Did you know that 53.3% of communication professionals have low visual communication skills?
I learned this from the latest European Communication Monitor 2017 which is a yearly survey that looks at trends and challenges in the communication industry. This year, over 3,300 professionals from 50 European countries took part in the research.
Here's a quick video of some of the key findings:
I went through the research slides and this fantastic summary to put together my six key themes:
Six Key Themes in Communication for 2017 and Beyond
#1 Visualisation is key
94.4% of European communication professionals believe that visual communication will gain in importance for strategic communication but competencies and skills in the area are still lagging behind. This increase is stimulated by a rising stakeholder demand (69%) for visual communication such as online videos, infographics and instant photos in messaging. However, only 4.6% of companies have implemented advanced management processes for this and only one in ten professionals is highly skilled in the field.
#2 Social bots are on the rise
Social bots is a hot topic in politics and business alike but largely neglected by many communication professionals. Only 35.9% follow the debate about social bots and 15.9% have no idea about the topic at all. Social bots are mainly seen as a threat to public debates and organisational reputation alike and 73.2% agree that social bots present ethical challenges. Still, four out of ten respondents also see opportunities arising from social bots with 6% of surveyed organisations already using them and 14.7% planning to use them in 2018.
#3 Hypermodernity is taking over
A large majority of the surveyed professionals (71.5%) witness a transformation towards a hyper modern culture in their country, characterised by turbo consumption, hyper change, hyper narcissism and hyper individualism that significantly influence stakeholder relations. Every second communicator (52.3%) confirms that this has already changed the communication between their organisation and stakeholders. For example, 43.5% of organisations are valuing continuous change, decentralised IT, rapid adjustments of the workforce, creativity and ethics of perceived responsibility.
#4 Benchmarking doesn't happen
Benchmarking is still a largely neglected field in strategic communication. Communication departments generally have implemented fewer quality management processes (40.7%) compared to other organisational functions. If they assess their activities at all, they focus predominantly on the performance or impact of messaging activities (up to 51.1%). Benchmarking processes over time and between subunits (32.3%) or against externally validated standards of performance (22.5%) seem to be less relevant.
#5 Media relations still rules
Across Europe, social media and social networks are considered by far to be the most important channel to address stakeholders, gatekeepers and audiences (90.4%). Other online communication comes second (83.1%), followed by press and media relations with online newspapers and magazines (82.4%). The research over the years shows that new and social media technology complement traditional channels but they do not replace them. However, the shift towards online and mobile is consistently overestimated by practitioners and media relations with print newspapers/magazines are still stronger than expected.
#6 Digital is evil
Yet again, coping with the digital evolution and the social web has been voted as the most important issue for communication management over the next three years as according to 40.4% of the respondents holding this view. I've said this before, PR has been tremendously slow at adopting digital and socialand this research confirms it again.
There's a ton of knowledge and facts in the research paper with detailed analyses for 20 countries and different types of organisations (companies, non-profits, governmental, agencies) if you want to dig in.
What's your key learning?