July 23, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

What will 2017 hold for communicators?

What will 2017 hold for communicators?

It’s that time of year again, when seemingly everyone is trying to prognosticate and predict what the next year will look like for business.

Communicators are no different, and a new report out from the Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California provides an interesting glimpse into some of the trends we’re likely to see either emerge or continue in the new year.

The sections are broken into the following topic areas: Media, Communications, Technology, Brand, and People. The authors of the 30-plus pieces represent a wide range of communications professionals, including some with major brands, some with agencies, a few who work for social platforms, and a number of professors and instructors at the Annenberg School. The report provides a comprehensive collection of relevant perspectives in the field of communications and PR.

I was particularly interested in the Media section, given how much that model has changed over recent years, and yet it remains a significant and important part of public relations and communications work.

The Media section features two pieces that discuss how important video has been and will continue to be for communications. As usual, there’s something there to make many of us feel old, in this case it’s the ease with which teens have adapted to a video-centric existence on social channels. Another article points out that video ad spending has increased significantly, topping $5.5 billion in 2016 alone.

Video clearly needs to be in a communicator’s toolkit, but smart use of it (like any platform or medium) is key. I expect that we’ll see a lot more video in 2017—the main question is whether or not it will be good quality video.

Another piece in the report takes a sobering look at the media business model, and how the fall in prices for digital advertising is affecting the bottom lines of news outlets. While advertising revenue is plummeting for mainstream media sources, it’s skyrocketing for Facebook and Google. As Facebook continues to struggle with its newfound role of being a news distribution channel—and it is—it is making a great deal of money off of advertising revenue. The coming year will be an interesting one for Facebook as it struggles to figure out how to balance its incoming revenue with the responsibility that many say it has to identify fake news and propaganda in an effort to reduce the dissemination of content that is false.

As a Gen-Xer, I have become accustomed to my particular band of age group being ignored or overlooked, so I wasn’t surprised that the Media section carried pieces that discussed cord-cutting Millennials and then the lack of representation of Boomers in entertainment media. Maybe 2017 will be the year of the rise of Gen-X as a demographic worthy of attention? Nah, probably not. And that’s okay too.

Annenberg’s compilation is called the Relevance Report, and it’s download only and available at this link. I’ll be taking a similar close look at the other sections in upcoming posts.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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