The word ‘transformation’ has been often used to describe the deep process that companies and individuals underwent since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007. Without any doubt we can expect that the year that is about to start will continue to throw new challenges to those active in the fields of leadership, communication and professional reputation management.
Here are some of the most important factors that will influence our lives and communication in 2014.
1. Forever new technology
Technology will continue to evolve, firing newer and newer platforms and gadgets that PR professionals need to learnt to handle and promptly include in their communication strategies. With Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, three of the most important social media platforms, already on the stock exchange, we can expect more upgrades to these platforms meant to make them even more financially profitable. For communicators this means even more efforts to keep track with all the sudden changes and keep the corporate message consistent across all communication platforms.
2. We are all digital
As the world of new technology dictates our speed of living, communication managers needs to learn how to make best use of all this fresh potential. All major technology and social media developments need to be reflected sooner or later on the company website, which is becoming more and more a central focal point for the company’s virtual identity. In an economy driven by exports and expansion to foreign markets like the Czech Republic, having a flexible website with multiple options for culturally-targeted adaptations is essential. Czech companies will slowly learn to step out of their comfort zone and invest more into their digital presence if they want to reap the benefits of the economic growth predicted for 2014.
3. Corporate news, corporate storytelling
Not just the set-up of the company website won’t let PR managers sleep at night in 2014, but also the type of content that will attract readership and help the company to differentiate itself on the global market. In 2014 we can expect more investments into targeted content generation, corporate storytelling and authentic corporate news-making – brand journalism. More and more managers and company experts will learn the benefits of blogging and guest blogging. The influence of virtual content will constantly increase.
4. Videos make a thousand words
In the last quarter of 2013 a digital platform connecting video makers and companies interested in video content – called Videoflot – was launched in the Czech Republic. Its founder, David “Havran” Spáčil, a bright mind and a video-maker himself, bets on companies’ need for more professional advertising and explanatory videos. In the struggle for the public’s focus and decreasing attention span, we can expect that more Czech companies will shift their attention from text to attractive video content. For a media trainer and coach, this is music to my ears: it means that sooner or later we will all need to learn to stand in front of a camera and express our messages powerfully and authentically.
5. Media world adrift
In 2013 the global media market has been one of the most dynamic in terms of mergers and acquisitions. In the Czech Republic no stone has been left unmoved, the M&A season on the media market culminating with the news of Daniel Křetínský and Patrik Tkáč buying the media group Ringier Axel Springer CZ, publisher of Blesk, the most widely read daily tabloid on the Czech market. Following the deep structural shakes experienced by publishers such as Economia and Mafra, or by the television market, this is a guarantee that media relations specialists will have lots of work to do at the beginning of 2014 to track who’s who and why in the Czech newsrooms in the years to come.
6. Personal development
As the economy and companies gain momentum, and the communication sectors becomes increasingly complicated, we can expect that more budget will go to train communication managers into understanding the new developments and aligning them with the company vision and priorities. This is a good thing: we need more PR managers who think and act as strategic advisors to their board of directors. Communicators must make sense out of the new reality and transform it for the benefit of their companies and clients. With more budgets going into education and professional training, we can also expect more people to discover that hard skills are not enough. Emotional intelligence, emotional training, self-awareness and constant personal development will increasingly become a topic for the years to come.
7. Fragmented audience? Closer audience
As the tendencies above tend to reflect, audiences will become even more fragmented. This means that people will continue to change their means of consuming news rapidly, with little change of following them timely on new devices, or understanding their particular consumption patterns. The more fragmented the audience, the more companies need to focus their budgets on communication efficiency. This is why we can expect more investments into researching the particular ways certain audiences consume information. Some companies will stay simple: by investing more into events and face-to-face interactions they will retain and rebuild a human element of closure and authentic communication into their company culture.
All of these factors and many more other tendencies will most certainly influence our lives and the way we communicate in 2014. Overall we need to swim through more noise and yet follow our unique vision, purpose and goals. This is why maybe the most important factor for 2014 is our own capacity to slow down and gain perspective. It’s not easy to dare to swim against the wave; yet, sometimes it is the wisest thing to do. Success in 2014 belongs to those who stick with the reality, yet are able to place things in perspective and leverage the unique gifts of living in today’s world. Will you be one of them?
THIS TEXT HAS FIRST BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE COLUMN MEDIAPOWER BY LEADERS MAGAZINE ON FEBRUARY 28, 2014