Trends are always changing, and this is never truer than in the communications industry.
Whether you work for an agency or in-house, communicators should embrace these five key trends we expect to influence communities and businesses.
1. Brands Taking a Stand
As we roll into another election year, there’s no doubt we’ll see more brands take a stand on an issue – or be forced into one. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of global consumers prefer to purchase products and services from companies that stand for a purpose. Couple this purpose-driven spending with the fact that almost half (49%) of consumers surveyed believe brands can do more to cure social issues than the government, and it’s evident that people are demanding and rewarding companies that step up in authentic ways that align with their values and personality.
Chick-fil-A’s The Time Shop and Patagonia’s environmental commitment are two excellent examples of brands that are impacting issues important to consumers and are thus reaping the rewards. We expect, and quite honestly hope, to see more brand activism in the future.
2. Finding the Human Angle
The world is increasingly ruled by algorithms and electronic devices, which means communicators need to focus on the human element to break through and get their messages across. Recent research reveals that consumers primarily use emotions when evaluating brands, rather than information. For companies looking to make real emotional connections with their consumers, they need to make people care. It’s just that simple.
In 2020, communicators should seek the emotional connection in every piece of information, product launch or company news. Figure out why it makes people feel good and tell that story. Cut through the clutter and all the negative news by sharing impact stories of how your company, product or service is helping to make us all better. That’s truly newsworthy.
3. Getting Personal
With the evolution of smart devices like Alexa and Ring, all of us expect brand experiences to be hyper-personalized and tailored to our individual needs. In order to meet this expectation, companies are scrambling to leverage data to build more segmented and targeted audience profiles. Overall, communicators are still catching up to their marketing counterparts when it comes to research budgets.
In 2020, companies that figure out personalization can then tailor all content — PR, advertising, employee communications, social media — to each audience appropriately. Don’t just blast the same message across every channel. Instead, use all of your channels (owned, shared, earned, paid) in a customized way to connect with people on a personal level.
4. Sustainability—Beyond Giving Back Programs
We all know the importance of giving back, but we’re continuing to see research that says consumers and employees are demanding more than fundraisers and donations. Brands committed to using quality ingredients (76%), treating employees well (65%) and maintaining transparency in their operations (74%) continue to draw positive and sustained attention and growth.
In 2020, we believe corporate sustainability will be an increasing focus as businesses re-engineer their products or business models to meet demand. As technology transforms supply chain management, prepare to communicate with all of your stakeholders about how your products are sourced, created or built.
5. A Shift in Work Culture
The relationship between people and work is changing, and it’s directly evident in the way managers engage with their employees. Gone are the days of work-life balance. Now, employees are seeking work-life integration – an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define “life” like work, family, community, personal well-being and health. Managers seem to be supporting this trend – offering options like flexible work schedules and helping employees develop personally as well as professionally.
In addition, more than 75% of workers identify “managing multigenerational teams” and “different work expectations across generations” as current challenges. Work environments are being shaped by the needs and desires of employees, and it’s not just ping-pong tables and bean bag chairs anymore. The entrance of Gen Z into the workplace will continue to shape all business decisions that impact corporate culture.
While the concept of community is not traditionally associated with the culture inside the workplace, we believe employees are craving community — connection, purpose and belonging — and this is possible in business when leaders prioritize trust and transparency. We expect change management communications to take a more central role in this process — helping leadership work through growth challenges and ultimately become a stronger community.
If you’d like to talk more about the ways KWI helps companies build communities through communications in 2020, you can reach us via email, phone, social media or carrier pigeon (if you can find one).