FleishmanHillard update – future communication trends

Published on
April 26, 2013

2012 was a mixed bag of communication highs and lows.

Austrian Felix Baumgartner successfully completed the highest free-fall jump at 24 miles, capturing the world’s imagination and priceless brand exposure for Red Bull, while breaking the sound barrier at the same time. The British Royal Family continued to win hearts and minds through a stellar reputation rebuilding program, and Lance Armstrong spectacularly fell from grace, proving once again the crisis adage that the cover-up often inflicts more reputational damage than the original crime or misdemeanour.

So what does the future of communication look like?

Outlined below are seven communication trends and observations to consider.

1. Authentic engagement rules

This year will be the year when reputation really matters – when companies begin to examine the gap between how they want to be perceived and what consumers actually experience.

The bigger the authenticity gap between expectation and experience, the more companies should focus on what is necessary for true authentic engagement with stakeholders.

Key to this will be identifying the reputational drivers that are important to their stakeholders, such as social outcomes, management behaviours or customer benefits.

Companies that understand what drivers are important to their stakeholders and act to close the gap will be this year’s reputation winners.

2. The little things matter

Companies should make sure they are doing the little things right.

The latest innovation may not be as important for customers as saying thank you for their business, showing them the appropriate respect, and reducing the risk of the new.

3. “Glocal” with a conscience

Glocal – the adaptation of a product or service specifically to each locality or culture in which it is sold (Wikipedia).

Euromonitor’s “Top consumer trends for 2013” predicts consumer rejection of large-scale commercialism.

Localisation will continue to gain momentum, which will lead global brands to adapt to local culture, relevance and tastes.

4. Mobile on the move

Everyone seems to agree that this year will be the year of the mobile. All companies need to be considering a mobile communication strategy – for their customers and their employees.

Globally, mobile users are expected to outnumber desktop users, and we are currently spending twice the time on mobile devices than we were just two years ago. As a result employees will increasingly expect companies to provide information “on the go.”

5. Content is King

From a digital perspective, we will see a greater focus on content.

Companies now have the channels, but many do not have the content strategy, or editorial resources, to make full use of these channels.

This means a continuing focus on fresh, compelling, personalised content. Those who can tell stories that engage yet instruct, and adapt them to different channels, will be in high demand.

6. CEOs will really start to embrace social media

In Asia Pacific, CEOs are behind the curve in their use of social media channels. (In contrast, even the previous Pope faced up to the inevitable, sending his first tweet in December 2012!)

Educating CEOs on the benefits of social media to reach stakeholders and help them develop an authentic voice for the digital age will be critical.

7. The human touch will become ever more important

It will be important not to forget the human touch.

Face-to-face meetings will still matter, fronting up in person will still be important, real interactions versus Facebook will be most memorable.

We shouldn’t forget what makes us intrinsically human after all!

Did you know?

  • Approximately 44% of Australians currently use social media, placing Australia fourth after the United States, Canada, and South Korea. (Source: Morgan Stanley)
  • 11% of the world’s population has a Facebook account
  • 56% of consumers say they are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan on Facebook
  • Approximately 21% of Indonesians are on Twitter, making them the most Twitter-addicted nation
  • Japan is the only country where Twitter is more popular than Facebook

(Source: Social media commentary website “The Social Skinny”)

By Rachel Catanach
Managing Director, FleishmanHillard Hong Kong