Back to the future of communication

allthingsicfutureWhat is the future of communication? I’m going to share what I think will remain relevant for comms pros whether you’re in 2015 or 3015.

I’m looking to the future because 21 October 2015 is officially #backtothefutureday – the date in the iconic Back to the Future films when we’re all meant to be whizzing around in flying cars and on hoverboards, drinking Pepsi Perfect and with self-tying shoes.

Ahem, well that’s not quite happened.

But if you told me back in 1985, heck, even 2005, that I would be paying for Tube travel via my watch and using that same device to control the lights in my house and order/buy groceries, I would have found it hard to believe.

We have many incredible things that were unthinkable when the films came out. I have the ability to talk to my children via FaceTime/baby monitors from my phone wherever I am in the world, and have Live Photos in my pocket to hear their voices.

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched the trilogy and wondered what the week we’re currently in would be like. The films have just been re-released in a 30 year boxset with lots of extra features and bonus footage.

bttfThe future may not be here as it was imagined in the films, but I think it’s an exciting time to be working in the field of communication and be interested in all things technology related.

There are many elements of the films that have come true. Read this article from the Independent to find out more or this article via the BBC.

Brands have been making the most of the excitement around the date. Have you seen the Pepsi Perfect campaign trailer? It’s one of many nods to the film around at the moment. I’ve also seen a spoof Jaws19 trailer.

If you’ve never seen the Back to the Future films, I heartily recommend checking them out. Will you be watching one tomorrow?

Back to the future of communication

I often get asked to predict what the future of communication is and trends I think professional communicators should pay attention to.

Rather than get drawn into fads – or “comms bling,” I believe there are some fundamentals of good communication that will remain true whether the year is 2015 or 3015.

So here are my thoughts and some of my favourite quotes about communication. I’d love to know yours, do comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC. They are in no particular order:

My top 10 thoughts on the future of communication and work: (Tweet this)

  1. Face-to-face communication cannot be beaten. It can be replicated via technology, but in person remains the most effective form.
  2. Peer-to-peer will continue to grow in importance. We’re moving from hierarchy to horizontal communication and employees and customers trust ‘people like me’ (Edelman). Peers are powerful and can transform comms.
  3. Trust is the currency of communication. With trust, great things can happen. You need to trust employees to do the right thing, than assume they’ll do the wrong thing (e.g. social media use and access).
  4. Everything that is not shared is lost. I heard this from Lafarge a few years ago and believe it to be true.
  5. There’s no such thing as purely ‘internal’ communication. Everything has the potential to be shared. I wrote about this in the book Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals (Wiley, 2012)
  6. Don’t view communication as something you do to employees, but for and with them. I’ve said and written this constantly in my career. It’s transformed how I think about comms and I share it often.
  7. The role of professional communicators has shifted from content creators to content curators.
  8. Work is a thing you do, not a place you go. Read my recent blog post on this.
  9. Integrated communication does not mean setting aside skill sets and disciplines. The focus should be equipping, enabling and empowering your employees and customers by having a joined up approach. Read more.
  10. Employee engagement isn’t something extra. It’s what you say and how you do it. (Borrowed from Engage for Success).

Quotes on communication I think will remain relevant

  • We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak – Epictetus. Listening actively is a skill that can transform communication, particularly in organisations.
  • I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel – Maya Angelou
  • First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak – Epictetus
  • Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance – George Bernard Shaw
  • The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place – George Bernard Shaw
  • Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder – Rumi
  • When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective – Stephen R. Covey
  • The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go – Dr Seuss
  • When we change the way we communicate, we change society – Clay Shirky
  • You’re aiming for employees to feel ‘good tired’ at the end of their day. That’s a sign of engagement – David MacLeod

What do you think the future of communication is? You’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.


Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 20 October 2015.

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