AI analyses are unveiling new information on workforce implementation. A new Boston Consulting Group study suggests higher-performing workers have less to gain from AI, but below-average performers can benefit substantially. In PR, more agencies are embracing AI to tackle tasks that require massive data evaluation, like tracking social media sentiment. Many companies remain cautious with ongoing evaluation before implementing AI into business practices.
Newsrooms Turn Nonprofit and Local Outlets Look to Build Trust
News consumption studies are providing insight into the latest platform preferences. While more Americans are getting their news from social media, television remains a popular option—primarily for local reporting. In Oklahoma, evidence-based practices are helping local outlets reach more audiences by building trust and expanding transparency in reporting.
Executive Expectations Elevate Opportunities for Communicators
Changes in office arrangements and the essentials of work are driving new employee expectations. Along with authentic leadership, more entry-level workers are looking for companies to communicate clear direction and purpose. Data suggest organizations must better prepare executives for leadership positions—a new poll found only 17% of PR managers received formal management training.
Renewed interest in leadership is elevating opportunities for communicators. A new report reveals more communicators are reporting directly to company CEOs as they assume additional responsibilities. Searches for senior-level communicators are also on the rise as companies see increasing value in reputation management.
Sequence Summaries: AI Updates, News Notices, and Executive Emphasis
In the wake of transformative technology sweeping society, more companies are facing criticism—and potential legal consequences. The biggest tech antitrust trial in decades kicked off this week as the U.S. Justice Department takes on Google, accusing the company of monopolizing the search engine market.
New reports indicate the Federal Trade Commission is close to filing an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. The regulatory body could potentially break up the retail behemoth’s trillion-dollar business, which critics have called a monopoly. Meta is following Amazon’s footsteps with its return-to-office mandates, recently requiring workers to attend in-person at least three days a week.
More Insights on Media and Employee Engagement
Research suggests that young people may be more engaged with news than previously thought. Data from the Medill School at Northwestern University show that nearly one-third of teens encounter news daily and close to half view local TV news weekly. In social media, a new analysis suggests Meta’s Threads is catching on with college students as X looks to recover from its post-Twitter stumbles.
More employees want to hear from leadership through authentic communications. A new GE-Ipsos poll found that 40% of entry-level employees do not have confidence that CEOs are demonstrating company values, and the divide in perceptions between junior and executive staff remain significant. Overall, employee satisfaction has stalled since 2020 and declined drastically over the past year.
Audiences Prepare for Non-Stop Political Coverage
As the 2024 U.S. political season ramps up, coverage and content are already shaping races. Over the past few cycles, traditional polling has missed the mark with less reliable data that’s skewed coverage. Despite these inconsistencies, there’s little evidence that ‘horse race’ coverage will cease.
With more people disengaging from political news, recent research indicates news outlets may not be to blame. A new study suggests non-news websites expose people to more political content than news sites. Social media, where growing numbers get political information, will see additional advertising this cycle. Google announced advertisers must disclose whether their content has been modified or generated by AI.
Sequence Summaries: Tech Trouble, Survey Studies, and Political Pivots
More Americans Support Unions as Work Continues Changing
Unions are seeing strong support from Americans across the board, according to new research and polling. Two-thirds of Americans approve of labor unions and rising numbers perceive their influence as increasing (Gallup). Young people are among the most ardent supporters, with nearly 90% of people under 30 viewing unions favorably (GBAO Strategies).
While hybrid work arrangements normalize, workers and management remain at odds over return-to-office requirements. Newsroom unions are prioritizing remote work in negotiations with management at outlets from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal. Amazon continues to emphasize in-person work—CEO Andy Jassy has doubled down on recent warnings to employees ignoring company mandates.
Some Signs Suggest AI Losing Support
There’s no shortage of AI implementation as companies race to capitalize on the growing technology. But as artificial intelligence expands, signs of pushback are taking shape. Some media companies, including CNN and The New York Times, are restricting large language models like ChatGPT from training on published online content. The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio is scaling back generative AI after facing criticism for its machine-generated sports coverage.
