The 2024 Outlook (In February!)
February 5, 2024
We have a month of 2024 wisdom behind us.
Most annual letters go out in December and January, and well, it took us a little longer. We’ve been busy. But in hindsight, this may have worked to our advantage. We’d like to think our one-month delay gives us a stronger, more informed perspective.
Although we are generally optimists, 2024 is off to an even better start than we expected.
We believe that specialty firms like ours are a good barometer for the state of the financial services industry and the broader economy.
As goes DLPR, so goes the nation? Not necessarily. But we represent an apt snapshot of what investors and corporate America are thinking, particularly in the financial arena. We work daily with portfolio managers, market strategists, and economic and sector experts. We also speak regularly with the C-suite and decision-makers as well as, naturally, financial journalists and producers.
As of today, here are key trends we are seeing:
- Amid uncertainty in the financial market and geopolitically, business leaders have a greater challenge—and responsibility—than ever before to communicate clearly and regularly to their constituents. This includes knowing when to speak up and when it may be better to stay tightly focused on their business.
- Strong optimism about the opportunity to grow the right way, through organic expansion and new acquisitions, abounds. We agree with the many prognosticators who think M&A will pick up this year.
- Optimism notwithstanding, we also observe some belt-tightening and a greater focus on controlling costs.
- Given this dynamic, many companies don’t have the budgets to undertake large marketing and ad campaigns or to attend expensive out-of-town conferences. Therefore, cost-effective public relations and earned media remain critical to companies’ growth plans.
- In an increasingly competitive marketplace, there is strong interest in public relations and marketing from sectors including private equity, private capital, wealth management, traditional asset management, cybersecurity, and crypto/blockchain, despite all of its ups and downs. For example, DLPR played a central role in promoting the SEC’s long-awaited approval for spot Bitcoin ETFs, which have taken in billions of dollars in assets in just three weeks. And with the equities market reaching all-time highs, investment managers are seizing the opportunity to bring in the trillions of dollars of cash sitting on the sidelines in T-bills, money market funds and CDs.
- There has been, and will continue to be, more transition in the C-suite. Leadership changes are underway, and Baby Boomers and early Gen-Xers are transitioning their roles to younger Gen Xers and Millennials. Cross-generational communication is more important than ever as younger individuals take on increasing levels of responsibility.
- What you’re reading in outlets like The Wall Street Journal is true: companies are still struggling with the hybrid world and the appropriate balance of working from home and in the office. For our part, we have developed a good hybrid model and are seeing strong interest in maintaining and building our culture, which is best done when we are in person.
Some additional thoughts about public relations, communications and marketing:
- Financial services firms are making the math work and allocating healthy public relations and communications budgets. They need to do so to differentiate themselves in what is often a crowded and redundant space.
- Establishing a brand name and differentiating one firm or one professional from the other has become harder than ever. That is why we are seeing a greater desire to “get out there.” Business leaders want to be more visible via media, social media, thought leadership, and on speaking panels.
- The media cycle is volatile because the news is clearly volatile. As an unprecedented (and may we dare add, an “unwanted”) election season gathers momentum, it will be even more challenging for companies to secure media coverage. Differentiation in messaging and creative storytelling is more important than ever.
What are our bottom-line takeaways for now?
This is a year to market; your peers are marketing already.
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Just one month in, we see no shortage of challenges.
There is a major opportunity to win new business, grow relationships and provide a culture of excitement and leadership. While these are sometimes frustrating (and scary) times, companies that stay true to their mission can be homes of leadership, stability, purpose and even joy.
Throughout 2024, expect to hear more from our team about how leaders can communicate through the challenging and exciting times ahead.
By: Richard Dukas & Seth Linden