Hindsight is 2020: Reflecting on the decade past with PRedictions for the one ahead: Part 1

Part 1: The PRofessional one

Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. It’s easy to forget to pause and reflect on where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. Can you believe it’s been 10 years since Vancouver hosted the winter Olympics? Or since Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” topped the charts? Can you recall a time the words “emoji”, “Uber” and “selfie” weren’t part of your daily conversations?

With just a few days left before we turn the page on the calendar to a new decade, our team decided to reminisce a bit about the world in general, and more specifically, the world of PR, over these last 10 years. Interspersed with some ridiculous, Slack-based banter (which you can read more about in our not-as-professional Hindsight blog), we also compiled some thoughtful PRedictions for where our industry might be headed in 2030.

On the blurring categories of PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned)

According to one colleague: “In 2010, many clients were still reaching out with “We just need a press release, please.” Today, we deploy 360o PR: the press release is still needed for some cases, but also social posts, paid social, influencer marketing, images, video, internal comms, client comms, etc. in order to serve news on demand.

Looking ahead, technology and our expanding online presence will add even more tools to the communicator’s toolbox. Clients will be looking for trusted partners who understand all the things you CAN do, but are smart and sophisticated enough to recommend what you SHOULD do.

On social purpose

Before Millennials became such a large and powerful cohort, brands viewed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a nice to have. As these savvy, well-informed and globally-responsible Millennials take charge, they have ushered in the rise of brand activism. If brands want to connect and keep relevant, purpose matters! The next decade will see a further rise in brands (both B2C and B2B) taking a stand on issues that are important to them and their stakeholders.

On measurement

Those of us who cut our teeth in this business before the 2010s can relate to this: “I remember measuring print newspapers (in Colombia) and having to look at the media kits to find out what was the value of earned media.” Now we have data. So. Much. Data. While we, as an industry, are getting better at measuring how earned media contributes to the sales cycle, improvements in this area will help us continue to quantify the impact of earned media, and a positive or negative reputation on a company’s bottom line.

On wellness at work

Over the last decade, it finally became NOT okay to dismiss stress in the workplace as “just the way it is in agency.”

From one of our senior executives: “In 2010, mental health at work still wasn’t talked about much. Burnout was all around me, with people taking leaves of absence that we didn’t talk about, staff getting sick, crying in the office, and admitting it still felt like a sign of weakness.”

Today, thankfully, there’s a much bigger focus on wellness at work. At KLC, we take mental health very seriously and make sure people can speak openly and honestly with their coworkers and managers and know how to access resources if they need them.

“Looking forward, I predict much more integration of health and wellness in the workplace – both from a physical and emotional perspective. PR will always be a stressful career, but there are ways to make it less so, including prioritizing mental wellness and creating an open and supportive environment.”

On where we get our news

The 2010s have certainly changed in terms of how, globally, people access information. Yes, we had social media in 2010, but the last decade has introduced an abundance of sources by which we digest information. We’ve seen the erosion of print media and closing of news outlets, amidst the rise of online news, citizen journalism and brand journalism, not to mention influencers, social feeds, AI assistants, video and podcasts.

“I’m surprised by how powerful and expensive social media and influencer programs have become. We have also seen the rise of ambassador programs, especially in B2B.”

As for what the future holds, the team was divided. Many see this trend continuing, but there’s another school of thought that sees a possibility the pendulum will swing the other way; to more authentic and organic, peer “influencers” and a refocus on more trusted news sources (more on that next). As mentioned previously, the key will be to finding the right channel to reach your audiences.

On the good news for the decade ahead

The final word goes to another of our senior executives, who is optimistic about the future of news: “I believe we will solve the fake news problem in the next decade. I see a move back towards a Walter Cronkite-era of truth and trust in journalism. Technology will be used for good – to report facts and prevent the spread of mistruths. We can also give credit to investigative journalism for their efforts to hold businesses and individuals accountable.”

That’s a wrap for 2019. We’re optimistic and excited by the promise of the future and what our amazing team will do in our second decade in business.

If you’re interested in checking out last year’s PRediction blog, to see how we did at predicting 2019, you can find it here. If you’re interested in talking more about the changing world of PR and Communications, and how your business might keep pace, you can reach us here.

And if you’re curious to know more about the silly side of KLC, stay tuned. We’ve picked up Slack chat pieces from the cutting room floor and taped them all together to create our not-as-professional Hindsight 2020 blog