If you are a child of the 80s, you may vaguely recall a tune called Video killed the radio star, by the one-hit-wonder band The Buggles. Perhaps you watched MTVs debut Aug. 1, 1981, when it launched into the airwaves with this song. The song is about a star from the golden age of radio whose singing career ends with the advent of television.
Much has happened in the 30-plus years since that groundbreaking day in all forms of modern communication and media, not just broadcast. A key driver of change, of course, is something referred to as media convergence. People want access to information and entertainment 24/7 via whatever means are most convenient to them at the moment. Media have responded by fusing various delivery mechanisms including television, Internet, smartphone technology, radio and print. Its a brave new world and exciting.
So, what will it take to remain relevant and successful in communication in 2013?
1. Storytelling. Excellent storytelling skills have always been fundamental to the success of any communication campaign. This will not change. A great story puts information within a relatable context that is easy for the consumer to embrace and understand. Well-told stories and not exclusively those generated by trained journalists take messages viral in todays world of communication.
2. Visual communication. From July 2011 to July 2012, Pinterests weekly visits exploded from 1.27 million to 29 million. Instagram also experienced exponential growth, going from 56,360 visits per week last year to more than 12 million per week in July. Statistics like this should cause every communicator to take note. Visual communication was truly the king in 2012, and I believe it will continue its reign in 2013. Communicators who cant tell their story visually will fail.
3. Social media. Just a few years ago, a good friend of mine struggled to persuade her employer to become an early adopter of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. She could see the storm coming, but the employer hoped it was a passing trend. It was not. Today, no one doubts social media play a critical role in communicating a message. The key is identifying the platforms existing and emerging with the greatest relevance to your core audience and finding ways to engage.
Consumers are less passive today than at any other time in history when it comes to gathering information. They share information at lightning speed. They tell personal stories and experiences with pictures on their social-media platform of choice. They are becoming journalists in their own right by reporting breaking news (with cellphone photos) on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other platforms sometimes before news agencies can pen their first word.
On the flip side of that, communication practitioners have more tools than ever before at their disposal. Their greatest challenge, of course, is to keep pace with rapid changes. The future of professional communication rides on the adaptability of practitioners who know how to tell a great story, are excellent social listeners, are adept at identifying where their audience hangs out and have a careful eye on emerging trends and technology.
Jeanette Duwe, owner of Duwe Public Relations and a former journalist. email@example.com