Now that we're well into the fourth quarter, we're in the heart of planning season. I'm frequently being asked, “What are the big trends out there?” and “What are other communications organizations doing that I should be thinking about?”
Here are eight developments I'm seeing.
• Corporate character. The “new model” introduced earlier this year by The Arthur Page Society is taking root. A deep understanding of what a company is and how that must be at the core of everything it does is being increasingly appreciated. Research it at www.awpagesociety.com. Some great videos and information on the site. The new model is gaining traction.
• A greater role for corporate. Even the most decentralized organizations are appreciating the need for better orchestration of all a company's communications in today's digital world. Furthermore, given the greater complexity of the new media landscape, a growing number of Centers of Excellence are being incubated at Corporate (social; listening, etc.).
• Transmedia storytelling. Messaging is increasingly a component of a larger storytelling orientation that requires leaders across the organization to become proficient collectors and tellers of stories. Communications pros must become effective storytelling coaches with an emphasis on teaching personalization and how to tell these stories across many media platforms.
• Robust listening. The instantaneous and largely open nature of the social world has made it possible to actively listen to conversations and uncover real insights. In turn, this knowledge can and should inform everything from customer engagement to reputation management, content creation to employee ambassadorship.
• Campaign orientation. Many corporate communications organizations are running themselves as political campaigns: daily meetings, message of the day, total coordination of all communications, etc. The trend started with retail and airline companies, but is now spreading across many industries. The CCO is the chief campaign strategist; all business units participate regardless of reporting structure.
• Content creation and syndication. Increasing consumer pressure for transparency and engagement means companies increasingly must act as producers and publishers of content. All companies are now media companies. It's a big opportunity and a major growth trend: build content hubs, create compelling content in many formats (e.g. written word, pictures, video, data visualization, animation, etc.), and syndicate aggressively.
• Blurring of internal/external. Little is confidential anymore, so there's a growing appreciation that internal communications is – or can be – for external consumption, as well. Embrace the new reality and take advantage of it. Empower employees to act as ambassadors. Provide them with great content they want to share.
• Metrics matter. Access to real-time monitoring and measurement is leading not only to much more effective identification of key performance indicators for any given activity, but also to real-time course correction capabilities. This was nearly impossible when monitoring came in quarterly or even monthly intervals. Try to have at least one person on your staff dedicated to analytics – and be sure that person has the right background for the job.
Some big trends out there, but they all represent exciting new opportunities for communications professionals.
Bob Feldman is cofounder and principal of PulsePoint Group, a digital and management consulting firm. He can be reached at email@example.com. His column focuses on management of the corporate communications function.