BLOG: Just a minute...

Our predictions for communications in 2014

By Emily Turner

9th January 2014

Happy New Year! If you are a communicator, strategist or marketeer, then you'll probably be planning which areas you are going to focus on this year. 

To help you, we've gathered together experts across communications to give us their thoughts on what you need to think about to make the most of 2014.

Content strategy and multi-platform campaigns

Kim Plowright, digital producer, working with Storythings
"Two-screening is mainstream: 1 in 4 UK adults are chatting online about what they’re watching; 4 in 5 tablet owners are busy with the swipey-tap-tap whilst the TV is on. Twitter themselves are pushing Broadcast TV tie-ins now they’re accountable to shareholders - and publishing reports and partnering with metrics companies to put hard figures behind the hype.
What does this mean for 2014?
 
"TV commissioners will worry that an instant twitter ‘meh’ will kill their new shows at launch. They’ll also notice that for all the noise, measurable followers are a fraction of the big broadcast numbers - and demand results to justify spending on multi-platform campaigns. Budgets will keep shrinking.
 
"Dedicated 2nd Screen apps could suffer: with a fraction of the numbers on twitter itself and benefiting the advertiser more than the person on the sofa, they’ll have to have to provide a special experience to survive. Twitter native ‘cards’ are going to make that pressure worse.
 
"So it’ll be about content strategy, you can’t get away with bolting on ‘we’ll do some internet’ now. The winners will orchestrate experiences where TV is better for twitter, and twitter is better for TV."

Internal communications

Anna Rydne, internal communicator at Mynewsdesk and blogs at Communicate [Your] Skills
"I would say transparency in corporate communication is the next big thing, and that 2014 will be the year of openness.
 
"If I would give some advice on how to inject transparency into your internal communication, I would suggest that you should consider openness as a normal condition and everything else as deviations. This makes it easier to find alternative communication channels for information which can’t be made public. Also, think about what really needs to be kept secret in your company. Holding back information is no longer power. On the other hand, being a thought leader is, and thought leaders are always keen to share information.
 
"At Mynewsdesk, we don’t think we have anything to hide. That’s why we decided to launch a public MynewsdeskPeople Newsroom. Anyone can read, comment on and share our internal communication. It’s our way to transform the way people think of internal comms, and in this way, we also challenge ourselves to be newsworthy at all times." 

Public relations & campaigns

Dan Slee, co-founder, Comms2point0
"In 2014, public relations and campaigns will get more digital and harder for practioners. Why harder? Because those with a long career will find the pace of change tougher to keep pace with. 
 
"For those starting out they will find it easier. But will continue to be frustrated in many cases as they hit a glass ceiling built by non-digital natives. Risk takers will prosper. Campaigns that made a virtue about being digital will become the norm and digital will become the expected way of communicating. 
 
"At the end of 2013 Coca Cola made waves by saying they were ending issuing press releases in the not-too-distant future. But that'll take many more years to filter through to other sectors.They'll be around for years to come. But like a canal that runs parallel with a railway, their dominance is over."

Google power

Gordon Gower, chief GoGo'er of GoGo Consulting
 
"What's in store for social media in 2014? Probably more, more and more of the same although the emphasis on 'content marketing' seems to have reached a crescendo. Perhaps 2014 will see people questioning the impact this has had on ringing in sales? Expect top 10 best tips on how to cut through the clutter and develop messages to lead your customer to your cash register next year.
 
"Also, Google will CRUSH it. I'm no lover of all things Google, but as Google+ becomes more and more intertwined with Google Apps for business, it will simply become the go-to social platform. It's already out twittering Twitter, out instagramming Instagram and out Skyping all voice and video hook-ups n' hangouts in terms of functionality. 
 
"I'd not be surprised if everyone finally tires of the big blue mess that's become of Facebook. Fragmentation and specialised social engines will continue to be released, but will 2014 see us even further wrapped into the brilliant search-based, ad-word world of our Googly overlords? It'll happen without us even realising it."

Public sector & digital

Simon Wakeman, head of communications and marketing at Medway Council and East Sussex County Council
 
"So as the public sector looks ahead, the need to reduce spending in the sector through the general election of 2015 and beyond continues to loom large. The success of the Government Digital Service in driving genuine business transformation and customer improvements through the intelligent use of digital will be the model for the sector. Their success to date has demonstrated that by building high quality digital experiences the sector can reduce costs and provide a better service for citizens.
 