New reports suggest public interest in AI may be waning. Despite widespread media coverage, most Americans have not used ChatGPT and few think it will significantly impact their jobs. Many tech companies have yet to see AI gains—Microsoft’s revamped Bing has not affected search engine market share.
After Brief Lull, Advertising Appears to Accelerate
The advertising industry is preparing for unprecedented growth amid economic and technological shifts. Ad spending is projected to top $1 trillion globally next year as tech companies move into new markets. Both Meta and Google recently reported higher earnings than expected, elevated by increased ad impressions.
While social media ad revenue has largely rebounded, it remains underwhelming for the former Twitter platform, X. The company has seen sustained declines with departed advertisers citing content concerns. Elon Musk has publicly blamed the Anti-Defamation League for lobbying advertisers to leave the platform over unmoderated content. To increase revenue, X is lifting its ban on political advertising.
Sequence Summaries: Labor Lessons, Machine Malaise, and Ad Expansion
Europe Implements Digital Services Act as U.S. Regulatory Efforts Gain Steam
Tech firms are facing potential fines and investigations as governments ramp up regulation. The Digital Services Act, now in effect across Europe, requires companies to provide algorithmic and content moderation transparency. In the U.S., child advocacy groups are asking the FTC to investigate Google for YouTube targeting kids with personalized ads.
Regulatory efforts in Europe could be influencing U.S. policymakers. A bipartisan effort to establish a new digital governing body is gaining steam. The proposed Digital Protection Commission would work with the FTC to oversee company mergers while focusing on expanding user data protections.
Dangers of Disinformation on Full Display, From Disasters to Digital Manipulation
A new political season is bringing increased attention to the dangers of disinformation in the U.S. and around the world. To protect against political misinformation, audiences should evaluate political rhetoric closely. Meta recently took down nearly 8,000 Facebook accounts linked to Chinese law enforcement spreading disinformation about U.S. politics and Covid-19 origins.
The spread of misinformation on social media is likely to spike following a major crisis, according to researchers from Stanford University. Local officials in Maui have spoken out about harmful conspiracy theories that have proliferated following coverage of the Lahaina wildfires. A developer has demonstrated the ease of building AI disinformation machines using cheap and accessible technology.
As Philanthropic Media Funding Increases, Ethics Questions Emerge
Shifting media markets and reduced newsroom resources have left news operations looking for additional financial support. A new report from Media Impact Funders reveals more foundations are funding journalism over the last five years. While philanthropic funding for journalism is not widely studied, it’s estimated philanthropies provide nonprofit news outlets up to $150 million each year.
With increases in media aid, questions of ethics and disclosures have emerged. Surveys show only 14% of for-profit publishers disclose all their donors, while nearly one-third of nonprofit media organizations reveal theirs. Significant portions of for-profit newsrooms have received grants from large tech organizations, including the Google News Initiative and Meta.
Sequence Summaries: Digital Decrees, Disinformation Danger, and Philanthropic Funding
Twitter Overhauls More Than its Brand with New ‘X’ Changes
Along with a controversial rebrand, significant changes are shaping X—the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. The ability to block followers is being discontinued, a move coming weeks after the disbanding of Twitter’s trust and safety team. A new analysis suggests certain outbound traffic is being throttled by X, with delays to select websites like Facebook and The New York Times.
Brands Still Prioritizing PR Agencies for Pitching and Media Support
Recent research and data are shedding new light on the public relations industry. Muck Rack’s State of PR 2023 report reveals brands primarily rely on agencies for pitching and product launches. Public relations pros at both brands and agencies are spending significant time on media relations—and across the sector, stakeholders are looking for more measurable results.
