The Past, Present and Future of Media and Communications
by Dan Cummins
by Dan Cummins
The world of public relations and communications is constantly changing, but we can do our best to make predictions. That’s why, each year, we ask several colleagues, clients, journalists and experts what they expect will dominate our industry in the year ahead.
This year, as we kick off a new decade, we’ve decided to do things a bit differently and collected what our respondents believe to be the most surprising communications happenings from the 2010s and also what trends they see dominating the 2020s.
Take a look below at what we got back. Did we miss anything? Let us know through the contact form at the bottom of the page or reach out to us on Twitter.
“The rise of rogue Twitter accounts following President Trump’s inauguration, such as Alt Parks Service.”
“I didn’t expect the misery of the last few years for journalists, especially in digital media. I’d convinced myself that the worst times for the industry came in the wake of the financial crisis and that somehow digital media companies were going to figure out a business model that would prevent layoffs. Seeing so many of my incredible colleagues and people I admired across the industry get laid off this year and last was really, really hard.”
“I was writing about media when The New York Times went behind a paywall in 2011. The skepticism in the business that it would work—that people would pay in significant numbers for news they were accustomed to getting for free—was overwhelming. It gave me doubts. So it’s been gratifying, as both a consumer and creator of news, to see that the skeptics were wrong.”
“The war on facts and objective information. The rise of social media platforms has sidelined the traditional gatekeepers of accurate information and they’ve been replaced by advocates, many of them nefarious, who hold no allegiance to telling or distributing the truth.”
“The most surprising thing to me in communications, especially for presidential races, is how little money seems to matter. That’s very counter-intuitive because the campaigns and the reporters that cover campaigns spend so much time focused on who is raising and spending the most money. And yet, in 2016, Trump got so much media coverage that it overcame a massive spending advantage for the Clinton campaign. Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have already spent $200 million on advertising for their campaigns, to almost no impact. Money is a big help, for sure, but it has to be spent wisely.”
“The power of 140 characters (now 280) to drive a news cycle. Twitter is the alpha and omega now.”
“The national repercussions following acts of defiance and political activism, aided by digital media. Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem beginning in 2016 comes to mind. His silent, action-oriented communication fueled ongoing protests on police brutality and racism. Dozens of other athletes followed suit; Nike doubled-down on their Kaepernick sponsorship, designing an entire campaign around him; companies had to decide how they were going to respond to the public discourse on the issue; and NFL owners came under fire for their refusal to sign the former standout quarterback. Talk about a ripple effect…”
“The drive to make things authentic. We increasingly expect our entertainment and news feed to be tailor-fit for us, but still have the need for them to be relevant and real. As our traditional institutions increasingly become less trustworthy and functional, we all yearn for content and messengers to fill this authenticity gap. Communicators that can do this will be the success story of the ‘20s.”
“As technology continues to improve and communicators have access to more data about their intended audiences than ever before, expect campaigns and companies to tailor their message and delivery mechanisms with unprecedented precision. That new viral ad or Iowa television spot will still matter, but battles will be won or lost with custom messages generated to resonate with a specific individual on their personal devices.”
“Public trust in social media platforms will decline, and they’ll increasingly be seen as venues for isolating and confusing people, rather than uniting and enlightening them.”
“Data—like water—must be harvested, confined and channeled to be used for good.”
“The battle against the misnomer of ‘fake news’ will make significant progress. The public will turn to and once again start trusting substantive news institutions and an ever-higher premium will be placed on authentic, credible communicators.”
“Direct to consumer and constituent communications. Whether it be through social media, emails, texts or whatever the next technological trend is; communicators are finding ways around traditional media to reach their audience.”
“An acceleration in the siloing away of deeply reported and factual content behind paywalls resulting in a paucity of free, quality information for low-income citizens.”
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