For the past few years I’ve made predictions for what the next 12-months will look like. Here are some for 2017.

By Dan Slee

It’s never been more exciting and dangerous than being involved in public sector communications.

You have the tools to talk to sub-groups but those tools change constantly.

Never has the Robert Phillips message of ’embrace chaos’ been more relevant.

Here are things to expect: 

Zombie comms teams will grow. Six people trying to do the work of 20. Without any wider realisation that the team has been cut. The need to break this all-too-common death cycle is beyond mission critical.

The rise of the dark web will leave comms flat-footed. As the non-searchable web like whatsapp and Facebook messenger soar there needs to be a scalable way of using it by the public sector. I’ve not seen this.

Merged comms teams. The comms for fire, police and maybe a council and bit of NHS will start to emerge not just in theory but in practice. The skills of a wise head of comms will be important.

Risk of politics increases. There’s no secret politics post Brexit and post Trump is getting shriller. There are looming changes north of the border and possibly in the North of England. Comms people risk being dragged into political knockabout in a way that they weren’t before. The pressure to stay out of politics and be independent has never been greater. Watch the slip on Twitter. Watch the special favour that gets out.

Teams will be made up of too many old people. Like Radio One in the Smashie and Nicie era the cardigans and leather elbow patches will hold things back. Recuitment freezes have led to a largely 40 plus workforce that doesn’t represent its demographic. This is a timebomb.

Press Offices are finally over. Those that exist will stop and those in them must learn new skills.

Communicate like insurgents. The long sign-off and the 48-hours to check a word need to be over. The Facebook row and the radio station’s Twitter update are blowing this out of the water.

A third of social media for an organisation needs to stop. Poorly maintained. Going nowhere. You know it. You’ve seen it. The trouble is knowing which third. Review what you do.

Comms planning will be the most important skill. It’s not traditional comms and then stick some digital on. It’s being comfortable with both and using that which is best yto reach the right people at the right time in the right place.

Educate the f****g client. As times move there is a realisation that the work is never, ever, ever done. You’ll need to keep explaining what you are doing and why. Fail to do this at your peril.

Twitter will continue to wither and LinkedIn prosper. As a platform I’ve loved it. But the pre-eminance of other platforms will see Twitter’s ongoing importance diminish.

LinkedIn will do something useful with video. And its about time.

Live streaming video will become the norm. We’re still working this out.

Video will continue to boom. It’s already 80 per cent of the internet. This will rise. Campaigns that lead on video will become the norm.

Post truth. This is the biggest single problem facing any public sector comms team. Working out how to challenge bobbins needs to be done. Now.

Facebook groups. The benefit of the group far outweighs the page for the public sector. While the analytics are lost the reach more than makes up for it.


 Looking back, how were the predictions? 

In 2016 what I think I got right

Video did become mainstream.

The flat white economy – freelancers to fill a skills gap – will form part of the future. 

There will be more freelancers.

Video continues to grow massively. 

Successful teams will have broken down the digital – traditional divide.

Say hello to VR video. 

The most sensible phrase in 2016 will be: ‘if it’s not hitting a business objective we’re not doing it and the chief exec agrees with us.’ 

‘Nice to have’ becomes ‘used to have’ for more people. As cuts continue and widen more pain will be felt by more. Some people don’t know what’s coming down the track.

Comms and PR continue to become female. 


In 2016: Things I got half right

LinkedIn will be the single most useful channel for comms people. 

People will realise their internal comms are poor when it is too late.  Usually at a time when their own jobs have been put at risk.

Email marketing rises. 

Specialist generalists will continue to be prized.

As the pace of change continues training and peer-to-peer training will never be more important. 


In 2016: What I didn’t get right

As resources across some organisations become thinner the chances of a fowl-up that will cost people lives increase. 

Comms and PR will get younger. 

Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.

Picture credit: NASA / Flickr

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

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