Diese Präsentation wurde erfolgreich gemeldet.
Die SlideShare-Präsentation wird heruntergeladen. ×

Breaking down the silos - the future face of communications industry

Breaking Down the Silos: 
The Future Face of the 
Communications Industry 
IABC Ottawa 
University of Ottawa 
Table of Contents 
Introduction 5 
About the day 5 
About the International Association of Business Communicators 6 
A more competitive environment 24 
Reputation and credibility matters 24 
Speed vs. Accuracy vs. Content 26 
Is More Infor...
Wird geladen in …3

Hier ansehen

1 von 33 Anzeige

Weitere Verwandte Inhalte

Diashows für Sie (20)

Andere mochten auch (17)


Ähnlich wie Breaking down the silos - the future face of communications industry (20)

Weitere von International Association of Business Communicators UK (8)


Aktuellste (20)

Breaking down the silos - the future face of communications industry

  1. 1. Breaking Down the Silos: The Future Face of the Communications Industry IABC Ottawa IPSOS University of Ottawa March 2012
  2. 2. Table of Contents Introduction 5 About the day 5 About the International Association of Business Communicators 6 About Ipsos Reid Public Affairs 6 About the Ottawa University Public and International Affairs Program 6 About the design and layout 6 Executive Summary 6 What does it all mean? 10 Some final thoughts from the panelists 10 Mike Colledge 10 Mark Blevis 11 Alan Freeman 12 Issues Facing Communication Pros: The Next Five Years 14 Great Communicators Past and Present 16 Would yesterday’s great communicators succeed today? 17 What made communicators great in the past? 18 What Does The Future Hold? 20 Speed is of the essence? 20 Need to be clear, concise and transparent 20 Understanding and dealing with niche audiences 20 Monitoring and measuring 20 Reputations and relationships 20 Being different 21 News Today How It Has Changed? 22 News today 22 Technology and choice are shaping the face of news 22 The rise of citizen journalists 23 Rise of infotainment 24 Speed and brevity are driving news and content 25
  3. 3. A more competitive environment 24 Reputation and credibility matters 24 Speed vs. Accuracy vs. Content 26 Is More Information a Good Thing? 28 Yes, more information is a good thing 28 Maybe, more information is a good thing 28 More information is not a good thing 29 What Will The Communication Tools of Tomorrow Look Like? 30 Changing Demographics 32 How Prepared Are You For The Future? 33 Steps to prepare for the future 33 Evaluating Your Success 34 Will likes and tweets be the currency of the future communicator? 34 Measuring outcomes: Three main questions 34 Appendix 36 Ideation session methodology 36
  4. 4. 5 INTRODUCTION About the Day … Breaking Down the Silos: The Future Face of the Communications Industry On March 20, 2012, over 40 participants gathered for a day-long Ideation Session (see description of Ide-ation methodology in Appendix) at the University of Ottawa to collaboratively discuss and define the future of the communications industry. Facilitated by expert moderators using the Ideation Exchange software provided by Ipsos-Reid, participants were able to leverage technology to create a high-energy, interactive and efficient alternative to more tradi-tional qualitative approaches—which resulted in the creation of this report, based on the session. Real-time electronic format of the Ideation Exchange allows for simultaneous input and the ability to actually see the ideas of the entire group as they are introduced into the dialogue and to observe how the discussion evolves. Moderators can quickly understand and explore areas of divergence and convergence among participants, allowing for both a full airing of options and ideas, and for conclusions and decision-making where appropriate. The discussion was wide ranging and, while reaching consensus was not an objective of this session, the report that follows certainly points to a degree of convergence of views among the participants. The par-ticipants included 30 communications professionals from a broad variety of backgrounds and 10 graduate students from the School of Public and International Affairs at the University Ottawa. Following the discussion panelists Mike Colledge, President of Public Affairs Canada, Ipsos Reid; Alan Freeman, Public Servant in Residence, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Ottawa Uni-versity; and Mark Blevis, Digital Public Affairs Strategist, provided a brief overview of the discussion, with each highlighting what they considered to be the key takeaways.
  5. 5. 6 About the IABC Ottawa … Founded in 1970, The International Association of Business Commu-nicators (IABC) provides a professional network of over 15,500 business communications and mar-keting professionals in over 80 countries. As a member of IABC Ottawa, you can tap into a wealth of resources and opportunities that will help increase your value as a communicator. IABC Ottawa brings communications, marketing and creative professionals together to grow in their career and succeed in their jobs. About Ipsos Reid Public Affairs … We are the social research and corporate reputation special-ists. Ipsos Reid Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, group of seasoned research professionals. We conduct strategic research and intelligence gathering for wide range of public and private sector organizations. Whether it is through public opinion research, elite and stakeholder studies, corporate and media research, program evaluations or the measurement of social media activities we provide our clients with the evidence they need to make decisions that move their organizations forward. About the University of Ottawa Public and International Affairs program … The Uni-versity of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs was created in 2007 to offer a bilingual, multi-disciplinary curriculum designed for Master’s students wishing to pursue careers or graduate studies in fields related to public policy, global affairs and international development. The Graduate School takes a multi-disciplinary approach that reflects the fact that in the era of globaliza-tion, the distinction between national policy-making and international affairs is increasingly blurred. The program is taught by faculty with varied backgrounds, including history, economics, political science, law, philosophy and sociology. The Program also benefits from the presence of several distinguished practitioners, including former senior government executives and diplomats who enrich the program as Senior Fellows through teaching and mentoring of students. About the design and layout … This report was professionally laid out by Fiona McBean. Fiona is an experienced graphic designer and has worked extensively with companies on finding the right ‘visual voice’ for their design needs. You can view samples of Fiona’s work at http://fmdesign.carbon-made. com/ You can also contact Fiona at fmcdesign@hotmail.com.