"While the growth of practitioner-led, grassroots innovation in the sector is encouraging, it will demand greater traction with senior decision-makers if it is to have a real impact on the way the sector does business. The sector needs to deliver transformation through digital, while learning to engage with a digitally-networked customer, and harness the latent capacity of networks in communities. By doing this the combination of better experiences for citizens and reduced costs is within reach for 2014."

Legal

Steve Kuncewicz, lawyer IP, media and social media

"The law’s influence (or lack thereof) on use and abuse of social media was a subject that was never far from the public eye in 2013. High-profile incidents included the shocking abuse directed towards Caroline Criadio-Perez after successfully campaigning to have Jane Austen included on the £10 note, Sally Bercow’s ill-advised tweeting about very serious allegations concerning Lord McAlpine, the posting of allegedly current photographs of Jamie Bulger’s killers in breach of an anonymity injunction, and Peaches Geldof’s naming of the mothers of the victims of serial paeodphile Ian Watkins (and the huge damage caused to the artist formerly known as 'H from Steps' when photos of him were linked to reports on Watkins due to their common name).
 
"2014 will see the introduction and implementation of some potentially wide-ranging reforms of media and communication law which could have a lasting effect upon the regulation and development of social media content for the foreseaable future. First up is the newly-minted and now in force Defamation Act 2013, which introduces the requirement of 'serious harm' in defamation claims in an effort to discourage trivial actions.
 
"We are also likely to see a number of high-profile prosecutions after the introduction of the DPP and CPS Guidelines on Social Media Offences last year; some of which may well reach trial (in particular those involving the alleged abusers of Caroline Criado-Perez). It will help to clarify what many see as fairly vague (if pretty sensible) rules on when trolls will be hauled before the court and what kinds of behaviour will be tolerated before the police step in.
 
"An ongoing review of Contempt Of Court laws by the Law Commission to keep it fit for the digital age (as it probably isn’t right now) and includes measures to safeguard publishers of archive content, along with regular warnings on live cases that should not be commented upon to avoid prejudicing proceedings from the Attorney General, should also help to clarify how far social media users can go in making their opinion on court cases heard.
 
"We’ll also see an increase in adjudications by the Advertising Standards Authority over social media-based campaigns and a crackdown on spam messages by the Information Commissioner.
 
"All in all, we’ll see (mostly) greater clarity and an acknowledgement that the law has to move with the times and do better at keeping pace with technology and changing behaviour. As much as users may never want to think about their legal liabilities, knowing a lawyer who’s familiar with them may be the best friend request you send this year."
Read our blog on whether you are in legal hot water if your clients or customers libel each other on a site you host.

Social media

PS Here are my thoughts for the next 12 months...
The launch of Jelly this week shows that there is a wave of hybrid applications yet to come which merge search engine, information resource and visuals. This means communications teams will need to monitor even more online spaces and time will be further eroded by demands to respond, offer customer service and protect reputation.
 
Keeping on top of core platform demographics and how to move with migrating audiences will be a challenge, in particular for organisations wanting to engage the under 20s who've dropped Facebook.
 
The explosion of instant messaging apps, such as Snapchat and WhatsApp, means creativity will rule supreme in resonating with younger target groups. Getting and retaining attention will need an injection of innovation in a world which gives you six-second videos, 10-second Snaps and 24-hour Snapchat Stories. Have a look here to see how brands are using Snapchat.
 
Once media-facing only, communications teams are now increasingly dealing with the public, often in coordination with customer service teams. The priority handling order for journalists, customers and members of the public is blurred – all are equally important when it comes to reputation management online.
 
Our Socialbury events tell us that communications teams are facing internal barriers when it comes to social media adoption within their organisations. They are often held back by senior management teams who are reluctant to let go of traditional communications rituals. 
 
To demonstrate the worth and value of social media, communications teams will need to work hard in 2014 to set goals, measure and report performance to their senior management to get buy-in. Without the backing of senior staff, customer service across social and online will be stuck in fire-fighting mode.