How comms services providers see the future of communications

We asked our community of vendors and agencies how they see the future of the PR world after COVID-19. Here’s what they predict.

What's the future of comms?

What’s next for communications after COVID-19?

For service providers and vendors, getting ahead of industry changes is the difference between big success and loss of market share. We asked for their predictions once businesses reopen fully.

Here’s where they think we are headed:

Ellen Feaheny, AppFusions: “Demand and require more tools to communicate, learn and share not just with their internal network, but also their coveted external network. Membership controls, enterprise authentications, integrations and curated and intelligent content creation feeds—in holistic strategies—[constitute] … a competitive edge that grows a critical corporate asset that compounds with time.”

Jordan Yocum, Page One Power: “I expect the growing need for higher-quality internet, and more tools associated with working remotely, such as Slack, Zoom, etc.”

Agnes Molnar, Search Explained: “I think the value of information management and knowledge management will be increasing significantly. With more people working from home … tools and technology are not enough, their mindset and skillset also have to be aligned.”

Janet Wilson, Logico Creative Solutions CC: “Getting the right information to the right people at exactly the right time through AI.”

Brian Collier, Nuvi: “Basically, the crisis told every company, keep up or you’re out, just like any crisis does. And where are they trying to keep up? Social channels—where people eat, breathe and live. … [W]e will see social be taken more seriously as a viable and integral strategy for businesses to remain relevant.”

Dan Beltramo, Onclusive: “Content marketing will become ever more important as traditional media channels continue to fracture and outlets continue to multiply.”

Darius A. Ross, D Alexander Ross R.E. Capital Partners: “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human interaction in relation to current data sources and information impact planning. How AI and technology will challenge human interaction to make strategic decisions in split-second timing and with split-second accuracy.”

Roger Maes, StatePoint Media: “One big challenge will be finding and adjusting to a new normal, both in relation to external factors (e.g., regional pandemic flare-ups) and internal factors (e.g., the changing office environment, remote workers).”

Matija Martek, Mediatoolkit: “Communicators might soon turn towards the impact they generate in their organization and completely eradicate the use of vain metrics like AVE. Using analytical data and enriching it with expertise on brand reputation or understanding of the market helps detect key points of interest for the stakeholders.”

John Seibels, PhotoShelter: “[B]rands will need to share purposeful and authentic visual storytelling. … [B]rands are getting personal and giving audiences a direct line to the people behind their organization. … Communicating with content that’s authentic, personal and highly visual is the best way to continue to reach your audience.”

Irene, IVRM Reputatie: “Communication will outperform marketing.”

Jason Etter, Staffbase: “Communicators are going to be expected to be the single source and authority for employee experience … in a scalable way to tens or hundreds of thousands of employees.”

Megan Testani, Red Level: “Organizations had to adapt to new ways of doing things through new technologies; I expect to see a refinement of the tools and the uses to make pixel to pixel a little closer to face to face.”

Brian Hayes, Lewis: “People will stop making claims that are vague, unsupported or hyperbolic … ‘industry-leading,’ ‘best-in-class,’ ‘next-generation,’ ‘superior,’ ‘innovative,’ etc.”

Sam Keninger, Simpplr: “Organizations simply will need to be more deliberate with company updates and better master top-down communications at scale. As organizations grapple with reintegration, communications will be constant and critical until we’re all vaccinated. New office protocols, office scheduling, health standards, etc. put IC’s job in hyperdrive.”

Charlie Terenzio, Newswire: “Businesses have put large portions of their budgets into paid and social media, but … businesses will put more attention into owned media and leverage that to land earned media … to reach larger audiences without having to pay for play.”

Kelly Batke, ThoughtFarmer: “Because we now have the technology to support ‘in the moment’ updates, leadership teams will leverage these tools to keep more employees in the know with frequently changing information. I think we will also adapt to communicating uncertainty.”

Rebecca Dersh, Cision: “The importance of metrics and proving how PR impacts real business results will grow significantly.”

Gregg Castano, NewsDirect: “Vast improvement of the cost-benefit model. … This change will greatly impact not only how much is charged for expected results, but if those results justify that expense, as well.”

Todd Grossman, CEO Americas, Talkwalker: “I foresee an increased used of data and AI-powered technology by communicators to convert analysis into actionable insights, with creativity, ingenuity, and sensitivity.”

Jonathan Davies, Happeo: “We’re going to change the way companies perceive Internal Comms by focusing on what they’re great at, and giving them tools to help in other areas. Internal Comms will start to measure what matters, be able to decision-making metrics to the board and become a partner to the organization at large.”

Eliot Hoff, APCO Worldwide: “There is going to be significant transition period between what can be called the active crisis and the world as we knew it. We may never get there. This necessitates that every organization look at how and what they communicate, to ensure that meaningful messages are getting through to their key stakeholders.”

Michael DesRochers, PoliteMail Software: “Primarily remote workforces and some significant reductions in staff.”

Austin Sandmeyer, Beekeeper: “For internal communicators, digitization of communications with frontline workers will present a significant challenge. A recent Harvard Business Review survey found that 55% of business leaders expect their frontline workforce … will be using digital communications tools within the next two years. Based on … our own usage data, we expect that number to be much higher.”

Greg Galant, Muck Rack: “The majority of PR will move their workflows from spreadsheets to dedicated software. PR pros will look for a single source of truth for business-critical data like media contact information and coverage, team activity and reporting. This will enable PR pros to conduct better research, more efficiently send personalized pitches and be able to easily use data to guide decision-making.”

Peter Walker, PublicRelay: “This crisis will only accelerate the shift away from vanity counting metrics towards insightful data. … [T]here will be a merging of internal and external communications narratives. … The best employers will recognize that amplifying the positive experiences of their own employees is an invaluable way to create genuine external interest.”

Cathy Del Colle, Burrelles: “PR and Communications is an integral part of a company’s ability not just to survive the pandemic, but to thrive beyond it.”

Jennifer Friese, Business Wire: “Corporations and agencies have been resilient and have demonstrated the ability to pivot quickly as authentic and trusted communicators. Future communications will include feature/human-interest news, robust visual interactive elements, and enhanced measurement.”

Sarah Casdorph, Aware: “The boom of remote work. Companies like Twitter, Facebook and Shopify have already announced a long-term shift to remote work. Communications will need to invest in digital solutions and community management strategies in order to effectively reach, connect and support their entire workforce.”

David Benigson, Signal AI: “AI will power a different type of decision making where AI and IQ come together. … These current and emerging AI powered tools will be critical to the success of tomorrow’s strategic communications leaders.”

Joanne Skilton, Unily:
“Huge investment. … Business that invested most heavily in their communications teams are those that have been most adept at managing the crisis. … [W]orkers are more productive and connected to the business than ever before.”

Duncan Smith, Beezy: “Successful companies know how absolutely crucial internal communication is in shaping the behaviors that support organizational change. … Get out of email! Stop marketing to your employees. If it is not urgent, don’t use synchronous IM tools (like Teams or Slack). Take a more authentic and purposeful approach.”

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