  6. 6. 8 Executi ve Summar y This report is part analysis and part summary of the day’s discussion. We have been liberal in our use of direct quotes from the day as we feel the participants’ words usually say it better than we could have – it was, after all, a discussion among professional communicators. For example, perhaps one of the most telling quotes of the day came from one of the participants who said, “’Don’t tag me in those pictures’ is today’s equivalent of ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’” This comment not only summarized one of the key themes that emerged from the day’s discussion (that the near universal adoption of social media has changed how we interact and communicate), the fact that it was tweeted by several of the participants within seconds of it’s being uttered exemplifies the impact of this particular shift on the art of communica-tions today. Indeed, while the title of the session was “the future of communications,” its subtitle could have been “the impact of social media.” The rise of social media was the backdrop and context for discussions about the challenges associated with keeping up with the ongoing changes in and the increasing speed of communi-cations. The quest to be first to publish is something that has always driven media outlets, but this drive is now being accelerated by the 24/7 news cycle, the thousand channel universe and by social media. And it is not just outlets that have multiplied. With universal access to new media channels offered by social media and mobile technology, a flood of new actors have embarked upon this quest. Communicators are even facing competition from average citizens who may not have any professional training or education but who have a voice through equal access to the same communications tools. In this context, many of the tried-and-true practices such as checking facts, ensuring accuracy, editing for clarity, offering alternative or complementary view points and proper spelling are falling by the way side and creating a “reader beware” mentality among average citizens, who sometimes find it necessary to check multiple sources.
  7. 7. 9 For better or worse, participants in the sessions are witnessing a clear shift in the practice of commu-nications on several levels. The table below illustrates the main shifts. While more and more often, the medium is the message (thank you, Marshall McLuhan), there are some very basic tenets of good communications that remain. Clarity (clear simple messages) and honesty (as well as sincerity) are the constant and critical attributes when evaluating any communica-tor or communications. The questions ‘Was it easy to understand?’ and ‘Do you believe it?’ remain the first ones to ask. And, because of the changes to the context in which communicating happens (more noise, less time, more selective hearing), communicators need to remember that brevity is the soul of wit (thank you, William Shakespeare) and pay more attention than ever to the old marketing mantra: “What’s in it for me?”, now applicable to a multiplicity of audiences, each with their own needs and concerns. PAST PRESENT Art and passion Science and strategy One mass audience Many niche audiences Limited platforms Multiple platforms Personalities Brands Fact checking by pros Fact checking by public Fast but get it right Fastest no matter what Professional spokesperon Self-Appointed Advocates/Critics Quality Quantity
  8. 8. 10 What does it all mean? Some final thoughts from the panelists … Mike Colledge, President Ipsos Reid Public Affairs Speed isn’t a new issue – being first-to-market or first-to-publish has always been a key to success. It may be accelerated due to the emergence of social media but it has been and will always be a factor in any endeavor be it communications, busi-ness or politics. The issues I think are most profound are the rise of the citizen communicator and the fractioning (or segmentation) of audiences. These changes need to be con-sidered in every communications activity – and this goes well beyond gaining a better understanding of your many audiences (although that is important). It goes to the heart of public af-fairs strategies. In the past, most public affairs and marketing campaigns were designed to move those not yet convinced of an argument or not yet loyal to a product. Research was done to determine which seg-ment of the population was most likely to move and what messages/information were required to move them. In today’s world this approach has been flipped on its head. Now, while you still need to do your research and determine which segment of the population is persuadable and understand what messages/ information they need to hear to be persuaded, rather than trying to carry forward those messages your-self, I think the best strategy is to identify your supporters, find the most vocal among them and arm them with the messages and information that will allow them to use their voice to persuade the persuadable. Your supporters have less self-interest and, as a result, more credibility than you do when they advocate for your cause; and your supporters can likely reach more people than you can. We first saw this phenom-enon in elections where social media has been widely used to organize and rally current supporters but not to attract or convert new ones. The next step as more and more people become content creators will be to use current supporters as a means to reach deeper into the ever growing number of niche audiences. My final take for communications professionals (and as a graduate of a Mass Communications program in the mid ‘80s) is your role is changing in ways no one could have ever conceived. In the past I would have argued that every organization needs a strong head of communications to guide the ship and ensure a considered and corporate perspective is being put forward. Today, I am more convinced that all business leaders need to be responsible and engaged in communications. I don’t think that communications as a standalone function will have the same seat around the executive table, instead communications skills and knowledge will be a prerequisite for all (from CEOs to CIOs to CFOs) at the C-suite table.
