When the world changed in March 2020, strategic communications became a necessity across business functions. Now, as communicators polish their crystal balls to prophesize what lies ahead for the future of their field, what newfound trends do they see?
Ragan’s Salary Survey & Workplace Culture Report for 2022 asked communicators to fill in the blank: “The future of communications is _______________.”
Here’s what they said.
The future of communications is about rebuilding trust and fighting disinformation
Several survey respondents said that the future of communications will require more new and creative ways for getting each message across to audiences.
One respondent said this will best be accomplished “(t)hrough concise, engaging and innovative content to break through the noise and garner attention in an ADHD society. We have 7 seconds of our audience’s attention, and we have to find new and creative ways to grab it.”
Another said that getting the message across ultimately comes down to “repairing trust through transparency and responsibility.” But what does that look like in action?
Several said that the future of communications will require increased efforts to combat disinformation.
“The fundamental principles and values become more important as fake news becomes easier to create and distribute,” said one respondent. “People are aware of this and so will gravitate towards credible communications and credible managers/leaders. The communications professional will be at the heart of this process, using old and new tools and their deep understanding of society, issues and people.”
Working from home will require comms to harness tech
Several respondents said that, as working from home and new technology forces workforce culture to evolve, comms will be at the center of the shift as the practice’s competencies become necessary in other business functions.
“The idea that communications and marketing jobs are separate will become an outdated model as organizations begin to compress roles and departments” in a remote workforce, said one communicator, with another adding that this “closer blend between marketing and communications (will) focus on building and maintaining relationships with employees and customers.”
Most agree that the embrace of new tools and technology are what will help communicators engage these remote workforces, with one respondent saying that comms will increasingly be tasked with “(w)orking toward tools and technologies that will allow us to remain connected, engaged and focused even when we are not physically working in the same space.”
Another said that this trend has the potential to be both promising and alienating. “As we continue to advance technological communication options, we’ll be better able to reach more people in less time, but it means that we’ll rely more and more on technology and less on personal interactions.”
Embracing tech and remote work will require comms to protect culture
In the words of one respondent: “A changing, diverse and non-centralized workforce requires effective communications to maintain company culture, associate engagement and efficiency of operations.”
Indeed, this jibes with the findings from another Ragan survey, the 2022 Communications Benchmark Report. That survey of nearly 1,000 communicators found that 32% of respondents said that engaging a hybrid workforce was the biggest culture challenge of 2022, while another 17% said creating a positive culture for a remote workforce was the biggest challenge.
Another salary survey respondent said that the communicators who effectively engage employees and preserve culture will be “(a)daptive to new channels and tools, reactive to feedback and steadfast on clarity, conciseness and creativity.”
All acknowledged that company culture is changing very rapidly, issuing a charge for internal communicators. “We’ve gone from ‘redheaded stepchild’ to ‘belle of the ball’ in a short period of time and every day I feel the pressure of maintaining enough of that to at least retain a seat at the table,” they said.
“Overall, I think the future of communications is very bright,” they concluded. “The world is slowly figuring out that it’s a profession with both soft AND hard skills.”
Read the complete findings from the Salary & Workplace Culture Survey: 2022 Edition here.