A somewhat clear-eyed view of what’s next for Communicators, Marketers

What is it about a new year that people need to project their opinions and perspectives? I have no idea.

But here goes…2019 will be a year of:

Incredible acceleration for the stratification of employee roles and the redefinition of organizational purpose and definition resulting in a reconstitution of vision, values, and efficacy.

Digital has already broken barriers and removed silos. For employees this means dealing with much more ambiguity and exhibiting new levels of confidence as they traverse across the enterprise. As such roles and titles will take on different meaning and scaling will move from the corporation to the individual. Communications will move from broadcast to discussion fueled by employee interactions and influenced by strategic decisions in the C-Suite and the marketplace.

As industries and segments evolve, brands and organizations will continue to evaluate their real value proposition and with that the overall design of their model. For example, will traditional product development organizations now find it prudent to become distribution houses as innovation gets dispersed among a wider ecosystem? Will automobile manufacturers shun hundreds of years of investment and technology in gas powered drivetrains for electric and autonomous vehicle production?

Doing so will require a complete redefinition of the character and value of the business.

Asking the right question and the most important question a CEO can ask about communications and marketing is: How active are my employee and customers?

In a digital and social environment, people have the means and the interest to get involved in myriad areas including the company and brand(s). Being active with networks and communities both in sharing company information as well as gathering audience insights is a new and incredibly powerful skill that keeps organizations vibrant and relevant. CEOs then need to determine if the culture, technology and management model is geared for this dynamic.

Focusing on the right things. The essential skill for success is Judgement. We live a data enriched world. Translating data and analytics into insight and then determining the approach and decision is where your value resides. In 2019, judgement will be a key determinant in career success.

Designing the business and brand around Relevance. In a digital reality, Relevance is the new Reputation. If you are not relevant you don’t exist. Relevance becomes the blending of corporate goals and assets with stakeholder beliefs, interests, and expectations including macro social goals. Done right, stakeholders engage in meaningful relationships and discussions with the organization keeping the relationship real.

Social Stories both inside and outside the organization. Short, produced by employees and customers, social stories are believable and informative. They reflect true experiences and offer tips and lessons to the user. These are not promotional in nature but informative and interesting.

A new hybrid Corporate Communications Capability. A melding of critical areas with aspects of Marketing, HR, and even Technology this function will transcend the entire business enveloping the areas where employees and customers are impacted. A mix of competencies that allow for a flexible execution of services and capabilities across the company.

A New Management Model that turns managers into facilitators.  The significant change is how managers make problems employee solutions. Instead of spending time addressing challenges their role is engaging employees in the solution. Titles and scope of responsibility will be redrawn to bring more people into the decision-making apparatus. Employees who are consensus builders, innovators, free thinkers, change catalysts, communicators, and planners.

Health. From a personal standpoint to an organizational one, the radical reengineering of medicine and health focused on a long and healthy life will overwhelm lifestyles and organizational missions. Companies are already making health a priority among the workforce to ensure continuity and productivity but the approach will begin to get even more acute. Communicators, marketers, and leaders will all play a significant role in this transformation.

Corporate ResponsibilityThe evolution of Corporate Responsibility is fast becoming a critical agenda item for many CEOs and BODs. Governance is more about the sustainable care and respect for environmental, social, and welfare of the community, market, and planet. This is not an altruistic endeavor but rather essential to recruiting and retaining talent in a global reality. Being a forceful voice at the table is an expected behavior for today’s communications leader.

Catalytic Culture. 2019 is the year we will experience a more kinetic corporate culture where people not only integrate and work across lines and boundaries and learning to adjust to different talent needs. The effort results in people who are catalysts in getting things done and bringing different thinking and skills together. Communications in a digital oriented environment must reflect real time accessibility of information, content, and feedback.

Discover vs. Sell. We have been saying for some time that in a social/digital world, people need to discover vs. being sold. In 2019, this base philosophy will be universally adopted by marketers and communicators alike.

The start of a new year is always an exhilarating time. Regardless of the typical prognostications, four things are important to ensuring you make the most of it:

  • Exhibit Common Sense
  • Utilize Insight
  • Listen Intently
  • Act Quickly

Here’s a to Healthy, Happy New Year!


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