Communicators Face Growing Audience and Industry Challenges
As media use increases, audiences expect more information from institutions and organizations. Communicators are looked to convey the latest, but a list of growing expectations present challenges. More teams are being tasked with internal communications on top of overseeing external public relations, with larger reputational risks than ever before.
Challenges abound for a media industry adapting to generational shifts in news consumption. Studies show younger people prefer to get their news from personalities over journalists and traditional outlets. Labor battles are continuing with Washington Post union members close to walking out amid ongoing contract negotiations. Press freedom is also increasingly at risk, with many journalists facing legal action for their reporting.
Sequence Summaries: ‘X’ Changes, PR Perceptions, and Communications Challenges
Legal Orders Raise Concerns of Press and Personal Freedoms
Data collection of individuals and media organizations are drawing increased attention. More governments across the globe are ordering tech giants to preserve user data for legal and investigative purposes. A law enforcement raid of a newspaper office in Kansas is raising concerns about press freedom, as information about a confidential source was obtained.
With social media use not slowing down, lawmakers are considering more protections for young users. A new law in Illinois has amended the state’s Child Labor Law to provide social media influencers under age 16 potential compensation for monetized content.
Employee Insights Inform Employer Efforts
As companies adjust to hybrid work schedules, employee information is becoming more valuable—and controversial. Amazon is closely tracking office attendance and warning employees not meeting its recent return-to-office mandate. Overall, office workers have high interest in a four-day work week, though most would not want longer hours to make up for it.
Major advancements in data collection are raising new implications for employees. Research from Harvard Business School explores the rise of ‘people analytics’ that could determine promotions and performance. A new report indicates more employers are prioritizing retention amidst a changing labor market.
Agencies looking to bolster productivity and improve employee engagement should focus on quality, not quantity, by fostering a strong culture and emphasizing worker wellness. Reducing meetings and adding a mix of structure and spontaneity can also help raise morale.
Sequence Summaries: Legal Latitude, Employee Info, and PR Productivity
Reliability and Accuracy of AI Questioned as New Tech Takes Over
Speculation and uncertainty around AI is raising anxiety in communications circles. Google and OpenAI are courting media organizations with offers to leverage the emerging technology, while digital news platforms have already begun using generative AI to create content. G/O Media has faced significant backlash from staff protesting the company’s trial of publishing AI-authored content for its online outlets.
Recent polling data provide insight on PR and marketing perceptions of AI. Respondents of a new Ragan Communications survey cited misinformation and legal uncertainties as the top concerns of professionals. Widespread reports of AI chatbots ‘hallucinating’—confidently delivering falsehoods—has raised concerns about large language models producing reliable content.
Recent Rulings and Regulations Impact Public Relations
Federal legislation has been introduced that would prevent utilities from recovering public relations and political expenses from ratepayers. Tech companies continue sparring with news outlets over advertising. Meta is blocking news content on its platforms in Canada following the passage of the Online News Act—legislation addressing news outlets’ declining advertising revenue.
Traditional News Outlets Shed Subscribers Amidst News Avoidance
News platforms are struggling to attract and retain subscribers during a tumultuous time for media companies. Growing numbers of people are ignoring news coverage, with research revealing nearly 40% of U.S. respondents sometimes or often avoiding news. The Reuters Institute research also show increasing numbers disengaging from political news.
Despite declining digital-only subscribers, Gannett is reporting higher revenue from increasing subscriber costs. A new study shows that when news outlets have temporarily suspended paywalls, visitors are more likely to subscribe once restrictions are reinstated. More users are foregoing traditional subscriptions in favor of news aggregators like Apple, which recently surpassed one billion paid subscribers across all services.
Sequence Summaries: AI Anxiety, Policy Protocols, and Shedding Subscribers
Remote Work Impacts Real Estate Planning and Career Paths
Recent data provide insights into how employees and employers are adjusting to new ways of working. More managers are reevaluating real estate and office use. A survey of business leaders showed 33% of those assessing the workplace are planning to reallocate existing space.
