THURSDAY 16 FEB 2017 3:23 PM


If 2016 was the year of post-truth, fake news and an unprecedented rejection of the status quo, the need for strong and strategic communications is, in 2017, more pressing than ever. To ensure the smooth transition of information and minimal risk of reputation damage, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has published its list of 17 recommendations for 2017.

From augmented reality to refining social media advertising strategies, all 17 recommendations provide insight into how organisations can benefit from their communications strategy.

At the ‘2017: The year of…’ launch event held in the Elwood Atfield gallery in Westminster, London, a panel of seasoned communications professionals and speakers speculated on the latest communication trends and their potential use against tested methods.

“Your past success is far less interesting than your future vision,” said Trevor Hardy, CEO of trend forecasting and brand strategy consultancy, the Future Laboratory, when explaining how company trust is no longer synonymous with its heritage. “Just being good is not good enough anymore,” Hardy said. And, while so-called new business 'unicorns' are perhaps better equipped to deal with modern world challenges, reputation is keenly considered by the PRCA as set to undergo major change over 2017. This will have repercussions for businesses old and new.

The PRCA says, “Cynicism about corporations is high, and every board should consider if it is close enough to the needs of society. For challenger brands, there is a huge opportunity to displace established players by questioning their motives and actions.”

Despite ‘17 for ’17’ being aimed at the corporate and organisational world, however, the influence of politics in its composition is plain to see. ‘Political bifurcation of social media’ and ‘Escapism’ enter at point four and point five, both concerned with the policing of social media and desire for new experiences by those disillusioned with the politicisation of digital platforms. Fake news enters in first place – “While 2016 saw much discussion of political fake news, in future businesses will also be subject of aggressive campaigns based on misinformation,” says the PRCA. “The need for intensive social media monitoring, rapid rebuttal, flexibility and empowerment of frontline communicators has never been greater.”

Employee happiness is also a major feature of ’17 for ‘17’ list, with the need for a work/life balance and time away from screens – ‘digital detox’ – recognised by employers as integral for a positive internal culture.

‘Purpose at heart,’ the recommendation at number seven, is crucial for satisfaction in employees and consumers alike. Considering the lack of trust currently pervading the social landscape, “Consumers want to see authentic purpose as part of any brand’s ethos,” says the PRCA. “Brands that win hearts and minds this year will have purpose at the heart of what they do.”

The relevance of the panel and speaker predictions for the forthcoming year might yet surprise communications and PR professionals. Considering the tumult experienced during 2016, a clear strategy and engaged workforce is necessary to avoid the panic often experiencealongside seismic political and economic change.

Click here for the PRCA’s full ’17 for ‘17’ list of recommendations or follow the #PRCA17 hashtag on Twitter for more information.