  9. 9. 11 Mark Blevis, Digital Public Affairs Strategist Social media are democratic. We all have access to the same channels and essen-tially to the same mass international audience. This brings about unprecedented opportunity and insurmountable challenges for both individuals and organiza-tions. We’ve seen how both sources can influence (Dave Carroll’s United Breaks Guitars and Invisible Children’s Kony 2012) and be affected by (Jason Russell’s very public breakdown and Dell Computer’s near collapse) the discourse. Communicators, particularly those working in politics and public affairs, must learn how to efficiently and effectively rise above the noise just to be heard, use creative storytelling to ensure their message sticks, and incorporate scalable calls-to-action which harness the energy of the public because, for the most part, people want to be involved in something bigger than themselves. The Kony 2012 campaign is a great study of those qualities. The many reasons it was criticized were the exact same reasons the campaign was successful with an unheard of ROI most non-profits will only ever dream of. Interestingly, that campaign’s success has also provided an equally public example of the pres-sures placed on communicators to gain and retain public attention and how instant international celebrity status can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion. Compressed messaging, compressed news cycles, compressed pockets of attention have colluded to put compressed pressures on communicators. But, let’s not focus on the dangers. Let me circle back on reaching your audience and overcoming some of the attention deficit challenges of social media. Many people suggest the key ingredient is content. While quality content is important, I believe context is the secret sauce of any successful campaign. Understanding how to craft messages which exploit the strengths and navigate the weaknesses of each channel, and of each audience, will distinguish the capable communicators from those transplanted from mass communication environments. Finally, understand that messages emanate within a network of networks. During last year’s federal election I was often asked why Twitter would matter in the election. I noted Twitter would not affect the outcome of the election; not at that point of Canada’s digital political lifecycle. That remains true today. Twitter, like other social media channels, is a digital water cooler. It’s where people gather to discuss issues. That discus-sion emanates from an epicentre. That is, public policy discussions will always emanate from political insid-ers (politicians, staffers, campaign workers) to journalists, to political enthusiasts, to hockey dads and soccer moms, book and knitting clubs, etc… It’s the amplifier effect help communicators determine which issues matter and how. This means communicators have to learn how to listen just as well as they have to learn how to share.
  10. 10. 12 Alan Freeman, Public Servant in Residence, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa As a onetime journalist who began work on a typewriter at a time when the emerging technological breakthrough was the fax machine, I have seen how tech-nology has radically changed the world of communications. I can still remember getting my first work computer, really nothing but a primitive word processor, in 1979, my first email address in 1996, my first cell phone in 1998 and my first BlackBerry in 2007. These technological advances have generally been posi-tive, making the work of journalists and communications professionals easier in many ways, and speeding up the spread of information. But I’m not sure it’s actually resulted in a better informed public. If the events of the past few decades can teach us anything, it’s that the speed of change means that predicting the future has been perilous. When mobile phones and the web became ubiquitous in the late 1990s, predictions at the time focussed on the independent impact of each technology, not on how the two would merge into the world of smartphones. And when BlackBerry was at the top of the heap a few years ago, if we had run an Ideation seminar, nobody would have predicted that Twitter would be on the tip of everybody’s tongue today and that BlackBerry would be looking like the world’s next version of the Sony Betamax. So I think it’s fair to say that we don’t really know what the next big trend will be, particularly if we look five years hence. But I can assure you one thing. It probably won’t be Twitter or Facebook and maybe not even social media. It will likely be something different entirely, a concept that is still embryonic in the mind of some nerd in Silicon Valley. This rapid change makes it difficult for communications professionals, particularly in big organizations like government, to adapt. The reflex in government when there is a new thing is to create a new unit to handle it. So government departments speak of creating social media units, presumably to add to their pre-existing web units and their publishing units. By the time these units are set up, the technology will probably have moved on to something else. So it’s better to take a page from the experience of the media themselves where social media is simply another tool for journalists and editors, rather than a standalone unit made up of people specialized in writing Tweets and posting material on Facebook. For communica-tions professionals in government, it means re-engineering how things are done, learning to be multi-taskers, able to write a news release, answer a media call, handle a blog and be adept with social media, rather than being consigned to a single sub-specialty. And while technology may change the speed at which information travels and the way it’s disseminated, personal relations still count. One of the unfortunate impacts of televising news conferences is that journal-ists no longer had to attend them in person, so the personal contact that developed between journalists, communications professionals and their bosses was lost. The same appears to be happening when it comes to day-to-day relations with the press. An email response or a Twitter post is not equivalent to a personal phone call, let an encounter for coffee or lunch. Trust is built by knowing people and interchanging informa-tion on a one-to-one basis. It’s a key part of communications that we shouldn’t forget.
