PREDICTING THE UNPREDICTABLE

2016 was perhaps the most unpredictable year for decades with the rank outsider Mr Trump winning the US elections, Britain voting to head for the European exit and Leicester City winning the UK’s Premier League at odds of more than 5000 / 1.

You could therefore argue what’s the point in making predictions for 2017, when some of the biggest events of the last year were not foreseen by anyone?  Perhaps our time should be better spent being ready to identify, embrace and accept change.

With the speed of technological evolution there’s no doubt that all businesses and sectors will face exponential change, with the potential of many being left behind if they don’t accept it.

Examples of companies that failed to predict trends and react to it include the likes of Kodak, who in 1998 had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.

We could also look at the likes of Uber, they don’t own any cars and are the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

If we look at Artificial Intelligence, IBM Watson is challenging the legal sector by offering basic legal advice within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. Some predict that as a result there will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.

It’s forecast that by the end of the year / early 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear and by around 2020, the industry will start to be completely disrupted. People won’t own cars but will use cars like driverless taxis where there’s no need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving.  There’s no doubt this will reduce accidents and also the need for insurance.

Traditional car companies are threatened by tech companies such as Tesla, Apple and Google who are essentially building a computer on wheels.  Let’s also not forget that this, alongside the growth of 3D printing and a suggestion that by 2027 10% of everything produced will be 3D printed, there will also be cost savings.

So what’s important now is for companies to identify business priorities, opportunities as well as threats to determine how they need to position and market themselves if they are to succeed.

No doubt, some will stick their heads in the sand, others will keep to what they know, while some will embrace different mediums and channels to push their boundaries and explore all opportunities available to them.

I’d hazard a guess that it’s the latter group who will make the biggest strides, engage with their customers and build a loyal following that will be useful to them now and for years to come.

Embrace the opportunities

So, if you’re looking to embrace the opportunities, where should your time be best spent?  Genuine engagement with target audiences remains key and a conscious effort to listen, engage and deliver consistently across all channels is key.

There’s no doubt that the various media mediums will continue to grow and evolve as the primary source of information, news and opinion.  The various platforms will continue to battle and evolve their offering, but their importance can’t be underestimated – as illustrated by Donald Trump using Twitter for significant policy announcements.

No one would have predicted this this time last year, so remember – be prepared for the unpredictable.

CAN YOU TRUMP THE MEDIA

Less than a week into Donald Trump’s new presidency it seems that one of his primary battles will be with the media, potentially distracting audiences away from bigger issues such as the Middle East, the future of NATO or the global economy.

It’s not the detail of who attended the inauguration that matters, more who’s telling the truth. The media in all honesty has had a negative relationship with the Trump camp since he first stood as a candidate. The intensity of their distain for him only increased with the various statements and actions that happened during the campaign as well as his tendency to be inconsistent with either policies or facts as highlighted in the inauguration figures.

When relationships get petty, it’s the service to the public and audiences that suffers the most. It could even be argued that part of the reason that President Trump was so successful was the fact that the liberal media did not take him (or his supporters) seriously, only choosing to scandalise some of his comments, or even paint them in a disingenuous light. In doing so they ignored what turned out to be a ‘silent’ majority of opinion.

So, where next? In my view, the media and politicians must co-exist in a symbiotic relationship where both need and use each other. Politicians who ignore the media do so at their peril, while equally media outlets that are starved of access will also struggle to compete with their competitors.

It’s worth looking back at when the Blair government ‘went to war’ with the BBC over the war in Iraq, culminating with Andrew Gilligan’s misleading report that the Government had ‘sexed up’ intelligence. It was poor reporting and they were held to account, however the animosity of highlighting their poor reporting was not well received and led to pettiness and squabbling for years to come.

Let’s also consider how the ‘media’ has changed significantly since 2003, with the growth of social media and ‘unregulated’ on-line channels and sources of information. Trump can now communicate directly to more than 21.5m people every time he tweets. When his message is retweeted, or reported on, the numbers can grow exponentially and dwarf even some of the most powerful outlets. This should not be underestimated by media owners.

The mainstream media is also under pressure to sensationalise stories in order to keep up with the less accountable on-line outlets. In doing so however they need to be cautious not to lose their credibility as recently highlighted when Time Magazine deliberately and incorrectly reported that the bust of Martin Luther King had been removed from the White House when Trump moved in. Fake reports like this need to be held accountable if the media is to retain its credibility.

