OK, a few thoughts about 2008

January 2, 2008

Like most, I can’t resist doing a little prognostication.

I won’t pretend to be nearly as insightful as some others who have clearly thought about this more than me. Here are Sally Falkow’s thoughts about trends to watch in 2008. 

I don’t look for anything startlingly new. But I do look for a whole lot more of the same and that is very significant. I remember Bill Gates saying a few years ago that when looking at the future in technology, next year won’t seem to change much but when you look back over five years, you see massive change. I think in 2008 the basic trends that are currently underway will deepen considerably, and those really add up to very significant facts of life for those involved in public relations and crisis communication.

Authenticity–last year I declared 2007 the year of authenticity, and we have seen many of the battles around reputation and crises relating to whether or not a person or organization can be trusted. In numerous conversations I had in 2007 with communicators it became clear to me that while communicators are struggling with this, their bosses, the senior execs of major organizations are not yet anywhere close to understanding what this instant news, everybody has a right to know everything all the time world we live in really means to them. I think many more will come to understand the basic rules of credibility, openness, honest and transparency in 2008 and that therefore this movement will accelerate. But, most will continue to pretend that the old ways and old rules apply. So, many if not most of the crisis communication challenges faced by professionals in 2008 will center around the resistance in their organizations to be authentic.

Wired–I just got an iphone. For one reason, the technology that we provide can largely be run by this kind of mobile device, and what can’t be, we will address. The point is that the wireless world we live in further accelerates the need for speed and the opportunity that speed brings. So, the instant news world continues to accelerate and the ability that communicators have to deal with also increases. If you are not getting yourself thoroughly mobilized, you may find yourself bogged down in a too little too late world.

Media madness–Falkow’s post includes an interesting article by Jeff Jarvis on the continuing decline of mainstream media ad base. This will accelerate without yet any clear answer to how the giants with billions invested can remain vital in a world based on smallness, directness, and minimal cost. Many won’t. Yet I think new models of journalism, information processing, credibility proving will emerge. Because as mainstream media gets more and more crazy with their coverage in efforts to build and hold declining audiences, the need for people to find those sources they can trust will also accelerate.

Video–again, a trend well underway. Virtually everyone in communications has a long way to go to really adopt video as a key component of almost all communications. But it will happen. I think in 2008 we will see huge growth in the use of video and major new technologies to make it easier and ubiquitous.

Collaboration–not a new trend, but a much greater deepening of a trend already underway. “Plays well with others” has become essential in technology these days. Software has to collaborate with other software as it follows the need for dispersed people, teams, groups to work together. We are more and more involved with something called “interagency interoperability” because of the work we do in local, state and federal government emergency communication. This means that people from different agencies who are used to throwing stones at each other are being forced to cooperate and collaborate. The technology they use needs to support that collaboration, but more than that, the way they are trained, the expectations built, the common processes and procedures, and personal attitudes all need to support this collaboration.

Communication technology–OK, this is close to home since I am in the business of supplying web-based communication management technology. But it is now well known that communicators tend to be technophobes–at least us older ones. That can no longer work. Message development, strategy, etc., now need to go hand in hand with how those messages are delivered. Part of this is the growing realization that we live in a post media world. I’ve been saying this for eight years now, and I continue to be amazed at how the thinking at even the top levels of government and large organizations demonstrates that this idea is yet to be adopted and understood. Communication today is about fast delivery of information to audiences as directly as possible and that is about technology. Communication today is more and more about interaction–one on one, groups to groups, many to many–all of which depends on technology. So, if you are one who puts your keyboard up on top of your desktop so you can make room for real work, be prepared to be trampled. The world of communication is more and more the world of communication technology.

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