’re probably familiar with the term “people skills.” It’s a handy attribute both in life and in the workplace, in our industry especially. Generally, it means getting along with, relating to, and talking to people with ease – an outgoing personality vs. one that is more reserved or introverted.

A fancier term for people skills is emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you. The Harvard Business Review writes that emotional intelligence has evolved into a must-have skill, is a strong predictor of performance, and that the majority of managers value EQ over IQ.

If you want to boost your EQ or sharpen your people skills, it is my belief that you must first focus on one person in particular – yourself. This may come across as a self-centered suggestion, but it is anything but. Self-awareness is a primary element of emotional intelligence and is the gateway to nurturing other relationship management skills such as empathy. It also happens to be one of my personal favorite characteristics. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat scarce. Researchers have found that although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

Like any skill or talent, self-awareness comes easiest to those with a natural ability. But it can be developed and cultivated, and it is possible for an individual to raise their self-awareness along with their EQ overall if they recognize its value in the workplace and are committed to daily improvement practices.

Google is full of articles with tips on how to enhance self-awareness, with meditation and journaling as common suggestions. But if you are like me, it’s unrealistic to adapt these practices into your daily routine. At least at first. So try the following three mindfulness strategies instead:

1. Pay more attention. Notice your response to others, and their response to you. What bothers you the most about people? What behaviors or actions are most likely to trigger your emotions, both positive and negative? What qualities do you find yourself drawn to in associates, coworkers and friends?

2. Be curious. Ask questions of yourself and explore how and why you respond the way that you do in certain situations. Be curious about others as well – instead of jumping to conclusions, try asking yourself – how would I have responded if I were in their shoes? What is going on in their lives that might have influenced their response?

3. Identify your emotional strengths and weaknesses. Take a personality test, or better yet, ask trusted individuals who know you well to give you a list. If some of their responses surprise you, then that’s a good indicator your self-awareness could use a boost.

Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal said, “A workplace that encourages self-awareness is an environment where the most productive, curious, and innovative people thrive.” I wholeheartedly agree. What do YOU think?

Connecting with your Audience – Breaking the meta barrier

By: David Tetley

Public Relations and brand psychology have come a long way since their start. Small businesses and corporations have always strived to come up with new ways to relate to the public and stand out from their competitors. With the internet and social media being massively widespread, any company has a potential to advertise itself in front of another’s brand. Every business is fighting for its clients’ attention, making it harder to turn customers into loyal ones. The market has evolved and so have the consumers. So how do companies follow along?

Younger audiences are a favorite of advertisers. But today’s young people are less naïve towards advertisements and typically know when they are being sold more quickly than kids from different generations. With so many options and brands to choose, young consumers usually are more attracted to brands that they feel represent them in one way or another. That could be values like authenticity, a movement or even what is trending at the moment. What is popular will always be attractive, but there is a reason that something goes viral in the first place. There is research that suggests brand loyalty can be acquired if a company supports their potential customers’ views. Nike’s stock increased 5% back in 2018 by taking a stance with Colin Kaepernick against racism and donating $40 million to social justice organizations. It is a double-edged sword because of the risks that come with picking a side, but being catchy alone does not cut it anymore.

Views that brands support do not have to be political. Thanks to vast range of topics with large passionate audiences on the internet, ads can focus on very specific niches that are not controversial. Although young people might be harder to influence through traditional advertisements, many companies found a way to connect to the core of new audiences through social media. There are two reasons for that. The first, the newest generations, generation Z and Alpha, were born into a time where the internet was a pillar of their social life. Naturally, the amount of time they spend there is higher than any other age group. The second reason is because of companies are making ads inside the content they watch, instead of ads that will instantly drive many of them away. Instead of having an ad interrupt a video, story or TikTok, influencers add a new layer of marketing where they can advertise to their viewers a product that is most likely appropriate to the influencer’s niche audience in an entertaining way.

Influencer marketing, if done right, can break through the barrier to build brand resonance between young consumers and a brand or product. A small influencer can have a deeper connection with their followers than a large company’s expensive marketing efforts. Many big brands have opted to target their potential consumer via Snapchat and TikTok influencers paid ads because they know how inexpensive and effective it can be. Small to medium influencers can charge around $250 per ad and have it reach thousands of people that fit the product’s niche.

