Top 5 trends from Davos

Written by Sam Healey on Monday 17th of March 2014

For 15 years SHILLING has been leading the way in global communication and innovation. Last week Matt and I went to the World Communication Forum to debate the next “big things” with fellow communication professionals. For two days we took part in energetic talks, heated debates and conversations with passionate communicators from 30+ countries.

The WCF in Davos is a unique and special forum, but what did we learn and how will it benefit our clients and work? Here are the top five trends from the forum.

Data is everything

There needs to be an increased focus on data analytics and intelligence. It provides an insight into audiences and their behaviours. It also enables the impact of communication to be measured and enables a more meaningful strategy to be created.

Data has the power to personalise your communication and target the ‘market of one’ but that is not enough. Intelligent use of data enables communicators to give their audience the answer to the next question they should be asking.

Although it’s now easier to access data than ever before, it must be respected and used in the right way to balance anonymity and transparency. 

People power

Data might be everything but do not underestimate the power of people! As views, opinions and thoughts are more easily shared – emotional impact now far outweighs the facts. Employee communication should be focused on finding emotional people stories to carry the messages. 

There is an increasing connection between the psychology and neuroscience behind why people react to certain communication, and not others. Knowing how people make decisions focuses communication on generating real action.

The reputation and credibility of your message will also have more weight if it has employee advocates and ambassadors behind it. By involving key employees in the communication process, they will feel an emotional connection and positively contribute to online discussions and “water cooler” chat.  

New media

“New media” is growing at an unprecedented rate. Although it is now easier and cheaper to communicate than before, this is leading to businesses adopting a ‘scattergun’ approach and not thinking first about what media will work for their employees, culture and message.

People ‘share’ information and thoughts every second of every day. You need to promote sharing of information and knowledge within your business. Sharing of emotions and information will get bigger and bigger. We must make sure that as technology gets smarter, so do we as communicators.

Attention span is short

A communicator’s fight for their audience’s attention is getting tougher. People don’t read long articles they typically read the first paragraph, scan for key words or read the comments to see if it’s worth their time. ‘tl; dr’ means ‘too long, don’t read’

Communication needs to master the art of simple, memorable messages.

Authenticity and trust

The stand out message, across the two days and all the debates, was that people now demand communication to be authentic, transparent and build trust. That said, your strategy should not be focused on building trust but, instead, make sure it reflect aspects of your brand, product or service that harbour the feeling of trust.

Without trust in your communication – your message will not get through. 

It was an intense two days but it’s given us plenty of practical ideas to take into our work, and innovations to embrace. I came away fascinated by how influential communication is in shaping business, society and culture. We will build on what we’ve learnt and grow the fantastic relationships we’ve made. We will continue to remain on top of the global communication trends as it benefits our clients and industries. 

For even more news, views and insight check out our twitter feed @AJG_SHILLING