Top Trends Driving Change in Communication

Our career-building workshop in January tackled Top Trends Driving Change in Communication and provided a forum for discussion on how best to meet these changes. We started with an introduction to 5 of the most sweeping changes that are certain to affect communication professionals everywhere. We then asked a few simple questions to get the conversation started. Try answering our questions yourself to assess how well you’re ready to meet change — or develop a personalized career development plan. The top trends are below. Here are the questions to keep in mind:

  • What changes are you seeing in your world?
  • How do these or other changes affect what you need to know/learn to be successful now and on your career path?
  • What one thing can you do to position yourself to meet these trends proactively as you plan your career building strategy?

1. Personalization of Brand Messaging

This refers to both ends of the messaging spectrum. How information is gathered and how we approach our consumers and other stakeholders.

What began decades ago as the ability to individualize direct mail with a person’s name, has become an expectation that — if your company wants my business — you’ll know my buying history and preferences, and my friends. And you’ll tailor your interactions with me to how and when I want to hear from you.

Amazon developed the initial blueprint for how to do this exceedingly well. And now brick-and-mortar stores – like Target – are using GPS to track in-store buying habits, too.

When it comes to outreach, personalized branding can be as sophisticated as recognizing a customer by name when they click on a company’s website, or as simple as Coke’s “share-a-coke-with” campaign. (Which was one of the most successful in Coke’s history.)

2. Changing Visual Trends

Massive changes within the visual arts are occurring across the spectrum of communication — photography, gifs to gifys, video, podcasts… In short, as the amount of information we communicate continues to explode — and as technology advances — our messages must be immediate, simple, succinct, meaningful and clear.

To meet the changing demands, a new role has emerged: visual designers. Rather than just bringing brands to life, visual designers play a key role in defining what goes into a brand’s unique style and voice. These folks have to explain the design concepts and the decisions behind their work.

Fast Company says: Brands will have to become more nimble and executed both more quickly and simultaneously across all channels.

3. New and Emerging Platforms

Do a Google search for collaboration tools and Go-To-Meeting, an early standard, doesn’t show up in the top 10 search results. Slack, Google Docs, Confluence, Skype for Business, IBM Notes, Microsoft Teams, iMeet, Open Meetings, Trello, RealtimeBoard… These are a few of the collaborative platforms transforming how work gets done.

And collaboration tools is just one category of new software that’s transforming how we communicate with one another. If you’re not versed in these — along with the plethora of emerging virtual reality, augmented reality and mobile apps being used to communicate with customers, team members and clients — you may be out of step with your peers.

4. Gamification

In terms of data collection, gamification is all around us. Facebook uses fun quizzes and surveys to collect information about its users. From this information they can create a stunningly accurate snapshot of an individual’s political views, furniture and fashion style preferences and much more. You can now access that information from Facebook for a fee.

Gamification can also be used to increase engagement and build relationships with customers. M&M’s created a Where’s Waldo-like game to introduce a product extension in the form of Pretzel Guy. A small part of a massive marketing campaign, it was fun, charming, engaging and enormously effective. It resulted in more than 26,000 likes, 6200 shares and 11,000 comments in its initial launch.

5. Media Fragmentation and Loss of Trust

It’s probably no surprise to anyone to say that the public has lost trust in what they read and see as “news,” which dramatically affects the PR side of communication. Companies must be open and transparent in how they do business or they’ll lose stakeholder trust. The same is true from a marketing perspective. Customers want to feel good about the brands they use. And for consumers to feel good, brands must do good. Subaru’s share-the-love campaign for example. A full 90% of Americans say they are more likely to trust and feel loyal to brands that give back to social causes in some way.