Social media doesn’t only facilitate connection with youth through targeted niches, it also pressures large corporations to act on important social issues. Being aware of what other brands and sponsors stand for is more important than ever. Soon, having a logo with a movement’s flag is not going to be enough. Fundraisers and charity events are becoming more prevalent by the day. Take Giving Tuesday, which is Nov. 29. It’s only been around for a decade, but its importance has grown significantly.

Great Storytelling Never Changes

By: Bob Hope

The world changes, but great storytelling never does.

I have more experience in public relations and communications than anyone else on earth. That’s not bragging. It is just the way it is.

After all, I started working in public relations when I was in college and became public relations director of the Atlanta Braves at age 24, immediately dealing with hundreds of media who were traveling with Hank Aaron during his chase of the all-time home run record. That counts for dog years of experience. Then, I worked directly for Ted Turner during the “make me famous” phase of his life. That counts for hyper dog years. I also worked for years in New York City at the top level of the largest public relations agency in the world, and my specialty was dealing with big-name CEOs, so that adds up to even more dog years of experience. So, conservatively, in a normal world, I have abnormal experiences. It is fair to say I have well over a century of experiences jammed into a half-century of working in communication. So, I must have learned something or at least developed some seasoned observations.

So, here are 10:

  1. There are good leaders and bad ones. The good ones typically know how to communicate well. Management and leadership are nothing more than being able to communicate well. Think about the kids’ game of telephone, where a group sits in a circle and whispers a message from one to the next until it circles the room. In the end, the message that started is typically distorted and nowhere close to the one that started. Now, think of the CEO at the top of a company with hundreds or even thousands of employees. If the message at the top isn’t clear, there is no way it will make it to the workers. It is all about communication.

  2. If you are a leader, there is no such thing as a casual or inconsequential comment. Because of your leadership position, people tend to listen and react to what you say. Don’t take that for granted. There is power in your words.

  3. If you are speaking to a crowd, realize that the attention span of the average person is seven minutes, and everyone isn’t on the same time clock. You need to get the attention of the group and keep their attention. So, every seven minutes, it is necessary to reset their clocks, even by saying something like, “Listen closely to what I am about to say; it is very important.”

  4. Some words are much more impactful than others. The average movie contains about 30,000 words. Yet, one sentence from a movie can live on in memories while others are forgotten. “Make my day…… Frankly my dear…. There’s no crying in baseball.” Try to master the art of creating a memorable phrase. We go on a “wild goose chase” or “break the ice” at the start of a meeting or think “love is blind” because Shakespeare told us those things 400 years ago.

  5. A big idea is in the eye of the beholder. Something similar is said about beauty. Sometimes ordinary ideas can be great simply because of the passion and power that are put behind them.  

  6. Fame has power. If you aren’t famous, you chase down opportunities one at a time. If you are famous, the world comes to you. It is much easier to have people line up and present opportunities to you than to chase them down one at a time.

  7. Great stories take on lives of their own. We too often worry about how to communicate rather than what to communicate. The power is in the message.

  8. Organizations are like people. They have distinct personalities based on more than what product they sell. In a competitive environment, the most beloved company most often wins.

  9. Newspapers are still alive and well. It is popular to say that the newspaper industry is dying, and in fact, the industry is changing. However, because of the internet, newspapers have more readers today than in the past. Also, business leaders sometimes say they don’t care about the local newspaper because of their perception that people don’t read it. One thing they can count on is that every one of their employees will read it if the news is about their company. Newspapers still have power, and mainstream media still leads and prioritizes the news.

  10. Creativity makes a huge difference when communicating and motivating. In a cluttered media world, the clever phrase or approach is needed more today than ever before. P.T. Barnham wrote a paper called, “The Art of Publicity,” which is an education in creativity. He wrote about his opening the P.T. Barnham Museum in New York and how he did everything smart marketers told him to do – ran ads, gave out free tickets, passed out flyers. They didn’t work, and then his money ran out. What he did to make the museum successful teaches more about marketing than any four-year degree. Brilliant.

