Navigating a World in Flux: 2024 priorities for Communications leaders

Drawing from her recent participation in a round table hosted by Andrews Partnership, Elyse Glenn, Head of Global Supply Chain Communications, Schneider Electric, offers her reflections on the anticipated challenges and priorities for 2024.

As communications leaders, it’s our responsibility to stay ahead of the curve, anticipate changes, and prepare our organizations for the future. I recently had the pleasure of joining a forum hosted by Andrews Partnership to discuss the expected challenges and priorities for 2024. It’s always enlightening and reassuring to learn and share with other communications leaders – here are some of my reflections and takeaways, as well as what’s on top of my priority list this year.

Geopolitical understanding

Tugs-of-war between nations, economic powers clashing, and political unrest are the backdrop to business. Recognizing the geopolitical context is crucial to maintaining reputation and mitigating potential risk.

For large global corporates, ensuring all communications professionals understand this context is a high priority. With social media, digital media outlets, and a global 24-hour news cycle, messages for “local” audiences only is a thing of the past. A message for one market may be picked up in another and interpreted in a completely different way.

Brands making an active effort to understand geopolitics show they’re dedicated to being global players. It’s not just about the message anymore, it’s about understanding its implications in the larger world.

And we’re not alone in our thinking: in a recent survey of CA Leaders, 12% reported a rise in c-suite confidence in the function. Why? Communications practitioners are providing more clarity and advise in mitigating reputational risk and commercial impact when it comes to the geopolitical landscape.

Sustainability – from positioning to action

Customers, investors, and governments increasingly care about sustainability – it’s no longer optional. In 2024, sustainability won’t just be about your organization’s carbon footprint. It will be about how your brand’s mission is intertwined with caring for the planet, and backed up with concrete actions.

Communications leaders need to ensure their brand positioning embraces sustainability in deeds, not just in words.

Through transparent communication about sustainability efforts, to product sourcing, to ethical practices, brands can gain trust and credibility in this increasingly competitive space.

GenAI – reskilling

In 2023, we saw an explosion in GenAI. For many communications professionals, they’re still exploring the opportunities and challenges.

2024 is not the time to “sit back and see” – leaders must jump in with both feet to avoid being left behind. In the CA Leaders report, AI rocketed to #4 on their list of priorities to upskill their teams  — ahead of storytelling, crisis communications, and writing — demonstrating an industry wide recognition of the future of AI.

As an industry we’ll see a greater understanding of how GenAI can be leveraged to improve content velocity and effectiveness of our teams. It’s unlikely communications budgets will increase, so GenAI provides an opportunity to make a bigger impact. To get there, we’re going to need to invest time in learning the tools, skills, and methodologies – for ourselves and our teams.

The road to 2024 is paved with opportunities and challenges for communications leaders. By understanding geopolitics, integrating sustainability into brand positioning, and investing in GenAI reskilling, leaders will navigate their organizations through the ever-changing landscape, seizing opportunities while safeguarding against risks.

And the key to future-proofing in uncertain times? Informed, active, and forward-thinking communications leadership.

Andrews Partnership are the reputation experts, with offices in Hong Kong and Singapore working across Asia, as the leading specialist corporate affairs, communications and investor relations executive search firm. We excel at understanding each organisation's unique challenges and appointing the right talent, who make meaningful business impact.