The freedom of the press is paramount in a free society, however with this comes a very high level of responsibility. Whatever you think of Trump, to maintain credibility, openness and ultimately the support of the public it’s important to remain objective in the analysing and reporting of the facts. This is the only way the faith and belief in the media will be maintained and Donald will be Trumped.

12 THINGS YOU’LL ONLY UNDERSTAND IF YOU WORK AT THE SOURCE PARTNERSHIP

It’s safe to say, that at TSP, we’ve all gotten into our daily routines and habits (good and bad) and we’ve no doubt that they differ significantly from other offices – we’re very unique and we know it! So from the positive to the negative, we thought we’d sum up the top twelve TSP moments of the working week! (N.B: If hungry, do not read – there may be one or two mentions of food).

1) Our impressive tea selection:

A normal tea? Please 💁.

Don’t forget our beauty tea, lady grey, peppermint, chamomile, ginger, nettle, passion fruit and whatever else you could think to brew! The only issue is (and now we are being picky) the kitchen in our new office is down stairs, so the tea run is quite the job. Don’t forget the recurrent office debate: leave the teabag in or take it out… and don’t get us started on Chelsie’s ‘can you leave my teabag in for 30 seconds…’

2) The mid-morning sausage bap dilemma:

To deli or not to deli? We blame Emily for introducing the biggest dilemma of the day to the TSP office, especially when the hunger pangs get too much and we can’t help but run to the deli next door. The delicious taste however, often leaves us in limbo for the rest of the day – we’re too full for lunch, but hungry again at 4pm.

3) Insta-food:

As Lottie always says ‘If it’s not on Insta, did it even happen?’ With our guilt ridden food trips comes the inevitable Instagram snap, and with foodie clients, Sara is undoubtedly the office foodstagram expert, showcasing the delicious choices online. The inter-office support is real too. First 10 likes? TSP colleagues.

4) Friday lunches are the best!

If you can’t treat yourself on a Friday, when can you? With clients such as The Ice Cream Farm literally around the corner (Beth’s personal favourite), as well as our restaurant neighbours taunting us with Thai and Chinese aromas and the nearby supermarkets tempting us with homemade pizza, lunch is another reason why Friday is the best day of the working week.

5) And if you’re hungry mid-day…

You can always rely on Louis to have a packet of biscuits at his desk.

6) Stepping away from food, we are also subject to some more typical PR moments…

We promise, no more food references.

7) Calling IT support is always ‘interesting’:

You’ve done everything in your power, but your laptop won’t play ball (who said technology was reliable?!). The time has now come to phone IT support. How successful the call will be is a constant source of debate, especially when the first piece of advice is typically, ‘have you tried restarting it?’

8) But of course there are plenty of good moments in PR too:

Like getting a fresh blog idea which you know will be the best one yet (so meta). Of course, this is a daily occurrence for the TSP team, and once we start typing, the ideas just keep coming. Client, get ready to be blown away.

9) Or getting incredible coverage:

Again, this happens regularly (would you expect anything less?!) – but each time it feels like winning an Oscar (and actually winning *cough cough*, will they ever live that moment down?). The office is our red carpet, the coverage our trophy. If only it were acceptable to repeatedly strut up and down in a stunning, designer floor length dress. Cue the emotional speech when we announce our coverage win to the client…

10) But this couldn’t be achieved without Debbie’s organisational spreadsheets:

Move over Picasso – colour coordinated, stored under different tabs and filled to the brim with numbers, emails and deadlines, our Excel sheets resemble a work of art. We owe so much to these beautiful documents – how did we cope before Debbie joined the team?!

(Here’s to you Debbie!)

11) And of course, PR has the perk of attending events:

From frequent construction safety days (Scarlett has quite taken to adorning a hard hat as her workplace attire), to charity events, we’ve done them all and we enjoy our events as much as the guests – even if some clients do require picnic events (this does not count as another food reference!) with visits from the likes of Olaf .

When it comes to events though, there’s always one question from Laura… will there be Prosecco?

12) Of course PR (and office food) wouldn’t be anywhere near as enjoyable if it weren’t for all the TSP employees!

One thing you’d only know if you worked in the office is that we are the best colleagues and our days are made a little easier with each other’s company (and a bowl of Pad Thai: no prawn tails 😉)