  11. 11. 14 issues facin g communication pros : the ne xt fi ve years Not surprisingly, when we asked about the issues they will face over the next five years, participants were quick to highlight the growing importance of social media. However, it was the broader notion of “keeping abreast of change” that surfaced as the key challenge. “Keeping up with the number and nature of the communications tools available.” “Changing channels of communication.” “Rapid change in technology/medium.” “Adapting communications style to digital culture.” “Dealing with the changing journalistic landscape.” What emerged from the discussion was a real sense of pressure. While average Canadians are adopting new and multiple forms of communications and enthusiastically moving from being members of a passive audience to becoming members of a tribe of communications creators, the people who see themselves as communica-tions professionals are very much at the centre of the action and are feeling immense pressure not only to keep up but to (be seen to) lead and to have influence in this new digital environment. One participant noted that one of the most pressing challenges will be dealing with “amateurs,” noting that, today, everyone has the means for mass communication, even if they don’t have the skills, experience or judgment to use them effec-tively or constructively. While everyone in the room agreed there is enormous potential in social media, participants were also quick to point out its challenges. Social media “burnout”, social media “fatigue,” or “engagement fatigue” was an often mentioned issue. The Communications professionals expressed concern that the public too is susceptible to succumbing to the overwhelming amount of information and messages they are exposed to on a 24/7 basis. “[The] Volume of communications [the] public is subject to.” “Rising above the noise.” Other issues mentioned included: • The challenge of being responsible for social media in a risk-averse corporate environment. • The pressures associated with copyright, both protecting their own and ensuring they do not infringe on that of others. • Lack of literacy and numeracy in the workforce. • The need to segment messages by audience and platform.
  12. 12. 15 • The competition between platforms vying for the same audience. • Emerging legal issues as they relate to privacy and personal information. • The changing expectations of and demands upon journalists as they cope with the pressures associated with social media (the rush to publish first and the seemingly never ending demand to create more content). • A generational gap between the young, social media literate and older communications managers and organizational executives. One of the advantages of the Ipsos Ideation methodology is that it easily allows discussions to move from a qualitative to a quantitative perspective. After a discussion of the key issues communicators will face in the next five years, participants were asked to rank a shorter consolidated list on a scale of one to five, where five indicates the most important issue. The table below shows the most pressing issues. While ‘social media’ and ‘changing expectations,’ top the list, it should be noted that ‘keeping up with new technologies,’ dealing with ‘multiple communication platforms’ and ‘adapting communications style to digital culture’ do not fall far behind. Issue Facing Communications Professionals in the Next 5 Years Average Score Social Media 4.3 Changing expectations with new technology and media 4.3 Keeping up with technology demands 4.0 Multiple communication platforms 4.0 Adapting communications style to digital culture 3.9 Changing journalistic / communicator landscape 3.7 Demographic Issues - generation gap between management and younger staff 3.6 Policy and legal Issues 3.4 Social media burnout 2.9 Copyright and privacy issues 2.8
  13. 13. 16 Great Communicators Past and present The broader discussion of the landscape of communications set the stage for a discussion of the role of the communicator. Participants were asked to identify who they thought of (people, companies, and organiza-tions) as great communicators of the past. Not surprisingly for this Ottawa-based event, politicians were very prevalent in the list of great communicators. This list included: • Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper. • Former New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton. • Former UK Prime Ministers Winston Churchill, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher. • US Presidents Roosevelt, Clinton and Obama. • US Politicians Jesse Jackson and John McCain. The notion of political figures as great communicators touched off an interesting discussion regarding effective-ness of communications versus support for political and policy directions. Most participants said that, whether or not they agreed with a politician’s political agenda, they recognized the individuals mentioned above as effective communicators. Some were highlighted for their passion and ability to connect on a personal level, others for their strategic sense and ability to stay on message or to segment and understand their audience. However, the list of great communicators of the past which the participants developed wasn’t limited to politicians. Corporations and brands (Apple, Coke, Maple Leaf Foods) and business leaders (Steve Jobs, Rich-ard Branson) also featured prominently. Media professionals (Anderson Cooper, Peter Gzowsky, Rick Mercer, Peter Mansbridge, Gian Gomeshi, Oprah, and George Strombolopolous) and social media outlets (Twitter, Google and Gawker Media) also made the list. Maple Leaf Foods and the way it handled its listeriosis outbreak were highlighted as an example of good crisis communications. As one participant noted, “the president of Maple Leaf got ahead of the issue and lead the media coverage rather than reacting to it.” Apple and Steve Jobs were highlighted as innovators with some commenting that their brand and the success of their products tended to drive their communications. Others on the list of great communicators of the past included: Albert Einstein, Ghandi, Gordon Lightfoot, God, Sir Ken Robinson, Public Safety Canada, the CIA and the FBI. As the conversation shifted to the great communicators of today, more celebrities (Lady Gaga, Bono, John Stewart, Steven Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Ellen Degeneres) were mentioned. However, many of those men-tioned as great communicators of the past were also on the list of great communicators today including politi-cians, businesses and other media personalities. The list of great communicators also included a few not-for-profit organizations (Heart and Stroke Foundation, Breast Cancer Foundation) and the Arab Spring uprising.
  14. 14. 17 The conversation moved from people who are great communicators to brands as great communicators with participants noting that brands are becoming an increasingly influential aspect of our daily lives. “Brands are making a conscious effort to make consumers interact and communicate with them.” Many participants noted that it is easier to control a brand’s image (consistency, messaging, etc,) than an indi-vidual’s because there is typically a team of professionals guiding a brand. While brands may have person-alities, we don’t judge them or hold them to the same standards as we do people. Would yesterday’s great communicators succeed today? Three quarters of participants said that successful communicators of the past would still succeed today; one quarter did not feel the same. This suggests that there is disagreement as to whether the art of com-munications has truly changed or the skill set remains consistent and we are only witnessing a transforma-tion of the tools available. Are the traditional skills of a great communicator still at the heart of success or is the transformation of the media landscape through social media changing the basic requirements of the great communicator of the future? A great skill of past communicators was that they could think fast on their feet, and did not rely on others when responding to questions or criticism. Most participants felt that this old school approach would actu-ally be a fresh take on current corporate and political communications which are often viewed as highly scripted and disingenuous. Arguably, the need for this skill is on the rise again as communications move away from the highly scripted, towards more rapid-fire social media enabled communications. Some felt that the issue of new technology would be a barrier for past communicators, however, most agreed that a great communicator would be able to adapt to the technology of the day and their inherent skills would shine through. Finally, while not a dominant theme in the discussion, some mentioned that the success of past commu-nicators was that they would often have a single message and single persona that they would broadcast to the masses. In today’s communication world, there is the need to tailor messaging to fit with specific groups of people.
