A new report says the communications industry will be impacted by three macroforces over this current decade, forcing significant change to the discipline’s function, both inhouse and agency.
The new report, titled The Future of Communications and part of opr’s Future series, takes an in-depth look at the cultural, economic, social, political and technological forces impacting marketing and communications, and the resulting themes, skills and structures that every inhouse or agency communications team will need over the next decade.
“We believe there are three macroforces impacting the communications industry over the next decade. These include the Trust Gap, the Liar’s Dividend and the Platform Economy,” said Richard Brett, opr Agency’s Chief Executive Officer and the report’s author.
“There are seven subsequent insights emerging from these macroforces that will not just re-shape communications, but also change the communications function, both inhouse and agency.”
The report is based on research that includes client interviews, a client and communications leader survey, an analysis of global thought leadership in the area, a distillation of global conferences and a synthesis of the latest communications research.
The seven insights are:
1. New Skills, New Structures: There are three clear areas becoming more and more crucial for communications - corporate reputation, engagement and performance marketing. Each impacts the structures, people and skills that teams must have in place to deliver on each.
2. The Multi-stakeholder Era: One theme that emerged from client interviews was increasing complexity. Organisations are now engaging with more and more stakeholders, and with the continued growth of social media, a proliferation of vocal audiences must be engaged.
3. Internal Communications to Cultural Leadership: Disruptive times means many companies are transforming, and to be successful, CEOs must take their people with them; change cannot be achieved otherwise. This means internal communications is more important and become a broader discipline that encompasses both behaviour change and the total employee experience. Happy, engaged employees who embrace change and be beacons for the organisation’s story are crucial to success.
4. The Rise of Corporate Brand: In an era where organisational behaviour is under increased scrutiny and companies expected to help solve the world’s problems (and speak up on societal issues), the corporate ‘brand’ is now just as important as the traditional house of brands. New research from the Arthur Page society says communications leaders are being given increased responsibility to be involved in both brand marketing and the leadership of the corporate ‘brand’.
5. Telling to Doing: Communications used to be about telling and talking. Today, as our recently released book The Decade of Do argues it’s about doing.
I. Business of Purpose:
Campaigns that have purpose - solve a problem or do good, have been winning accolades and proving their effectiveness. Now there is an evolution to bake in purpose at the heart of a company’s values and strategy. Communications is moving from being an add on, to being at the centre.
II. Connecting and Community
Increasingly we have seen the engagement that has been created by campaigns that bring people together. This trend has been accelerated during Covid-19, and we believe is here to stay. All over the world we have seen people come together to sing, play music, clap and even put their bins out. This is translating into highly effective campaigns, such as recent work we created with Lung Foundation Australia that uses empathy and creative connections to solve problems or create engaging content.
6. CommTech & Performance Communications
MarTech is not new, but communications has been slow to adapt. Now CommTech, or the integration of performance marketing and sales enablement into earned and social, has potential to drive real effectiveness and efficacy for the industry. We believe this is essential and since launching our capability last year, we have a full-time team of three specialists.
7. Meme News: Storytelling in the 2020s
Between 2009 and 2018 the number of teenagers who read newspapers declined from around 60 per cent to around 20 per cent (The Economist). They get their news from social media. News that must be visual, shareable, humorous and be from a personality they connect with. Pew reports that 85 per cent of American teenagers use YouTube; and more than 70 per cent use Instagram. Instagram news sites such as @houseofhighlights, @theshaderoom and @nowthisnews cover everything from the climate crisis to celebrity gossip and sport. This has profound implications for communications - as these youngsters become tomorrow’s consumers – it means we must create content that follows these same rules: visual, shareable, funny and delivered from their favourite social influencers.
Brett concludes: “We decided to focus on the Future of Communications as it was a topic many of our clients wanted a point of view on. It’s also of critical importance to us as an agency, to ensure we evolve and develop the products and skills to effectively advise our clients and create campaigns that are relevant not just today, but also in the coming years.”
For more information, or to request a copy of the report, please go here.