People have moved on from manufactured performances and slick brands, according to SenateSHJ chief executive Neil Green, who shared his top 10 predictions for the year ahead.
In 2016, we will seek real stories from real people. He shares the Australasian communications consultancy’s annual top ten predictions for the issues and trends that will shape the year ahead.
The success of Humans of New York, a series that allows people to tell their own stories in their own words, with no agenda or direction, exemplifies what we believe people are looking for in 2016.
This year, we want transparency and straight-talking from our leaders and our companies. This year, authenticity is the ‘it’ word.
Here is a summary of SenateSHJ’s top ten predictions for 2016, or you can watch the video:
1. Being real is king
This year, “too much polish” and political correctness is out. Authenticity is in. Business and political leaders know the public want clear messages and straight talking. Corporate jargon or political rhetoric will turn them away. Successful leaders will use their own language, their own channels and they’ll talk directly to their audiences.
2. Influence me
More than ever, strong narratives and imagery will unlock influence. Consumers only want to see or hear news that interests them, and thanks to the many news aggregators available, they control what they see.
Organisations need to work harder to be included in their news feeds, creating narratives that connect and telling stories that are meaningful to the people they want to reach. Video will continue to become one of the best ways to tell these stories, to entertain, inform and influence decision makers.
3. In transparency we trust
Trust in corporates is still a vital issue. This year, consumers will continue to be wary of being lied to; they’ll demand accountability, integrity, and “walk that matches the talk”. Businesses must find ways to be influential and transparent, especially on social media.
This will call for bravery, and some risk taking. But organisations and leaders who are open, honest and communicative, will find the rewards are well worth it in the long term.
4. It’s not just about the polar bears anymore
In 2016 climate change will get personal. It’s no longer a woolly fear, it’s a real threat and it’s beginning to affect all of us in some way. More organisations will invest in the environment because people will expect them to.
Those who show they are doing this will improve their reputation. Brands that don’t will get publicly questioned and shamed – just as those brands who were perceived to be sexist, racist or cancer-causing did in the past.
5. Pull your blinds: cyber-crime and privacy
This year, cyber-security will rise up the risk register because cyber-criminals are damaging people, their businesses and reputations on a global scale. Last year’s Ashley Maddison data breach showed that for some brands, it’s impossible to recover from a cyber-attack. At a personal level, we’ll be a bit more cautious and resist sharing our details online (but for how long?).
Businesses that don’t prioritise cyber-security risk damaging their brand, reputation and intellectual property. Not to mention their customers. And while individuals may be careless about personal information, they won’t easily forgive a business that loses their personal information.
6. Self-disruption: it might get disturbing for some
More organisations and entire sectors will have to do things differently this year. Whatever industry you’re in, this year it will be shaken up, transformed and evolve in a way that will disrupt previous behaviour(s). The argument will continue to be “It’s all about making our lives easier, cheaper, healthier and more efficient”, or “We need to be more efficient to compete”.
We will see more products and services we never imagined become the norm, and “mainstream” will be redefined. But with these changes comes risk. Businesses that are slow to adapt will become irrelevant, while those that are too far ahead may crash and burn.
7. On the tight-rope of work / life balance
Technology means we demand more mobility and flexibility, and companies that offer this will win the talent war. But the same technology that allows flexible working also allows work to creep into our personal lives.
Businesses will learn to respect employee downtime and allow people to switch off. Swedish companies are trialling shorter working hours to boost staff health and company performance. This news has resonated globally: ‘nine to five’ is history.
8. If you can’t beat ’em: news media mimics PR and marketing
Shrinking staff numbers, online channels, click bait. The newsroom is morphing into an entertainment and marketing hub, and traditional journalism and balanced coverage are giving way to infotainment and celebrity news.
It’s now up to individuals to quality assure their own news sources. To reach their customers, organisations must understand who those influencers are, how they operate, and how to influence them, and develop systems to communicate directly, and more widely, more often.
9. Flight and fight – coming to a location near you
Last year more than 230 million people upped sticks for a new home. For most people, the reasons were timeless – like they sought a better life for their children. Today, terror is driving a lot of migration.
In 2016, there will be heightened concern about security and travel, as well as new challenges to diversity and infrastructure. This will create tension among the intolerant, while the compassionate among us will feel a sense of powerlessness, and a desire to show support.
10. Come together, right now
This year, communities, businesses and entire industries will collaborate. That means solving problems together. Sometimes with customers, sometimes with suppliers. Even traditional competitors will join forces to win business, and stay in business.
Entire industries will collaborate for survival. Communications will play a major part in explaining this revolution and the benefits it brings.