What’s Next? Predicting Industry Trends

From the rise of Twitter movements and cheetah print coats to the fall of the Green Bay Packers and Hollywood stars—I’ve been obsessed, horrified and uniquely captivated by this year’s trending topics.

And while I would like to believe that all of the above are important trends to have witnessed, none are vital to the communications industry. I’ve touched on this year’s trends relative to journalism and public relations in the past, but as the year comes to an end I find myself absorbed in what comes next for communications professionals.

To find out, I took a peak into the future using my desktop crystal ball, a staple for every professional. Free next day shipping for Amazon Prime members.

Just kidding.

Predicting next year’s industry trends is not an exact science (unfortunately) so I did what any public relations professional would do – research.

I investigated what several leading industry publications believed would be the top trends of the new year, and used the trends that appeared the most often to create the following list:

  • Loss of trust in media organizations and fragmentation
  • Blurred lines between editorial content and advertising
  • Influencer marketing normalization
  • Growth of digital storytelling and video content
  • Increase in live-streaming, moment-to-moment and social media content

While I had my suspicions on which of the above five trends would most influence the communications industry next year, I posed the following question (including the above trends) to our team at Nuffer, Smith, Tucker and let them decide anonymously.

Which of the following trends do you predict will have the greatest impact on the public relations industry and how communications professionals do business in 2018?

Although it took some coaxing (and reminding), 14 professionals responded to my query over a three-day period, yielding the following results:

Ian Transfiguracion, Creative Director

Sixty-four percent of respondents believed that the loss of trust in media organizations and fragmentation would have the greatest impact on the public relations industry and how communication professionals will do business next year.

Increase in live-streaming, moment-to-moment and social media content garnered 22 percent from respondents, while growth of digital storytelling and video content, and influencer marketing normalization tied at seven percent. None of the respondents chose the blurred line between editorial content and advertising.

As the NST team and other communications professionals prepare for the new year, in ways both professional and fun, I thought it would be helpful to take a look at the top two trends and its implications.

Loss of trust in media organizations and fragmentation

Nine respondents chose this trend, and although they were not required to explain their choices, many did. They expressed their observations and concerns that current events have accelerated the loss of trust in media organizations. They also noted this trend is further complicated by individual consumers’ inability to curate media outside of their own belief system—whether through choice or algorithm performance. Some also pointed to a nationwide burnout on negative news, noting many “quitting social networks to escape the screaming bubbles.”

No surprises here, given this era of “fake news.”

As I’ve mentioned before, it seems no media organization is safe from the loss of trust and fragmentation of the modern age, despite their efforts to meet current reader preferences for the information to be available online and on social platforms.

But if media organizations continue to serve media to their own belief system bubble, will they dig themselves in a deeper hole with other readers, listeners and viewers, making it harder to gain their trust? Are media companies to blame for creating content to match the beliefs of their audiences, or are they not doing enough to challenge the tools that silo their work?

Increase in live-streaming, moment-to-moment and social media content

Again, no surprises here. The constant stream of beeps, alerts or breaking news bulletins flashing across my screen can seem like proof enough of this trend.

According to the Financial Times, live-streaming has become a focal point for platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, and the practice has begun to trickle down through brands and its influencers.

Then there’s social media, which as I’ve mentioned before has changed the game in terms of content creation and only continues to grow. More and more media outlets are beginning to use social media to report the news as it happens, and engage with the community around them. It’s an appealing trend.

Why write a press release when a tweet will do? Why ask media to attend a press conference when they can watch the live-stream on Facebook? But is there any value lost? If video content is king, will having a background in digital storytelling become more important than writing and editing for traditional media? Only time will tell.

I This research was conducted as anonymously as possible, but it’s important to remember NST is made up of like-minded public relations professionals who spend 40 hours (or more) together in an office every week. Although we think for ourselves, it’s not uncommon for our opinions to rub off on each other.

If you had to answer the same question, what would you chose?

Need more information to make an informed decision? Download the 2018 Industry Trend Predictions Answer Explanation Guide for more background on the above trends.

Ready to cast your vote? Click here.