Remote work has rapidly become a top incentive for employees. New research reveals nearly half of companies mandating office returns had higher attrition rates than anticipated. While hybrid and remote work offer employees more flexibility, the lack of in-person interaction can inhibit colleague trust and growth of professional networks.
Threads Cools Down as Social Media Apps Compete for Attention
Nonprofit Efforts Emerge to Sustain Local Journalism
Economic uncertainty and seismic shifts in media have left local news outlets reeling. Across the country, nonprofit initiatives are emerging to sustain journalism and keep newsrooms running. The National Trust for Local News finalized the purchase of more than 20 newspapers in Maine—the Trust also owns 24 newspapers in Colorado.
Philanthropic interest in strengthening local news is gaining momentum. A philanthropy collective including the MacArthur Foundation and Knight Foundation are planning to raise up to $500 million for local support. In Philadelphia, a new initiative aims to elevate local news with a $2 million grant from The Lenfest Institute.
Sequence Summaries: Office Insights, Saturated Social, and Preserving Press
The proliferation of political misinformation and emerging AI have elevated the urgency for quality media literacy. With recent research showing significant increases in media engagement by children and youth, more states are changing curriculum. A new bill being considered by California’s legislature would implement media literacy in K-12 across every subject.
Although more misinformation has spread, new methods are empowering users to identify it. Researchers at the Stanford History Education Group suggest ‘lateral reading,’ opening new browser tabs to cross-check sources when reading a suspicious article. The Poynter Institute has provided a trove of digital media literacy resources through their MediaWise initiative.
The Latest Trends in Communications and Public Relations
Communications are rapidly evolving, from content creation to career expectations. A recent survey found that despite growing concerns of a convergence between public relations and journalism, roles remain distinct. Differences in earnings are also substantial—Census Bureau data show the average PR salary is 75% higher than the average journalist salary.
More journalists are looking for data and willing to partner with PR pros who provide transparent information. As generative AI becomes more integrated in professional communications, ethical guidelines are being established to support communicators. To mitigate employee stress and burnout, organizations should encourage and implement mindfulness practice.
Sequence Summaries: Social Shifts, Literacy Lessons, and Tracking Trends
Social Media Shifts as Newspaper Ownership Shuffles
More movement in traditional and digital media continues shaking up a changing landscape. Since Elon Musk took over Twitter last October, the social media company has lost nearly half its advertising revenue. New competitor Threads is quickly catching up, already attracting one-fifth the weekly active user base of Twitter, and potential advertisers are noticing.
Many newspapers are undergoing new ownership as the industry faces ongoing volatility. The National Trust for Local News, a national nonprofit, is taking ownership of nearly all of Maine’s daily newspapers. The San Diego Union-Tribune has been sold by owners of the Los Angeles Times to an affiliate of Alden Global Capital.
Evolving Employment Require New Employer Approaches
With increased automation and a new emphasis on worker wellbeing, where and how we work is evolving. New data from the McKinsey Global Institute suggest office attendance has stabilized to one-third below levels before the pandemic.
Many organizations are struggling to adapt to the new hybrid normal as managers attempt to strike the right scheduling balance. With the majority of U.S. employees working hybrid or remote at least some of the time, return-to-office mandates could hurt employee retention.
Intentional AI Can Improve Productivity and Assist Communicators
While the world grapples with AI, many public relations professionals remain wary of the emerging technology. Despite skepticism by some communicators, AI has real potential to boost productivity. A new MIT study found 40% higher efficiency and an 18% rise in output quality for participants executing writing tasks with generative AI assistance.
To keep up, communicators must stay up-to-date on the latest AI trends and developments. As more news outlets use AI, many are developing guidelines for implementation in the newsroom. The Associated Press recently announced a partnership with OpenAI to help train ChatGPT’s algorithm by accessing the newswire’s vast text archive.
Sequence Summaries: Media Movement, Evolving Employment, and AI Assistance