Ten changes in ten years

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of CASACOM, it’s timely to reflect on all the changes that have occurred in our industry. Sometimes we’ve been witness to them, and sometimes we’ve been the actors. Here are 10 changes that have occurred in our industry over the course of the last decade.

1. Ascension. Communications has always been important to the success of businesses, but over the past years, it has become an essential capability for leaders. In addition to designating experts to be responsible for communications, senior executives should excel in this area as well, to achieve their business goals. It’s certainly one of the most useful skills for ascending the ranks of a business.

2. Recognition. We’ve taken enormous steps towards recognizing the value of communications. While ROI (return on investment) has always been a fashionable concept, more and more managers are recognizing that effective communications can mean success or failure for a project. The more managers understand the value of communications, the more can support it.

3. Integration. It’s impossible to think only about public relations as an distinct role. How can anyone today limit oneself to just one discipline? When a client presents us with a problem, we should consider all possible means of communication, as part of the solution, whether they fall into the traditional definition of PR or not.

4. Collaboration. Within the context of integration, we now collaborate closely with experts in other disciplines. The advertising-PR-social media ménage à trois is now essential to the success of our work.

5. Multiplication… of media. The number of television networks, web shows, webzines, blogs, radio networks, journals and magazines has exploded. The end of traditional media was predicted; however, it’s still there, alive and well and, for the most part, relevant. Traditional media should, however, coexist with the new, often ingenious, content developers. Traditional journalism must adapt to this new reality.

6. Proliferation… of target markets. These days, the entire world has the potential to influence or prorogate news. Everyone can be a writer, blogger, commentator, or spokesperson. The role of public relations is therefore to understand how influence works among multiple audiences, and how to best integrate consumers, clients, employees, bloggers and experts. As a result, strategies, messages and tactics are multiplied.

7. Conversation. Goodbye to the ‘push-out’ press releases and speeches that we wrote at the beginning of our careers! Gone are the days when we believed that a skilled pen was enough to ensure that our messages were well received by our audiences. Today, to truly engage with our stakeholders, we must demonstrate relevance, we must understand the dynamics of dialogue, and we must inspire. Transparency and authenticity are our best tools for meaningful conversation.

8. Editing. Editors are no longer the others: they are us! Businesses must become producers of social media content if they want to communicate with and engage their publics. Establishing editorial calendars, acting as the editor in chief, producing content, juggling deadlines: here are our new realities to us.

9. Miniaturization. Where once we were used to long narratives, we must now reduce content or fit it into 140-word messages, brief videos or audio that can be adapted to different media, notably mobile devices, and strive for clarity. Writing has certainly had its part in the revolution… and I’m not even touching on the different writing styles preferred, for example, to maximize SEO. (yet another change).

10. Acceleration. When CBC NewsWorld was created in the 90s, we saw a shift to immediacy. We hadn’t seen anything yet. Add social media, and the amount of information becomes dizzying. This accelerated news cycle means that communicators must equip themselves with systems of continuous, real-time monitoring 24×7… and be in excellent shape!

What a decade! I wonder if the next will be as exciting. What do you think?

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