Will the sole focus of 2020 be digital communications? Not quite. The future belongs to those CEOs and communicators who master both digital and in-person communications. Here are the five trends that will shape communications in 2020 and beyond.
1) The CEO is becoming the centre of attention: Recently, CEOs, founders and executives have been ramping up their social media and digital presence. Many also stepped up to the mic to deliver keynotes at high-level events and conferences. In 2020, the spotlight will shine even brighter on CEOs, as they are expected to have an authentic personal presence on digital networks, lead the constant evolution of their organisations to stay competitive and attract customers and talent. More than ever, the reputation of the leadership team matters for the success of any organisation.
2) Beware the new breed of crisis: Last year we saw a plethora of reputational crises, from Boeing to Deutsche Bank. Unsurprisingly, companies are increasing their crisis prevention and preparation efforts for the 2020s, not least due to the increased risks of cyber-attacks, the growing likeliness of internal whistle-blowers and the lasting effects of public scrutiny. Preparing for the unforeseeable is growing ever trickier as global connectivity and digital communications have obliterated the concept of a ‘local’ crisis. That is why companies need to throw away the old manuals and prepare for the crises of today.
3) Automation of standard tasks: Automation will gain pace in 2020. Repetitive tasks such as social media updates, blog posts and analytics reports will be handed over to intelligent software and AI-powered solutions. This need not be a cause for despair: it will be an opportunity to spend more time on areas where communications has the biggest impact, like developing cutting-edge communications strategies, rehearsing powerful speeches or speaking to employees in a meaningful way.
4) Purpose will form an integral part of any successful communications strategy: Businesses are responding to the changing expectations of their stakeholders. Ethical investors choose businesses that, in addition to providing good returns, align with their values, beliefs and vision. Conscious customers are increasingly aware of the social and ethical implications of their purchases. And you would be hard-pressed to find employees who are motivated to work solely for greater profit margins. In order to succeed today, businesses need to communicate that they are driven by something other than profit. Commit to a purpose and communicate it.
5) Voice and audio rising: Although artificial intelligence and digitalisation have revolutionised, simplified and accelerated the way we communicate, humans yearn for a return to authentic and spontaneous voice-based messages. In an age of overload of short-form, text-based media, human voice communications is undergoing a revival. Long-form mediums, featuring intimate conversations with real people, such as podcasts, Instagram Live or YouTube videos see their audiences grow. Voice technology will only accelerate the move to audio formats in the coming decade.
As you prepare for this new year and design a future-proof communications strategy for your business, be mindful of these five trends. The upshot: mastering both digital and in-person communications will put you in a great position to succeed in the 2020s, whether you are a CEO, founder or communications professional.