One of the keys to evolving the communications function at any company or agency is to step back and think through what we can and will do better or differently each year. For this look-ahead issue of PR News, I asked leaders in the communications and marketing world to share what is important to them as they look toward 2016.


The Influence of Speed

It is clear that several forces are influencing and shaping our world with speed. Those forces speak loudly. More than 50% of all content is consumed via mobile phone. The other force is the sheer volume and impact of video, whether it is Facebook’s 8 billion views per day or the compression technology improvements that make it easy to view video anywhere, anytime on any device.

Here is what Torod Neptune, vice president of corporate communications and public affairs at Verizon said about this.

“Digital video will play a much more significant role in overall brand content strategy. As mobile continues to expand even further, the convergence with more capable, ubiquitous and lower cost networks will make short-form video (e.g. Twitter, Vine and Periscope) one of the most effective and impactful tools for communicators. A big catalyst here will be the creative use of shareable video by presidential candidates in the 2016 elections.”

Measurement: Influencing Attitudes

A related trend to what Torod shared is how we measure all of this activity, so I asked Chuck Hemann, global digital analytics manager at Intel, what he sees as a key insight related to measurement. Here is what Chuck added to the conversation for 2016.

“There are attitudinal shifts during a campaign, so we need to optimize toward those shifts. It’s not purely a post-campaign perspective that we want to get. Probably one that is applicable to us, but likely applicable to all, is a shift in focus about how we measure…. We entered this year with a mandate to shift the way we measure from a purely behavioral perspective [think clicks, efficiencies, etc.] to how do our campaigns change the attitudes that we want to change. There’s a decreasing interest from senior executives to know how many clicks something received, though, in certain contexts it can be important, but rather how we influenced attitudes and ultimately drove conversion. It’s important to also note that this doesn’t necessarily apply only to digital media. It applies to digital, social, on-domain, native advertising, all of it.”

Mind The Planet: Avoid Content Pollution

Knowing that digital video, particularly short-form, is increasingly important and our measurement of behavior must evolve, we often can make the mistake of rushing to simply churn out more content. That rarely is the answer, however. Being smart about how we tell our story always matters, which is why I asked Andrew Bowins, vice president, corporate reputation at Samsung Electronics America, to share his views. Here are Andrew’s insights.

“In 2016 communicators need to look in the mirror and decide if they have become content polluters. In the frenzy to be brand publishers and leverage digital channels we may have forgotten the basic rules of PR: communicate with purpose; target your audiences and be relevant. Pull back the throttle a little, embrace data to understand your audience and shape content that actually stirs a desired reaction.”

This sounds like a great combination of what Torod and Chuck are teaching us. It’s also a reminder to avoid content pollution, one of my favorite phrases.

Building Your Team, Diversity, Innovation

I then asked Dorothy Jones, chief marketing officer at Interstate Batteries, to reflect on what we need to do to build great teams and the most innovative environment. Here is what Dorothy said:

“There are two important areas that affect our business today. We must embrace diversity in the workplace, which we view as gender, ethnicity and experience. When we do this, we have millennials and boomers learning from each other, we improve our cultural relevance, we have more depth of experience and we’re a truly authentic team. This benefits our customers directly and it is the best environment for all of us to grow professionally and personally.”

Dorothy went on to add that, “We must all be champions of change and reinvention. We need to stay ahead of the curve and build a culture of innovation, which strengthens our companies or agencies.”

I agree with Dorothy and will add what I say to those I mentor. Stay curious and keep learning every year. Learn a new language, read up on topics that are brand new, take on responsibilities that make you nervous at first and keep challenging yourself to grow intellectually and physically, reshape your habits to be the best communicator in the business that you are capable of becoming.

CONTACT: @bobpearson1845

This article originally appeared in the December 14, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.