The demand for a better world is going to drive some of the major trends in the PR and media for 2020. Employees, customers and other stakeholders expect business leaders to become champions of positive change, so the first trend I definitely see gathering momentum is
CEO’s will be expected to take positions and stands on things that the community their company operates in cares about. Staying below the radar on topics that society cares about will become difficult if not impossible for CEO’s, they will have to skilfully navigate this new expectation from their stakeholders. How to take a stand on a topic and not get the company you represent into a spot of bother will be something that communicators will need to help the C suite navigate.
I believe will be the second trend to watch out for. The aggressive pace of change in the workplace and the dynamic policy environment will test the capacity of leaders and communicators to find new ways to hold a band of people to a ‘true north’. If everything is in constant change, what does one hold on to as the anchor around which a culture is built? This will possibly come from building a spirit of resilience into teams and individuals. Where each one knows they belong to a tribe and what their purpose is. Once teams and people are aligned in this way, they are better equipped to navigate change and contribute and enjoy the process. All of this together is what I refer to as culture communication. It will be a mix of employee engagement, honest and transparent communication to all stakeholders and providing of support structures that people need to accept and navigate change.
Policy advocacy will also see its stock price continue to rise. The contours will change. State level engagement as opposed to just focusing on the centre will gain momentum. Access to decision makers and regulators will continue to be important but in the end it will boil down to a Substance and Slogan tango. The Substance will be discussed behind closed doors and in corridors of power. The Slogans will need to win on the street. Only then will policy advocacy have a chance to succeed, as the people on the street need to be in alignment with the substantive changes that are being thrust upon them.
So PR professionals and media should reorient themselves to help the C suite navigate these three trends. CEO Activism, Culture Communication and Public Advocacy.