  15. 15. 18 What made communicators great in the past? Despite new channels, new technologies, more messages and more content creators, most participants said that the skills that made communicators great in the past are still relevant today. It was noted that, despite the significant impact of social media on communications professionals today, social media remains but a tool and the ability to communicate, to stay on message, to tell a story, to listen to your audience and respond to their interests and concerns continues to be paramount to successful communications. Whether it was brands or individuals, it was noted that one of the key factors of successful communications is having the ability to control the message across multiple platforms. Clarity (clear simple messages) and honesty (as well as sincerity) are the two attributes that were identified as shared by great communicators of the past and present. In this sense they are clearly the constant and critical attributes when evaluating any communicator or communications. The questions ‘Was it easy to understand?’ and ‘Do you believe it?’ remain the first ones to ask. According to the participants, great communicators of the past also needed to be much more personable – they needed charisma and eloquence; they needed to be courageous and fearless; they needed to be passionate and inspirational; and they needed to be engaging (the adjective) public speakers that could connect to all people for all purposes. Jumping forward, participants see less need for passion or a broadly charismatic approach to be a great communicator today. Rather, the emphasis is on engaging (the verb): knowing the audience, understanding the strategy and tactically segmenting the messages to different audiences using the multiple media plat-forms and channels available to them. One character trait that is more important today than in the past is the need for a sense of humour – think Stewart, Colbert and Mercer- entertaining people while conveying a message. Today’s perspective on what makes communicators great reflects McLuhan’s great insight: the medium is the message. Greatness has moved on from the old days of mass communications (one char-ismatic person with one message speaking to one huge audience) to today’s fractal age of multi-platform media (one person engaging with as many audiences as possible, with as many different messages as there are audiences). To effectively communicate, one must not focus simply on the message itself but on how a very specific audience will consume it. Or, to put it another way, great communicators used to bring people together under a common roof. Today they talk to specific people and give them each a different umbrella to carry with them as they head into the storm.
  16. 16. 19
  17. 17. 20 WHAT DOES THE FUTURE H OLD? Speed is of the essence! The biggest issue, according to participants, in the new digital world is the speed with which they need to work. With information flowing far faster than it used to and with everyone having the ability to “do their grumbling about your brand instantly and publicly” the communications professionals noted that “you need to work hard to get in front of issues or they’ll run away from you.” It was noted that this is a signifi-cant change from the older more traditional news cycle and that, while they were all dealing effectively with this issue now, the need for speed would only grow as more and more people embrace the digital world as their main source of news and information. This obviously has implications both for professionals and organizations. For professionals, it means longer hours, constant monitoring and the notion of con-tinuous crisis communications. For organizations, it means building a structure that allows for rapid com-munications – any rigid organization with numerous approval processes for communications is bound to be slower to respond. Need to be clear and concise While most communicators might argue that being clear and concise in your communications has always been a cornerstone of good communications practices, the changes occurring today (faster turnaround, more digital voices, more channels, etc.) arguably make this tenet even more important today. Understanding and dealing with niche audience With multiple channels, innumerable sources of information and people moving from mass platforms to niche communications streams, participants felt that there is a “need for more detailed, audience-specific messaging.” Where communicators of the past had the luxury of crafting single messages aimed at the majority - or at least a plurality of the public - today’s communications professionals must understand and deliver to multiple audiences each of which has its own interests, level of understanding and the ability to respond instantly. Monitoring and measuring Monitoring is projected to be a more difficult and yet more important task for the communicator of tomorrow. For some this means scanning the (ever broadening) environment frequently to keep tabs on emerging issues, for others it means gaining a deeper understanding of the (ever more niche) audiences they are trying to reach. Measurement is a related challenge. In the words of one of the participants, “potential influences are everywhere” and therefore the challenge of understanding the impact of specific communications activities is amplified. In a world where communicators are required to understand and communicate with numerous audiences, participants noted that there is a need for “greater investment in meaningful measurement.”
  18. 18. 21 Participants were quick to note that in today’s digital world “existing relationships are more important than ever” and “you need to build a reputation first.” In short, you must be seen as a trusted source before you even begin to communicate. Being different Standing out in the crowd, being innovative, creative and engaging is now a must. While developing communi-cations that get attention has always been a challenge and a prerequisite for success, it is even more important in today’s fast moving and crowded playing field.
