Communications Trend Radar

 

The five trends for corporate communications 2021

 

About the Communications Trend Radar

The Communications Trend Radar is a annual research project focusing on trends that impact corporate communications. It has been conducted by Leipzig University and the University of Duisburg-Essen. The overarching goal of the Communications Trend Radar is to help communication leaders prepare for trends that have the potential to influence their work. Therefore, the following fields were observed:

  • Society: Trends emerging in different domains of public communication, opinion formation, and values that might change people’s attitudes and behavior, and affect expectations regarding businesses, their activities, and their communication.
     
  • Management: Trends in strategic management and organizational design that communication professionals should be aware of.
     
  • Technology: Technological developments that could either impact corporate communications or be used by communication professionals.

 


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Key Facts about the 5 trends

  • Denialism: Denialism has become a central issue in out digitalized world. Rumors and false information can be spread much easier trough social media platforms than ever before and so have the potential to influence public opinions.Communicators have the task to identify denialism and find suitable strategies to obviate misinformation and protect the company.
     
  • Virtual Corporate Communications: Due to digitalization, new ways of communication, such as virtual formats, have become the new normal. This opens up several opportunities, but also challenges for communication departments. Topics such as remote leadership, digital collaboration and employee motivation show the importance of personal communication and thus the urgency of proper virtual formats.
     
  • Sustainble Communications: Environmental Sustainability has become an important issue in society, but also for corporations. Thus, this topic has raising relevance for communication departments and communicator, who have to integrate sustainability in their strategic communcation.
     
  • Digital Nudging: Digital nudging can support in leading the way towards effective virtual decision-making by employees throughout the organization. For communication leaders it is an opportunity to raise their profile within the company as experts on optimizing digital environments. 
     
  • Voice Interaction: The increase in voice-based searches might affect the visibility of any company’s public communication on search engines. In addition, Voice interactions allows corporate communications to reach out to stakeholders in a new way, and to position the company as an innovative brand. 

 

Methodology

  1. Sources & screening: First, information sources which provide relevant insights into the professional discourse in the areas of management, technology, and society were monitored and screened. These sources primarily include recent publications from scientific journals and conferences in the respective domains, but also selected newspapers (e.g., Economist Science and Technology), magazines (e.g., Harvard Business Review, Wired), social news sites (e.g., Reddit Science), blogs and websites (e.g., ReadWrite, The Next Web), whitepapers, and corporate trend reports.
     
  2. Trend profiles: Each potential trend was systematically documented in a trend profile consisting of a brief description and several criteria estimating the trend’s relevance to corporate communications. Specifically, we assessed the impact of the trend on the corporate communications function, processes and management.
     
  3. Scoring: Based on the criteria detailed in the trend profiles, a scoring method was developed that was used to rate each of the trends.
     
  4. Selection: These trends were first discussed among the Communications Trend Radar team during a workshop. Each team member then voted individually for the top trends in the areas of management, technology, and society. We proposed five trends for 2021 (depicted below) based on the outcome of this process.
     
  5. Reflection: These trends were examined further and later discussed with approximately 20 communication leaders during an online workshop in November 2020.
     
  6. Report: All trends were analyzed and described in more detail in our publication - the Communications Trend Radar

 

Research team

The Communications Trend Radar 2021 project was conducted by a research team of the Leipzig and the University of Duisburg-Essen.

from left to right:  

  • Ansgar Zerfass is Professor and Chair of Strategic Communication at the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at Leipzig University, Germany. 
     
  • Daniel Ziegele, M.A. is a research associate at the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at Leipzig University, Germany. 
     
  • Sünje Clausen, M.Sc. is a research associate at the chair of Professional Communication in Electronic Media/Social Media at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
     
  • Florian Brachten, M.Sc. is a research associate at the chair of Professional Communication in Electronic Media/Social Media at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. 
     
  • Stefan Stieglitz is Professor of Professional Communication in Electronic Media/Social Media at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.