I am looking out the window at Kioskafe early December, sipping my fresh mint tea and browsing among myriads of magazine titles from all over the world. ‘Keep my carry-on luggage in mind, don’t buy everything you like’’ - is always in my head when I am in any of Monocle’s stores. This time I settle with about 1,5 hours spent there having a great tea, coffee and a chat with the friendly staff and ‘The Forecast’.
It is a few days after our global tweetchat #GlobalPR16 hosted by Shonali Burke with comments coming in from several continents. The next few weeks are packed with Xmas parties, 2016 campaign launches, a short charity-trip where we take children books to a very remote village deep in Transsylvania; we all talk about the year but the most commonly heard sentence is: “let’s forget it, focus on the coming one; next year should be better”. Is it really going to be?
Tyler Brule and his great team at Monocle take their bet on fashion // multiculturalism // war and defence and // a better quality of life (conference link). This year’s issue is just as exciting as the one before. I quite like the balance between how they cover popular topics like war, travel, urban living, sustainability but with a completely different approach from other media outlets (like jet setting would be the most average way of living). They also asked think tanks from around the world what they plan to focus on this year. Here is a summary:
- London: China // EU // Refugess // Security // Syria
- Nairobi: Somalia’s political transition // Terrorist groups // Counter-terrorism // Weapons // Human Trafficking
- Madrid: Catalonia // Chinese slump and Latin America // Algeria // Cuba // Middle East and North Africa
- Hong Kong: Digital economy // Trade and investment // Sustainability // How central banks support global economy // Macroeconomics
- Washington: European challenges // European security // Asia Pacific // Cities and urban policies // US presidential election
They sound a bit depressing except the ones from Hong Kong. The future looks a bit cloudy as most topics are potential crisis situations as we, PR professionals, define them (I mean Donald Trump winning, too). At least we know them and preparation is the key in handling crisis well.
Crisis management was also one of the key topic at our #GlobalPR16 where we asked our (CIPR) members to come up with their predictions for the coming year. Here is a list of their bets:
- crisis management: more often, more prepared and more intercultural
- automation (that can save time for more creativity & relationships)
- more strategic role for PR professionals
- internal stakeholders will be more in focus
- reputation management to regain massive lack of trust in organisations
- digitalisation “other (HR, IT, logistics, marketing) will use more digital and (as PR) digital is about content”
We can say I cheated since it’s already mid-January but here are the few things I will keep my eyes on throughout this year:
- urban challenges: not only because I turned my head to my old love (urbanism) and new love (sustainability); and not only because I helped Bristol (UK) be a bit greener as European Green Capital 2015. Smart, liveable, happy, future, resilient cities (and the list follows how marketers call them) are our future as over half of the world’s population now live in urban areas. We need original and unique solutions as technology, history, cultural differences, speed of growth and resources vary by continent.
- migration to Europe: the situation in Syria caused hundreds of thousands to flee to the borders of Europe followed by families from Pakistan and Afghanistan, too. We, Europeans can expect another group of refugees escaping from Africa where drought, ethnic and religious tensions and poverty are the main reasons for leaving their homeland.
- US Elections: not only for us, communicators are excited (or disappointed) to see how Trump rolls ahead but he seems to be a new kind of candidate. Of course that doesn’t mean he would keep his recent style and promises as President just as Mr Obama hasn’t fulfilled all of the expectations towards him. But this campaign (as most are) is setting new practices and rules for the communication and media industry.
- Sustainability: a keyword for the near future. While climate change is certainly not over, the hype is. We are making a lot of development from food waste to financial investments, extreme weather to energy resource diversity and security. We need to make our relationships between people, businesses, communities and different stakeholders sustainable as well, too. Although there are some very good examples, the switch is really slow and I believe we are worryingly far from having the critical mass to turn the majority of all stakeholders to think, talk and act sustainably.
Yes, some points may sound pessimistic but let’s focus more on the opportunity rather than the threat, and find solutions instead of deepening the problem. Of course, as a communication professional, I see crises as challenges that keep us aware, prepared and made to use our best skills in a relatively short time.
We have to focus to providing simple solutions for complex challenges.