  19. 19. 22 News toda y, How Has it c han ged ? News today ….. “… can be found in 40 characters. Consumers look at headlines…” “… is anything that has an audience. Ranges from viral videos taken on the iPhone to traditional news writing.” “ is immediate.” “… is no longer [just] the important global, national issues of interest to the masses.” ”… is a lot of crap, including celebrity funerals.” “… is now about shock value and ratings … centred on what will draw in an audience rather than the inherent value of the content.” “ … is anything that is of interest to a particular group … can now decide for themselves what their trusted news sources are.” Technology and choice are changing the shape of news Session participants said that the biggest change in news today is that people have many news choices. In the past the news menu was considerably shorter. Decisions were limited: Print vs. broadcast? Which 6PM news anchor do I want to watch? As well the volume of news was limited (by time on TV/radio and by space in print). The situation today is very different. We can choose multiple delivery channels, we can narrow the selection of subjects or select only the authors we want and we can do this instantly and on an ongoing basis. As people select subjects, and artificial intelligence builds personal profiles based on our likes and dislikes, there is the potential for people to get much more information but with a much narrower scope. “People can personalize their news to what they are interested in … objectivity is gone from viewership and, thus, people are living in their own bubbles.” “People, if they’re interested, will then go to a niche source to find more info but that info will not be informative, rather it will be confirmatory.” “Content availability influences what makes the cut, a video can turn non-news into news.”
  20. 20. 23 Other themes that emerged in the ‘What is news discussion?’ included: The rise of citizen journalists The rise of citizen journalists is creating new content and redefining what is news. More and more bloggers (who are not necessarily or even usually trained journalists) are self-publishing their versions of news and their opinions on the issues of the day. Participants referred to this as the ‘democratization’ of journalism or the rise of ‘citizen journalism.’ No matter the label, it was felt that this trend is having a profound impact on news organizations. “Gatekeepers no longer have a stranglehold on information.” “People on the street can be just as credible as news outlet information, if not more.” “News organizations are no longer competing with each other …. They’re competing for attention with all forms of digital content.” Rise of ‘infotainment’ As the focus has moved from what is important to what sells/gets ratings (control by bean counters rather than newsroom editors?), we have seen the rise of ‘infotainment’ and ‘edutainment.’ News now needs to be more entertaining. “News today is much more based on the entertainment industry and centred on issues less im-portant to society as a whole. Content is suffering and you can see this when ‘big news’ is con-sidered anything to do with celebrities.” “There’s far more junk food than broccoli on our news plates now. There are also fewer checks and balances and little adherence to the old journalistic standard of ‘objectivity.’” “News is now about shock value and ratings … more attention is centred on what will draw in an audience than the inherent value of the content.”
  21. 21. 24 Speed and brevity are driving news and content As with all other communications the news is being impacted by the rush to be the first to break a story and the need to produce shorter stories for public consumption. “The cycle moves too fast for sustained interest.” “News is immediate, has a quick turnaround from when it happens to when it goes ‘live’. “Blogs, twitter and other social media forums will raise the issue, news sites will elaborate on the issue.” A more competitive environment Journalists are being driven to reach a wider audience in a more competitive environment. However, the focus seems to be moving from being a journalist (there is less simple news coverage today from journalists as everyone is now in this game) to being a columnist or editor: it is about having an opinion/taking a stand on the news. To some degree, this is an attempt to add value; however, the more cynical would say it is as a result of the faster news cycle and journalists no longer having time to research expert sources. “Stories are about interests and what will appeal to the masses.” “Opinion (sometimes inflammatory) is becoming a more significant value proposition of media organizations.” Reputation and credibility matter All of the above means journalists and traditional news sites need to focus on their reputation as a means of countering competition and maintaining an audience. “Reputable news sites will always be more credible.”
  22. 22. 25
  23. 23. 26 SPEED V S. ACCURACY V S. CONTENT We have always been in a world where the first person to break the story wins the race. The difference today is that anyone with a smartphone can break the story. Problems begin to arise however when the content does not include the context and/or when early promoters of a story lend credibility before they fully un-derstand all of the facts. With this in mind, participants discussed the impact of social media and new and emerging digital communications and the rise of the citizen communicator and a key question “Is content suf-fering due to the rush to publish?” The answer (while not unanimous) was a resounding “yes content has suffered”. “Speed seems to trump everything else. Getting it first matters more than getting it right.” Most participants not only concurred that the rush to be first often means skipping steps that range from checking for accuracy to ensuring proper spelling and grammar but they also felt that the speed of com-munications has also led to “only a surface knowledge of a lot of issues” as shorter attention spans have resulted in fewer complex, long-running stories or issues. As one participant put it “It’s hard to keep inter-est in an issue, which means coverage of important topics often dies a quick death.” However, participants also saw some light at the end of the communications tunnel, noting that while “speed trumps accuracy and content …. inaccuracies will usually be brought to the fore and there is always an opportunity to lead people to accurate content.” Others noted that today’s audiences “need to be diligent at filtering what comes at us as information” whereas, in the past filtering and ensuring accuracy were the domain of the professional gatekeepers jour-nalists or professional communicators. As noted previously the speed to communicate combined with the sheer volume of messages and the notion that not all are accurate or fact-based makes the reputation of the source even more important. This would seem to give the edge to traditional media outlets that have entered the social media sphere. “People have high expectations to have a label they trust before they hear the content.” “The source always drives the credibility of content.” “There are still traditional media sources who will do their due-diligence and offer a researched opinion. Maybe not as quick as you would find it on Twitter, but at least when it comes up a half hour later, you can have a higher degree of trust in the facts.” The final line of thought that came out of this discussion was that while accuracy may have suffered in the short term, content has not with more people producing content than ever before “multiple news sources, be they mainstream media, social media or user generated content, allow for more voices many of which were previously unheard.” Also on the pro-content side of the argument was the notion that new mediums have allowed “content to be what it needs to be. We no longer need to force visuals into text and vice-versa.”
