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2018: What will it hold?



1.       Industry growth – will it stall?

The industry has enjoyed if not stellar, then robust, growth over the past few years.  Next year, with Brexit looming ever larger, could prove to be particularly tricky.  Expect those with entrepreneurial zeal to succeed – seeing positive opportunities in the turmoil will be a valuable talent.


2.       The fall of the sexes

This summer saw the ASA published an in-depth report on gender stereotyping.  They plan much stronger guidelines to end the stereotyping of gender roles and characteristics.  As consumer story tellers adapt to these so our world view starts changing too.  One more important step on the way to real diversity.


3.       Hypo-cracy

We are reaching almost breath-taking levels of ‘say one thing, do another’. Bemoaning plastics in the sea whilst reaching for the next grab bottle of water; coo-ing over the latest [low cost] clothes whilst rallying against stories of impoverished workers; bemoaning corporates not paying taxes will checking our social and clicking the buy button. There is a rise of enterprises with ethical and moral values to match – will consumers take more from niche to mainstream in 2018?


4.       Can the internet turn again to be a force for good?

The internet has always had a dark underbelly.  But its ability to cite hatred, propagate and embed more dubious views has risen dramatically.  The success of, for example, #metoo moving the scandal from an individual to an industry shows that used wisely the power of the internet can be a catalyst for real positive change. Expect to see more positive international community actions.


5.       The death of fake news?

News manipulation has also reached record levels in 2017.  The alleged mass organised involvement of stealth bots and algorithms in a country’s national political agenda is a cause for concern.  Alongside people ready to retweet and share things that align with their views without assessing the source, it is a toxic mix.  Social media providers taking responsibility, albeit belatedly for safeguarding more content is a welcome move too.


However, with Trump and others giving a masterclass in news agenda manipulation on the highest stage, consumers will get smarter.  Trust in major news organisations (who must abide by much stronger codes of ethics) is steady whilst those of social media is already falling. 


6.       Is a PR stunt fake news?

Expect more ethical PR agencies to be pondering the sometimes fine line between the two.


7.       PR as a profession

The PRCA standing up to Bell Pottinger was a seminal moment for the industry.  The moment it stopped talking and starting walking on the national stage.  Be the change you want to see.  More please.


8.       What’s an influencer?

2017 has certainly been the year of the influencer.  Witness the rise of dedicated teams and apps focused on the new breed of bloggers and vloggers with social influence.  Yet influence is not just the domain of the new and the current focus is exaggerated.  Expect to stop seeing media being sectioned off as a special pool.  Expect the industry to get much more savvy at identifying real influence across the spectrum and developing campaigns to match.


9.       Business leadership becomes social

B2B has now cracked building leaders into social influencers, moving beyond the leader as an industry personality [star] to one that wealds real in-industry influence. Expect 2018 to be the year this early trend becomes mainstream.


10.   Datanation

Forward-thinking agencies have been putting time and investment into their processes to be able to show true ROI. Expect/demand to see campaigns that are measured on indicators that truly impact on a client’s bottom line.  Consequently, ambitious people ever increasingly need to be data analytics-savvy. Both insights and measurement will be the starting points, not the afterthoughts.


11.   GDPR

2017 was the year of talk, 2018 will be the year of action. There will be more transparency as the new rules are implemented, this will impact how we communicate to directly with clients’ consumer audiences.


12.   Content

More commercial businesses will be making more use of the great behaviour change work done by Government in recent years.  Providing the insight needed to isolate the change that nudges the bigger effect.  Combined with Facebook, Google et al opening up new data and the insights our own tools can provide, the content we produce will change, as we have more insight into what customers want at each point in their journey.