It's hard to believe we've completed the first decade of the 21st Century. It doesn't seem so long ago that we were looking toward the new millennium with both excitement and fear -- excitement about the yet-to-be-discovered wonders of technology, and fear about tensions in the Middle East and concerns about computer meltdowns as we moved from 1999 to 2000.
And look at what we've lived through these past 10 years ... 9/11 and the ever-present threat of terrorism, hidden weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the busted financial bubble on many fronts from home ownership to banking and investments, the growth of technology that we can take everywhere we go in our cellphones, iPads and more.
On the PR and marketing front, this past year has been one of change and continued retrenchment.
A year ago, I said 2010 would be a challenging year for marketers and agencies. I think that's been true, although we are finally seeing some signs of recovery and growth. The ad trades are reporting that surveys of marketers show they plan to loosen spending on marketing, advertising and public relations. That's welcome news, although I don't expect to see us sitting on easy street for some time. A full recovery make take years, and we may never quite return to what we had during the earlier years of the past decade.
I said a year ago that social media would become part of agency offerings, and that has also proven accurate. Advertising and public relations agencies large and small are adding social media outreach to their menu of services, and this will continue and probably speed up in 2011.
I said traditional media relations will not go away, even as new technologies and new ways to work with social media develop. This will remain true in the new year and well beyond, since the basics of pitching will not change as technology evolves. If anything, the basics will become even more important as the variety and breadth of media outlets soars -- knowing and understanding your media targets, knowing what makes a good story and the common sense of selling a story idea to an editor, whether at a traditional media outlet or a social media outlet. Public relations practicioners who remain true to these basics will succeed.
And clear and concise writing ability will remain a key -- if too often overlooked -- skill in public relations. It will be about knowing how to write in solid English, rather than the abbreviated and often colorless language of texting and Twitter. Yes, we will need to find ways to condense our messages into 140 characters, but it will still ultimately come back to compelling writing that explains, clarifies and convinces the reader, viewer or listener.
The bottom line for 2011 ... more of the same, but at even faster speed. It's hard to say what trends will take hold and what will be a passing fad and what will stay with us. Twitter, the hot thing a year or so ago, is still very much with us, but it's not the "hot" thing anymore. Do you remember the hot thing 2 - 3 years ago called MySpace? When was the last time you used it?
For younger people, the preferred method of communication is texting, instant messaging and Facebook. That will likely remain so for a few years, and marketers will be working to utilize those platforms as ways to communicate with customers and prospects. And as smartphones take over the cellular market, those platforms and others will be instantly and constantly available to us on our small screens, bringing us a range of content we could not have imagined ten years ago as we hit the year 2000.
The new year will be challenging for sure, as we face some tough obstacles including some over which we have little or no control. It will continue to be exciting, as we embrace new technologies that enable us to have unprecedented communication with each other, both on a one-to-one scale and in targeted and mass outreach.
2011 should be an interesting ride.
peaceful year ahead.