The changing face of corporate comms

The corporate comms landscape has changed significantly in the past five years, and the next five are likely to see even more radical changes.

As the new political term gets under way it’s a good time to look at what changes the next five years could bring for corporate comms.

In 2015 we are at the heart of the digital revolution. The world has changed for good since digital channels overtook offline globally in 2013, when 57 per cent of daily media consumption was dedicated to digital (GlobalWebIndex). In 2014 internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage for the first time (IDG Global Mobile Survey).

Tablets were only launched in 2010 and have sold millions, though recently this has stalled as ‘phablet’ smartphones have taken hold – smartphone sales reached 1.2 billion worldwide in 2014, up 28 per cent on 2013. Twitter users soared from 30 million in 2010 to 302 million in 2015, and LinkedIn members from 64 million to 364 million. App numbers are also at record levels of 1.21 million on Apple and 1.43 million on Google Play in 2014.

Technology, social media and choice mean power is firmly in the hands of the consumer, not the producer of information.
So what can we expect in the comms landscape in the next five years? Here are four predictions.

First, no let-up in fast-paced technological change. 5G mob­ile technology is due to be rolled out by 2020, which will
deliver even faster speeds as well as meet the needs of new uses such as the Internet of Things. On the product front, while tablet growth is being challenged currently by new-generation phones, at the same time rumours abound of new super-tablets.

Second, corporate comms in a mobile world will be ever more tailored as well as digitally designed. Business apps were the fastest growing app category in 2014. User-oriented content such as The Economist Espresso App launched in late 2014 exemplify the trend, delivering bite-sized information daily at 5am.

Sophisticated film will also be increasingly used in corporate comms, enabling companies to help audiences und­erstand who they are in a format that engages them. YouTube has one billion users and while film is not new in corporate settings, its form and function is changing rapidly. Five years ago it was rare for video to be shown in a City presentation; these days the opposite is likely to be true. In the next five years film is less likely to be standalone but published as part of a corporate campaign.

Finally, despite the decline of traditional media consumption, there is evidence that news output will remain important to consumers even if the way they are consuming it is changing. A recent US survey (The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute) among millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) showed they consume news daily, but on mobile devices and from social networks. They are most likely to happen upon it on a friend’s online feed. This is a trend that will trickle up to older generations, even if they never read an actual newspaper or watch the evening news on TV.

By the time we reach 2020 and the next general election, we can expect corporate comms to have experienced as much tech-driven change in the next five years as it has in the past five.

Laura O’Connell is managing partner at Instinctif Partners

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