In the public relations and public affairs worlds, we at Goff Public have a professional duty to our clients to stay on the cutting edge of communications, political and societal trends, and to provide sound advice based on our assessment of the present and the future. So we decided to go out on a limb (or not) in making predictions – some serious, some tongue-in-cheek, some even contradictory about our rapidly changing industry in 2015. A year from now, we’ll see how right (or wrong) we were.
1.) The credibility of national media outlets (as measured in public surveys) will decline sharply; congressional leaders, jealous of their bottom-of-the-barrel standing, threaten to hold investigative hearings.
2.) Social media use, prestige, and share prices will change as follows: LinkedIn (up), Twitter (down), and Facebook (way down).
3.) New behavioral and public health research about online usage will lead to a big growth in the adoption of digital switched off lifestyles; board games and physical books start to become cool again.
4.) Because of the 2015 revelations exposed by North Korean hackers, Google will supplant a major bank in the 2016 Nielsen/Harris Interactive survey as one of the 10 most hated companies in America.
I predicted last year that we would still be a two-newspaper town at the end of 2014, and I’m going to make that prediction again for 2015. The traditional media will still be trying to stay relevant online and with social media. The outlets that succeed will have strong, interesting and unique content. I think (hope) a new form of social media will emerge that will make Facebook seem passé by this time next year. I also predict a social movement that prioritizes distraction and electronics-free time, enabling people to be more grounded, thoughtful and strategic.
Communications professionals will need to work harder than ever to cut through the clutter. (Cue the Mission Impossible theme). Our job, if we choose to accept it (and we do!) is to tell a story, make it meaningful, and inspire action. Mission accomplished.
Organizations around the world, especially professional sports teams, will devote more time and resources to developing and implementing social media policies for players, employees and other stakeholders.
Despite divisive politics that dominated the 2014 elections, there will be a growing sense of populism across the state. While this will wreak havoc within both the state Republican and DFL parties, it will make for fascinating political debate and actually push the Legislature and Governor to come to a timely end-of-session deal.
Prognostication is a risky business, but I predict the light rail will make Saint Paul increasingly popular for both businesses and people seeking entertainment; the Twins will have a banner year; and Minnesota will see another high-profile athlete or celebrity taken down because of personal behavioral issues.
In Minnesota, we’ll see unique moments of bipartisanship (and less appetite for high-profile partisan battles) this session as the new Republican majority in the House defines their niche and prepares to defend their majority in 2016. Nationally, a scandal will break that shakes up the 2016 Presidential field. Hillary Clinton will still emerge as the Democratic frontrunner, but Republicans will coalesce around a fresh, new candidate hoping to define Hillary as an out-of-touch political insider.
Mobile web usage will exceed desktop web usage in 2015. Subsequently, the demand for hand surgeons, arthritis specialists, and chiropractors will double over the next decade.
With no major top-of-the-ticket candidates for state office in 2016 and an improving economy, Minnesota’s political climate will become calmer over the next two years. Civility, compromise, and effective governance will replace much of the hyperbolic rhetoric we’ve seen in recent years.
The grassroots efforts from Native American tribes, communities and leaders will result in the Washington football team finally removing its current mascot name.
Rather than focusing on one PR tactic, like media relations or social media, more and more companies will develop integrated communications plans to more fully reach their key audiences.
With the recent Facebook privacy invasions including the research study conducted without participants consent and Facebook’s smartphone app feature that records conversations to name a few, I predict that more people (like me) will become increasingly skeptical about the role social media plays in their life. A record number of people will disengage from Facebook and other social media platforms, and those who remain active will demand more privacy standards.
Viral videos will continue to evolve and become more prevalent in two important ways: 1) Companies will try to create them to build buzz and brand loyalty (see: Arby’s and Pepsi kerfuffle); and 2) organizations and public figures will try to latch onto viral movements to build support. (Remember the Harlem Shake? The Ice Bucket Challenge?) Beyond 2015, as these videos become less grassroots-created and more manufactured, they will lose popularity but as long as they make people laugh, they will still exist.