As the nights draw in and Christmas approaches, thoughts of 2019 planning are well underway but instead of looking to the future, we’re going to take a look back over the past year and highlight some of the key trends and events that have taken place in world of communications to give us some inspiration for the year ahead.
A lesson in ethics
Although it began in 2017, the fall of Bell Pottinger shocked the communications industry. The ill-advised campaign that led to a host of troubles in South Africa highlighted the need for proper ethical standards in the comms industry. In response to the Bell Pottinger downfall, the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) launched the #PowerofEthics campaign this year to encourage comms professionals to promote ethics in PR.
GDPR, the acronym you cannot escape. The General Data Protection Regulation can into force in May of this year and certainly shook up the industry. Despite knowing about the upcoming deadline for two years, businesses were still unprepared for the legislation. GDPR touched every industry and marcomms was no different. To prepare for the changes, we held a session on GDPR and what it meant for marketing data, to ensure industry experts were up to speed and in the know.
The rise (and fall) of the YouTube star
Celebrity YouTuber, Logan Paul, sparked outrage this year after posting a disrespectful video. After the event, the discussion around social media influencers and the monetisation of videos rippled through the industry. Social media influencers are growing and becoming more popular, perhaps in 2019 we’ll start to see some regulations surrounding them and their content?
The pace of growth
The industry is changing at a rapid pace, and the growth of digital channels has profoundly changed the way we work. New technologies, tighter budgets and politics are all major drivers of change and the changing media landscape is just another hurdle that marcomms professionals have to deal with. In 2018, PR professionals said they need new expertise in social media, data and analytics and multi-media content development to ensure they stay relevant in the ever-evolving world of work. It looks like we’ll all need to be comms chameleons.
A big tech crisis
For much of this year, Facebook and its owner Mark Zuckerberg, were in crisis mode. The revelations that Cambridge Analytica gathered the personal data of millions of Facebook users sent the company into a mass PR crisis. Facebook’s reputation was on the line and they suffered some serious damage. However, there was some light at the end of the tunnel, for us at least. Although this was of course, an incredibly serious case, we did enjoy the hilarious memes that were created off the back of the hearing.
The Christmas countdown
And of course, to wrap up how can I forget to mention this year’s Christmas adverts? Here at Firefly, we love an emotional advert and Iceland’s ‘Rang-Tang’ certainly tugged at the heart strings. Although it was pulled from TV for being ‘too political’, it became viral across social media with nearly half a million views on YouTube. Similarly, the long-awaited John Lewis advert returned this year with the legend that is Sir Elton John and the premise of their advert ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift’, captured the hearts of British viewers. If you want to take a look at more of these powerful PR campaigns, check out this roundup of 2018’s festive ads.
There we have it, a look back at the big marcomms industry trends and events that occurred in 2018. As we reflect on the past year, there are certainly some lessons to be learned and, as the pace of change continues to grow in our industry, we as comms professionals need to ensure that we can keep up. So, as the festive season gets into full swing, start looking ahead to next year and see how you can focus and improve your marcomms strategy — who knows what 2019 has in store?