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02 Jan. 2019 | Comments (0)

Each year, fellows from the Society for New Communications Research of The Conference Board (SNCR) share their thoughts about the main issues that will drive the agenda in digital and social media, and beyond. As we move into 2019, here’s what some of our fellows see coming.

Shel Holtz

  • Stories (e.g., Instagram and Snapchat) will continue to dominate social sharing.
  • Tools for using artificial intelligence (AI) in communications will begin to appear. Even internal communicators will find uses for AI and resources to help them use it.
  • Communication via voice appliance will explode. Companies will accelerate efforts to develop and deploy skills for the Amazon Alexa environment and Actions for Google Assistant. Smart speakers will struggle, though, to find a place in the enterprise.
  • Personalization will take off (aided in large part by AI), infiltrating all dimensions of communication.
  • Communicators will have to start communicating about (and even using) blockchain-based technology.

Nora Barnes

  • Chatbots will proliferate and take over the consumer relations function
  • Blogging will again resurge as more and more restrictions and problems occur with free social. The power of ownership will prevail. 
  • Mobile, mobile, mobile. Millennials literally buy, sell, interact, get food, drinks and transportation with their phones. If it isn’t mobile friendly it doesn’t exist. It will only grow. 


Thomas Stoeckle

  • Digital marketing metrics will continue to grow up beyond the reach hype. As PESO (paid-earned-shared-owned) integration efforts continue, more mature outcome-based models of marcomms measurement will become mainstream (combining data science and human science)
  • Corporate activism. Business and business leaders will address “activism topics” more confidently (e.g., #metoo, climate change, diversity, populism, etc)
  • Big Tech regulation. Voices will get louder to regulate Big Tech and make them contribute more to society (having the highest market cap, lowest corporate taxes and limited job creation won’t cut it any longer)
  • Ethics and trust. Ethics and actively building trustworthiness will move up the business agenda as it is seen as value generating
  • Uncertainty will become certain. VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) and “radical uncertainty” will become mainstream topics at industry events

Jan Botz

  • Onboarding a new CEO. How does an organization take into account a new CEO’s style, comfort with social media, expectations for the organization, etc? And beyond the onboarding itself, how do communicators work most effectively with your CEO/C-Suite to advance communications in the organization, particularly communicating strategy so that employees understand and demonstrate the desired behaviors?
  • Change communications. With what seems like an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions happening, how do we effectively communicate the change to our stakeholders (primarily this is about employee communications) and lay out employees’ roles in achieving the goals set by the company with the merger or acquisition? There is a lot of information out there about change management itself, but not so much about the most effective communications.
  • Generation Z. They don't easily fit into molds; they want to work for a company to make an impact; they are the first generation to be born with a smart phone in their hands; they saw their parents struggle during the 2008+ downturn. How do organizations attract and retain young people? Also, how do we sell our products and services to this rising generation? 
  • Crisis, Crisis, Crisis. Social and digital media will continue to define how companies need to be prepared and nimble in assessing and addressing crises. Further, identifying inherent risks before they become an issue has become more complicated. There is interplay, but sometimes understanding the difference is helpful in deciding a company response.
  • Reputation. Advancing and protecting our corporate brands and reputation are on the minds of all senior communicators and marketers. It's a big topic with many angles—from CSR to managing issues and crises. 
  • Intranets.Questions abound about thebest platforms, content strategies and new ideas to make intranets compelling and valuable to employees.
  • Expectations of CEOs and companies to comment on social and political issues. Research is showing increasing expectations on the part of Americans for business to step up and “fix” social problems. Employees expect their CEOs to stand up for what's right (see Gen Z, above). Corporate communicators are at the heart of these discussions in their firms: when is it best to speak up or not? How do we convince a reluctant C-Suite it’s necessary to state an opinion? Or, the opposite—how to suggest to your CEO it’s not the right time to speak? How do firms follow up their words with actions? How do you assess the risks and consequences? These are just some of the topics open for discussion?

Gretchen Fox

  • Conscious Capitalism!! Values-based, humanity-first businesses creating prosperity for all stakeholders.
  • About the Author:Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson is Principal of Parky Communications, a communications agency specializing in sustainability and CSR reporting and communications. He serves as the Co-Leader of The Conference Board Cor…

    Full Bio | More from Alex Parkinson

  • About the Author:Nora Ganim Barnes

    Nora Ganim Barnes

    Nora Ganim Barnes is a Chancellor, Professor of Marketing and Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Nora has worked as a consultant for many natio…

    Full Bio | More from Nora Ganim Barnes

  • About the Author:Shel Holtz

    Shel Holtz

    Shel Holtz, ABC (Accredited Business Communicator), is Director of Internal Communications of Webcor, a San Francisco-based general contractor. He was previously principal of Holtz Communication + Tec…

    Full Bio | More from Shel Holtz

  • About the Author:Jan Botz

    Jan Botz

    Janet (Jan) Botz is program director for the Corporate Communications Strategy and Internal Communications Councils, and Annual Corporate Communications Conference at The Conference Board. She also le…

    Full Bio | More from Jan Botz

  • About the Author:Gretchen Fox

    Gretchen Fox

    Gretchen Fox is a recognized executive and co-founder at MTO Agency [made to order], a social strategy and training agency that prepares businesses for success in the Digital Age. Fox provides a soci…

    Full Bio | More from Gretchen Fox


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