What CES Can Tell Us About the Media Landscape for 2024

The year’s biggest tech show has come and gone: In the aftermath of CES, the Caster crew dissected our onsite experiences and overall media coverage of the show. We spotted some media trends that could have an enduring impact on the tech PR landscape in the year ahead.

There is no denying that CES is the most covered and publicized tech show around. Even before I was in the industry, I remember watching those early morning broadcasts “live from the show floor” with my parents before school while I munched on my cereal. The show has long stood as a guidepost for what we can look forward to in tech. As the first big event of the year, PR pros can also look to the media coverage to help us see what the year ahead may hold.

Here’s what we will be keeping in mind for the year ahead.

Shrinking and Stretched Press Rooms Continue

The shrinking newsroom is not a new factor for PR pros to consider, but it continues to become more pronounced. Over the last year alone, some of the most prominent news organizations like CNN, Gannett, NBC Universal, The Washington Post, Conde Nast, and Vox have faced staff reductions. Just this week LA Times cut 20% of their jobs (ouch!) Adding salt to that open wound, more and more media companies are experimenting with AI for content creation despite companies like MSN, CNET, and Sports Illustrated facing criticism for publishing AI-generated articles.

What did this mean for CES and the year ahead? Media attendance at the show has continued dip as budget cuts impact both available staff and travel expenses. We saw a lot more media covering remotely, which moved pre-show briefings from “nice to have” to “absolute must.”

We observed a high number of syndicated CES stories from the Associated Press in Tier 1 publications this year. Even flagship news organizations aren’t necessarily doing original reporting on the show, leaving a small handful of extremely high-value onsite targets. The AP reporters are, in turn, getting absolutely buried by pitches. Reaching these journalists’ “focused inbox” requires year-round relationship cultivation. For clients, know this will take time. And PR pros: be kind to your journalist friends – they’re enduring a tough go.

The Hype Factor is Important But it Has a Limit

CES is a haven for established tech companies to launch new products or for new tech companies to launch their brands. The media, however, are more discerning than ever about products that could end up being vaporware. We can’t blame them: With smaller newsrooms, the pressure to get the right story is ever-present.

In times of economic uncertainty, it’s natural to wonder if tech companies can sustain growth, manage their costs, and navigate the potential slowing of consumer spending. Past hype cycles around crypto, autonomous vehicles, Matter, the metaverse, and more now look premature at best and credulous at worst. Tech-literate journalists have grown cautious about repeating the overly optimistic reporting that characterized those periods.

What does this mean for PR pros and clients in 2024? Carefully consider what is really news and what will speak to the audiences you are trying to engage with. PR pros have to be more thoughtful than ever about how we position news for individual journalists. The story has to make sense for what the journalist covers: Don’t clutter their inbox and risk getting yourself categorized as spam. Most of all, the story has to be real. Come with hard facts and proof points, or don’t waste your or the media’s time.

Don’t Discount Digital Creators

While the traditional media count seemed to be slightly down at CES, we saw an increased number of digital content creators. As brands look for new ways to connect with their target audiences, digital content creators including YouTube and TikTok influencers are becoming a bigger part of the story. In their post CES story Insider Intelligence noted:

“The creator economy has infiltrated almost every industry and is reshaping how consumers think about work and making a living. One in 4 US consumers ages 16 to 25 plan to become a social media influencer, per a July 2022 study by digital marketing agency HigherVisibility…. As the economic downturn continues to weigh down ad budgets and disrupt industry norms, creators provide a cost-effective and inventive way for brands to reach their audiences through boosted content.”

These individual influencers can drive massive grassroots growth, particularly for B2C brands. Note, though, that it can take years of engagement with influencers and communities, proactive pursuit, and strategic adjustment to lay the groundwork for virality. Like any other PR or social media campaign, consistency is key. There are many opportunities to spark and strengthen connections with creators at events like CES, but they must be part of a longer term play.


Traditional media is in a crucible, facing heat from AI competitors, shrinking ad revenues, and dwindling newsrooms. The publications and journalists who emerge from this trial are being reforged – they’re hardened, skeptical, and selective. In this highly challenging environment, you can’t expect to capture anyone’s attention merely with cool tradeshow news. You need to already have their trust and interest before the show hype cycle begins.

Meanwhile, new consumer outreach models are maturing. Digital creators aren’t a replacement for traditional media – their role reflects the origins of modern PR, when Edward Barneys got his secretary to recruit young NYC debutantes to smoke Lucky Strike “Torches of Freedom” at women’s rights marches. Digital content creators facilitate this kind of taste-making campaign on a massive scale. For digital creators and traditional media alike, however, you need a plan to authentically appeal to them year-round. CES is a touchpoint, not a strategy.

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