  24. 24. 27 “Some people may filter the content they look at based on their interests and tastes but there are also more op-portunities for people to share news and hear various viewpoints.” “Content hasn’t suffered, it’s now being more scrutinized than ever before forcing the communicator to be able to support their thoughts/ideas.” “Content is king. Good content drives traffic.”
  25. 25. 28 Is more information a good t hin g? Without a doubt there is more information being created and distributed than ever before. It is not sur-prising that a room full of communicators would largely agree that more information in the world as well as more sources of information is for the most part a good thing. Yes more information is a good thing … “It’s amazing how globally significant political events have been shaped by the digital tools available.” “Information enriches the world in which we live.” “More information is a good thing. But it requires more work from audiences to sift through the chaff and get to the good stuff.” “Information is the fuel for free societies. A more globalized infrastructure of communications can only further the movement towards greater transparency.” “More voices are better - it allows people to get multiple and varying opinions, deliberate and decide on their opinions for themselves.” “It is always a good thing to have more information.” While very few said more information was a bad thing (see comments below) many of the participants qualified their support for more information by noting that there are also potential downsides to “instant information” and “information overload.” Maybe more information is a good thing … “More information is good as long as the source is reliable.” “On the one hand you have various opinions on a topic, instead of the old standard newspaper conglomerates. But on the other hand, more information out at quicker timelines lead to more mistakes and misrepresentation of facts.” “The problem with instant transmission of information by everybody and anybody is that there’s a danger of more bad information getting wide distribution. And once misinformation is out there, it’s hard to kill.” “More info can just be more noise. Quality of information is important.” “People will seek out the information that aligns with their existing frames.” “We also need to be more media literate to understand biases, points of view, objectives etc. Since the information marketplace is so open, we need to be able to analyze the source as well as the information we receive.”
  26. 26. 29 There were very few participants who said more information sources is not necessarily a good thing. few participants who said more information in the world is not necessarily a good thing. More information is not a good thing … “Not if the ownership is concentrated in the hands of the few. We are at the early days of ‘new media’. Prediction: most popular sites will soon be acquired by a handful of owners.” “More information does not mean more diversity in perspective. Without diversity, what we end up with is a larger echo chamber.” “Information without context is useless in aiding understanding.” “More concise information is preferred. The message often gets lost when too much information is thrown at people, especially by way of social media.”
  27. 27. 30 WHAT WILL THE COMMUNICATION TOOLS OF TOMORROW LOOK LIKE? The participants were asked to consider what the communication tools and media of tomorrow might look like. This generated a flurry of comments some of which focused on the likely direction of technology and media platforms in the future – the full emergence of cloud computing and mobile everything, for example – but most of which concerned the likely (or hoped for) attributes of communications tools and media of the future. Many focused on the idea of an ever increasing level of tailoring to the individual – customiz-able, personal and segmented. There was much discussion around the idea of tailored media which has already been seen on Facebook and Google in terms of ads that reflect your browsing history. Future tools will make use of the existing technology, perhaps culminating in truly individualistic advertising as seen in the movie Minority Report. In an interesting contrast, while the tools and media are expected to be highly specific to the individual, many participants described them as being collaborative, allowing for different contributors to work seam-lessly together, connected across platforms. In comments that evoked the big, red easy button of the Staples ads, several participants underlined that tools will make things easy or be easy to use. A few participants indicated that user-generated content and crowd sourcing will grow in importance. Of course, the communications tools of the future are impossible to predict, but judging from the popular-ity of short, concise messaging brought on by Twitter and other social media (which participants expected to see continue to grow), we can anticipate that communication from corporations to consumers will need to shorten in length, and broaden in scope. “We’re already seeing the idea that advertising can be tailored based on various aspects. What you look at, what your friends look at.”
  28. 28. 32 CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS When asked to consider the key opportunities and challenges for communications and communicators that arise from Canada’s changing demographics, participants were much more focused on the challenges than on the opportunities. Key among these was the need for communications to reach and connect with increas-ingly fragmented audiences (multilingual, multigenerational), in an environment where the bar is set higher: getting noticed above the noise, putting out the tailored and personal message via the right channel for the message and audience, and meeting an expectation for increased engagement and interactivity. Failing to deliver against these expectations is considered a risk. And all this coupled with the need to deliver faster! Another challenge highlighted by a few participants that is less specific to Canada’s changing demographics is the notion that with ever more and ever richer data being collected and concentrated in the hands of a few, data protection is a high priority. Others chose to highlight the opportunities presented by some of the above factors. For example, richer data and business intelligence, allowing for much more precise audience knowledge, segmentation and reach. Several participants highlighted that in the future communications would be more informal, user friendly and active – although this was also a challenge, given that younger generations would have the expectation for less formal and more interactive communications, whereas older audiences -- and older communicators -- have different expectations. Participants in the discussion highlighted a clear divide between those in senior positions in the workforce and the new crop of employees. The younger generation has an expectation that all companies have a social media strategy including corporate blogging and Twitter engagement coupled with a sense of flexibility when it comes to telecommuting and using social media devices at work. They explained that “In many cases, the older generation does not see any value or place any importance on these newer technologies and therefore does not get involved enough to understand it.” This leads to a resistance to invest in social media both as an outward communications tool or as an internal communications tool that might help bridge the generational gap between older and younger employees. It will be increasingly important for companies to draw on the inherent technology skills of the younger gen-eration to develop their own social media strategy. Companies can easily broaden their reach and interact with multiple generations both within their audience and within the ranks of their company. “Younger generations’ expectation is that we’re blogging and that we’re on Twitter. There is an expectation of the younger crowd that companies are doing all this.” “The older generation looks at the younger generation and see a sense of entitlement and a poor work effort. They don’t see SM or tech as an internal solution to bridge the divide.”
