The Yearbook of Communication 2017, published by the Spanish Association of Communication Directors (Dircom), was presented on Friday 22 June at the CaixaForum in Madrid. The publication identifies seven key trends for managing PR and communications: helping to restore trust, being more strategic, working with internal audiences, connectivity, dealing with big data, content creation and social responsibility.
1. Trust. In the times of uncertainties, postruth and fake news, the main mission of a PR manager is to create certainties. Certainties have to be related to the facts and require a climate of trust. Here is a space in which the Chief Communication Officer (CCO) has to act. “We have to work to recuperate confidence”, says Dircom president Montserrat Tarrés in the yearbook foreword. Contributing to restoring trust has to do with content and people. Content must refer to the facts, be supported by data that stakeholders can access (transparency and traceability), while people, the spokesperson, must move in the territory of authenticity and empathy.
2. Strategy. The research “The CEO view communications: at the center of the enterprise”, by Arthur W. Page Society, the most recognized think tank in the field of public relations, states that the CCO should become more involved in the strategy of the organization, in the general and in each one of the businesses or activity lines. The CCO has to be closer to the business, but mainly on the side of strategy rather than purely operational. Contextual information and forward intelligence must be provided to business to sharpen their shared value promises through their products and services.
3. Internal communication. The book by IC Kollectiv “Disrupting the function of IC-A global perspective”, whose foreword has written by professor Anne Gregory, past chair of Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, reveals that internal communication is no longer The Cinderella of communication departments. “More and more studies indicate that achieving employee involvement is at the top of executives priorities“, she says. There is a permanent connection between internal and external communication, to the point where employees have become one of the main sources of information for external stakeholders. Given the climate of mistrust and disbelief in which we move, members of an organization have gained a share in terms of credibility. It is impossible to have good external communication without effective internal communication.
4. Connectivity. One of the features of our time is hyperconnectivity. This state of continuous openness to information explains the growth of “live”. Live streaming videos grow exponentially on Facebook, just like on Instagram. People want to tell what they are doing or living on line and on live, a kind of global Big Brother, sometimes shameless. People, empowered with the communication capacity provided by technology, are becoming less shy to express what they feel, what they do, how and where; when it is almost always “right now”. Organizations have to adapt to the combination of mobility and connectivity, reach their stakeholders wherever they are and through the media and channels they use regularly. We are in the era of responsive content.
5. Big data. The big data is changing our profession, it is giving us the opportunity to replace intuition with forward intelligence. Data managed through artificial intelligence systems illuminate a new era, which is coming first through e-commerce, but will reach all areas of communication, including that of interpersonal relationships. The data need to be “cooked” and “served” on dishes that are nutritious and appetizing for stakeholders. The CCO may be that chef.
6. Content creation. The climate of mistrust makes storytelling not enough, it must be accompanied by storydoing. The “Trends Consumer Engagement for 2017”, a report by the PR consulting LLORENTE & CUENCA states that “the consumer flees from the ‘spamming’ of branded content, which he considers as annoying as covert advertising, and claims content of real value to those who devote their time and, above all, their confidence”. Users, says the PR firm, demand creativity and credibility in the information they receive, “or rather, the information they seek and share“. The criterion of utility has to be involved in any strategy of generation and distribution of content, those stories that the public likes, because, in general terms, inform us, form us and entertain us.
7. Social responsibility. The trend is dubbed “social enterprise“, aligned with the requests of a society that, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, wants organizations to intervene positively in their environment through their operations. It is no longer enough to not pollute, but companies must have answers to climate change. It is no longer enough to pay wages and taxes, companies have to demonstrate how they build their profit and how they take care of talent. This chapter starts with the following paragraph: “Communication of CSR can not be understood as a corporate makeup. The economic, social and environmental commitment must permeate the soul of organizations. It is about explaining before selling, always with transparency and communicating real values. We are talking about responsible management“.
The landscape drawed by Dircom 2017 Yearbook implies a high level of responsibility and challenges for communication professionals. To live up to the circumstances of a globalized world and subjected to huge social tensions, the CCO has to be in a continuous training, especially in the areas of strategy, new technologies and human relations.
Leonardo Da Vinci said that “there is no greater government and no less than that of oneself”. The government of our future is in the hands with which we touch a present increasingly difficult to grasp.