My Travels Reveal Six Communications Trends

September 19, 2017

In recent months, I’ve spent a lot of time with an array of clients in various parts of the world. We talked in detail about the state of their business, the business world at large and the evolution of the communications function. Our conversations revealed six communications trends vital for today’s business climate.

1. Visualization peaks as a new skill, as does tracking images. The attention span of a human is now less than that of a goldfish, which adds to the need for compelling visualization in every smartphone and laptop in which we communicate. Clients are now looking to create more compelling visuals for everything from internal communications to quarterly earnings. On the flip side, in an interesting twist, since an unplanned photo or video can spread quickly and impact reputation, clients are now looking for the best way to monitor not just words but also images to help prevent a crisis.

2. Executive visibility is reinvented. Executives want to monitor and build their reputation across various social channels today. Their voices and leadership style impact reputation, talent acquisition and employee communications via LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. As a result, perhaps our most popular offering this summer has been, a simple, easy way to help executives navigate building their presence online.

3. Pop up anyone? Experiential is making a comeback as people want to share with others the cool things they are doing. Brands who offer FOMO-inducing experiences garner earned media with micro-influencers.

4. Smart brands target influencers. Brands that have not worked to identify and engage influencers are missing out on not only added reach and impressions but also increased sales. The ability to accurately target, measure results and tap into the customer purchase path is increasing exponentially in a very short time. Nearly every PR plan should now have or at least consider an influencer component.

5. Media stays king. Last year we could not hire video talent fast enough, and this summer we are finding the focus is back on earned media experts. No matter what new offerings we create, the goal for enhanced video or storytelling skills is to extend our clients’ reach in paid, owned, shared and earned channels. When our video makes all three of the major U.S. morning shows, we know we have captured and placed compelling content for a brand.

6. Issues & crisis is top of mind. With data breaches happening more frequently, politics playing out on Twitter and corporate executives often spanning the globe, companies need to manage reputational issues quickly and effectively. Clients are finding apps like Ketchum’s Mobile RepProtect helpful for navigating escalating issues as they work to gather the necessary facts and information and alert the right people.

As experiences, visualization, writing and distribution merge in new ways, we are working to create new offerings and assets that have both widespread and targeted reach for clients. I hope this sparks some ideas for you and I encourage you to share your perspective on any of these or other trends that are top of mind for you.


Barri Rafferty is CEO of Ketchum, one of the world’s top communication firms, with offices and affiliates in 130 markets in more than 70 countries. Barri leads Ketchum’s Global Leadership Council to guide the strategy, client service and performance of the agency.

Outside of Ketchum, she participates in a number of groups including the sustainability task-force for the World Economic Forum and is a member of Arthur W. Page Society Page Up program. Rafferty sits on the board of StepUp, an organization with the mission of empowering girls from under-resourced communities to become confident, college-bound, and career focused and she is also a member of the governing body of OmniWomen, Omnicom’s Leading Women’s Network, for which she holds quarterly panel discussions featuring prominent women. She is the recipient of the Plank Center Milestones in Mentoring Award.

Barri is a graduate of Boston University (M.A) and Tulane University and enjoys watching soccer, volleyball, and dance – especially when her son and daughter are involved! Connect with her on Twitter: @barrirafferty