2016 was the year of ___ in PR. 10 top communicators fill in the blank

PRWeek asked 10 communications leaders what they focused on in 2016 and what they're looking forward to next year.

2016 was all about…

Cision VP of marketing communications Nick Bell
2016 was the year of integration in PR. In past years, communication teams have used disparate solutions to identify targets, craft their campaign content, and analyze their efforts. However, in 2016, we recognized the value of breaking down silos. Communicators must bring an integrated mindset to the table to effectively shift to consistent, meaningful outreach and execute campaigns accordingly.

Axis Capital Holdings chief communications officer Joseph Cohen
The past year has been one of political and social turbulence, and we continued to see the erosion of trust in the institutions that we have relied upon – traditional media, science, government, and now social media news feeds due to the emergence of fake news. With the public looking for new, credible sources of information, the playing field is changing, and we’re facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities as comms pros.

Katie Beirne Fallon, Hilton Worldwide SVP and global head of corporate affairs
Authenticity. The debate over fake news that was ignited by the election reminded us about the value and importance of authentic stories and voices.

GNC CMO Jeff Hennion
2016 was all about change – people having the courage to change, change coming at us from all different places (large and small), and individual expressions that, at times, have a much deeper and broader reach than even the largest brands.

Jeff Kuhlman, chief communications officer for the Americas at Bentley Motors
2016 was the year that trust was destroyed.From assurances by thought leaders that outcomes were assured in Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, to the rise of fake news, to corporations that failed the public, to the threat that terrorism is in our backyard, public trust in institutions that serve and protect us died. We, those who work on reputation and image, have a challenging road ahead.

Avocados from Mexico president Alvaro Luque
The rise of the food influencer. With a vast millennial audience at their fingertips, every meal instantly became Instagramable, Snapchatable. With their ability to stage the perfect plate and pique the appetites consumers mid-scroll, the most influential foodies can now "make or break" food trends. For restaurants and brands, earning the support (and social posts) from this group is shifting from a "nice to have," to mandatory for success.

SoFi VP of comms and policy Jim Prosser
Continued disintegration of the line between editorial and promotional. Some of the results are great—I loved the new publication Chase and Vox Media created around travel—but much of it confuses the public and poses long-term danger for journalism and, in turn, PR.

Linda Rutherford, VP and chief communications officer, Southwest Airlines
2016 was the year of getting all our messaging into a tightly organized and synchronized universe that fully leveraged our owned, earned, and paid platforms.

Allan Schoenberg, VP of global corporate communications at Nasdaq
Continuing to focus my team on using the most influential channels of earned, owned, and social media to articulate our fintech narrative.

USAA chief communications officer Chris Talley
2016 was the year of simplification and integration in PR.

In 2017, I will be focusing on…

Cision VP of marketing communications Nick Bell
In 2017, I will be focused on data-driven attribution. The same data, tech, and measurement transformation that hit paid and owned media is now coming to earned media, and is at the forefront of our industry’s next evolution. Recent advancements in communications and marketing technology tools will give PR pros the ability to analyze effectiveness by interpreting data across the entire lifecycle of an earned media campaign.

Axis Capital Holdings chief communications officer Joseph Cohen
Change management will be an area of focus. The coming year could bring significant change as the incoming U.S. administration will likely introduce new policies affecting the business, media, and regulatory environments across a range of sectors and on a global scale. As such, a key priority will be helping our organizations and employees understand and adapt to the coming changes that are likely to affect a number of businesses, organizations, and categories.

Katie Beirne Fallon, Hilton Worldwide SVP and global head of corporate affairs
Empowering authentic voices in the telling of Hilton’s story. With more than 4,800 hotels across 105 countries, and 370,000 team members hosting millions of guests each year in communities everywhere, we have a powerful network of messengers to activate. Against a backdrop of global political and economic uncertainty, the stories of our employees and guests can help spread the light and warmth of hospitality to the world.

GNC CMO Jeff Hennion
In 2017, I will be focused on taking an 81-year-old successful and historical brand and re-launching with a new business model all driven from two years of listening to our customers tell us what they want and need in a health, wellness, and sports nutrition provider.

Jeff Kuhlman, chief communications officer for the Americas at Bentley Motors
In 2017, I will be focused on impeccable storytelling across all platforms. If we are to restore trust in our institutions, we need to appeal to people at a very personal level, and storytelling is an effective and universally accepted way to build bridges.

Avocados from Mexico president Alvaro Luque
Not only leaning into the wellness trends that our consumers are following, but also driving the trends themselves. We recognize that healthy snacking is an attractive message to a small subset of people, but tasty snacking that is also healthy hits a wider audience. We’ll continue to prioritize taste at the forefront, while also bolstering our efforts to amplify health and wellness trends through key initiatives and partnerships.

SoFi VP of comms and policy Jim Prosser
Illuminating stories that build trust. With everything that transpired in 2016, it feels like trust became an even-more-valuable currency—trust in our public institutions, trust in the information we digest, and, most applicable to SoFi, trust in our financial institutions.

Linda Rutherford, VP and chief communications officer, Southwest Airlines
In 2017, I will be focused on how we can bring learnings from neuroscience and behavioral science into our communications efforts in an effort to create more compelling and effective discourse with our various stakeholders.

Allan Schoenberg, VP of global corporate communications at Nasdaq
Enhancing our global narrative around the key fintech business drivers from our new CEO, which include internal and external campaigns that drive and facilitate our clients’ ambitions.

USAA chief communications officer Chris Talley
In 2017, we will be focused on simplifying messaging through a common communications agenda.

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