  29. 29. 33 HOW PREPARED ARE Y OU FOR THE FUTURE? The communicators around the table felt only somewhat confident in their level of preparation. On the one hand they had already dealt with the changes throughout the past decade. Moving forward they will know to keep an open mind and investigate and research emerging ideas and technologies. Before the recent advancements, communicators were not on the lookout for the next engagement medium, but now these forms of development are on everyone’s radar. On the other hand, the process of change at the corporate or organizational level is slow. Some communica-tors may be personally prepared to deal with new developments, but their organizations may not be prepared to or understand the need to invest in something new and (in some cases) unproven. Steps To Prepare For The Future “The reality is that we really have no clue what’s coming and no idea how the public will use it. All I can do is follow the industry leaders and emulate what they’re doing.” The above comment aside, most participants indicated that they were taking a more active role in preparing for the future. Their plans include formal and informal learning opportunities, and learning from either a mentor or their network. Much of this activity will focus in the area of social media (e.g. learning to blog). The most common approaches included: • Following industry leaders that are engaged in social media and/or using social media to follow industry leaders. • Researching, analyzing and evaluating emerging tools and technologies. • Keeping an open mind and analyzing others that are having success. Finally several noted that having the right attitude (“be patient”, “be flexible”, “look forward to challenges and changes”) was the best approach and one person (in a nod to one of the day’s sponsor’s) said “Keeping my IABC membership to stay on top of the changes.”
  30. 30. 34 Evaluatin g your success Will Likes and Tweets be the currency of the future communicator? With the changing landscape of the business communications world, effectively evaluating success becomes an important aspect. For many, the question becomes one of Quality of an engagement and not the Quan-tity in which it is done. Currently we can track the number of Tweets that go out from a company, and the number of ‘re-tweets’ and replies that are received, but there is no way of knowing what that means in terms of actual impact. For future communicators, going beyond the numbers and seeing the true impact of reaching your target audience, having a relationship with them, and measuring the outcomes of that interaction will be the benchmark for a successful communication. Measuring Outcomes: Three Main Questions • What was the intended change? • To what degree did it occur? • Is the relationship retained? In the discussion it was clear that evaluating success will continue to be about establishing intelligent metrics and objectives which are specific and can be tracked and measured and then following through and conducting the evaluation. Many highlighted the importance of being able to make their case with numbers.
  31. 31. 36 Appendix 1 – Ideation Session Methodology The Ipsos Ideation Exchange bridges knowledge, ideas, people, and settings to create an environment for open, participative and aligned collaboration. Used to facilitate brainstorming, integrated thinking, cross functional collaboration, strategic planning and assessment, the Ideation Exchange leverages technology and software to create a high-energy, interactive and efficient alternative to more traditional qualitative approaches. What is especially powerful in an Ideation Exchange session is that all participants are active at the same time. The real-time electronic format allows for simultaneous input and the ability to actually see the input of the entire group as it appears. The sessions are highly energizing for the participants and also creates a high-level focus on the outcomes. As the participants begin to develop or assess key ideas, strategies, mes-sages or concepts, they become very connected to the result, which increases their overall buy-in to the process. In short, the tool offers a unique way to get: • Anonymous, highly collaborative feedback. • Rapid planning, ideation and prioritization. • Wisdom of crowds. • High participation rates. • Polling, charting and tabulation of responses in real time. • Quickly catalogued responses. • Convenience – access anywhere, for broad geographic participation. • Quickly generated transcripts and actionable next steps. Ideation Exchange links a group together — large or small —so that each participant or group of partici-pants can simultaneously contribute thoughts and ideas through a computer in addition to voicing their opinions verbally throughout the course of an ideation or planning session. The facilitator gives instructions and participants provide ideas directly into the system through their computers. Each participant (or group of participants) has a laptop computer connected to a local area network to contribute ideas, votes and feedback. The laptops help facilitate collaboration but do not replace the need for face-to-face interaction and teamwork exercises in a session. The Ideation Exchange gets the team there faster and with full participation and contribution by each individual, irrespective of title, seniority or personality type. Session facilitators provide expertise in drawing the best thinking from each session, coding and categorizing common themes and pushing each participant as well as the entire group for the highest level of output. For this specific session, each participant had a laptop and with everyone able to input their ideas and opinions individually, a wealth of data was instantaneously generated and displayed via projector for the group to deliberate and discuss collaboratively.