Good communication is at the heart of informing, motivating, inspiring, creating devotion, love, and reaction. Bill Gates is famous in the PR industry for saying that he would spend his last dollar on PR and that telling the story of any product is at the core of success. That makes perfect sense. It is amazing how some corporate leaders understand that and others don’t.  

The Super-Power of Thank You

By: Hilary Bumm

Not only is it good manners to say thank you, but it’s also a proven mood-booster.

It’s considered common courtesy to send a thank-you note to someone who gives you a gift, attends your event or does something kind. A thoughtfully composed thank-you note, whether it’s designed to impress a hiring manager or simply express gratitude to someone who helped you, should not be underestimated.

Meanwhile, a pretty dope phenomenon occurs when we say thank you. As a prolific writer (well, scribbler) of thank you notes, I found this study fascinating. Research indicates that being thanked can make the recipient feel happier and more engaged while increasing the emotional intelligence of the person saying (or writing) it.

When we give and receive thank-you notes, our brain is automatically redirected to pay attention to what we have, producing intrinsic motivation and a strong awareness of the present. Also, at the neurochemical level, gratitude acts as a catalyst for neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – the ones that manage our emotions, anxiety and immediate stress responses.

How-to

Writer’s block? Often, the simpler, the better is the key to a well-written thank you. In his 1876 book, How To Write Letters, English professor J. Willis Westlake was among the first to create templates for proper thank-you letters. Fast forward two centuries later, his advice holds true.

Take pains; write as plainly and neatly as possible—rapidly if you can, slowly if you must. Good writing affects us sympathetically, giving us a higher appreciation both of what is written and of the person who wrote it. Do not say, I have not time to be so particular. Take time; or else write fewer letters and shorter ones.

History

According to stationer Caspari, the first versions of thank you notes originated in the 1400s when Europeans exchanged greeting cards with friends and family members. This was a new form of social expression that involved delivering the notes by hand. Even earlier, the Chinese and Egyptian people wrote messages on papyrus paper to communicate with their friends and wish one another good luck.

Psych

Dr. Alex Korb, neuroscientist and author of Upward Spiral, concludes that “gratitude forces us to focus on the positive sides of life. In short, gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine.”

Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure chemical. That dope occurrence is magnified by the physical act of engaging in an activity that expresses gratitude, such as writing that thank you.

How’s that for win-win? The next time you grab your pen and paper or head to your keyboard to say thanks, see for yourself!

Avoiding the Holiday Slump

By: Riley Carney

The holiday season is easily the busiest part of the year – from traveling to shopping to holiday parties; it is easy to feel overwhelmed. However, from a public relations standpoint, the holiday season is the perfect time to maximize opportunities for your company and clients. Below are some tips on how to avoid the holiday slump in the communications industry.

Keep Pitching

Even though November and December are some of the most hectic months of the year, it is a slow time for journalists as they look for stories to cover while many people are away on vacation. Tap into your connections with the media and pitch articles and stories to capitalize on the low news period of the holiday season. The media and audiences love feel-good stories during the holiday season, so now is the time to pitch the amazing things your client or company has done throughout the year.

Build Relationships

Building relationships is one of the key pillars in the communications industry, especially with the media. The best way to create a lasting relationship in this industry is to engage with others content and offer your resources. Be a friendly face and continue reaching out; if your story is not a good fit for one journalist, chances are they will connect you with the right person. Since many people drop off during the holidays, this is the perfect chance to foster new relationships and show your network that you care.

Don’t Focus Solely on the Holidays

One of the biggest fails a PR professional can have during the holiday season is stretching clients’ content to identify with the holidays when there is not a clear connection. Not everything can have a holiday spin, and that is okay. Editorial calendars are already full of gift guides and seasonal activities; it is a refreshing change of pace to hear about other events and news during this time.

Focus on Your Community

This busy season gives public relations professionals the chance to tap into their social media and commit to fostering their community. Stay engaging and focus on personal items to connect with your audience on social media. Share lots of pictures and videos and highlight the best things that happened this past year as a round-up, and don’t forget to thank your followers!

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of year and following these tips will help you have your professional life more on track for the holidays than your personal life!

Design Rush has named Hope-Beckham Inc. as a Top 10 Atlanta Public Relations Firm in Atlanta. Check out https://www.designrush.com/agency/public-relations/georgia/atlanta for more information.