What does 2017 hold for content communication?

What does 2017 hold for content communication?

contentgroup predictions

2016 was a massive year for contentgroup as a company, and the communications industry (both public and private sector) more broadly.

We saw governments’ communication with citizens tested across the globe; in Brexit, in the US election and in the Australian census and saw governments manifestly fail to communicate clearly, engagingly and authentically each time.

The need for government to communicate with citizens in a way that is concise and relevant has never been more acute.

At contentgroup, in 2016 we changed our publishing strategy and the name of our methodology, we partnered with the ANU to develop the evidence base for the content communication method, bought scientists in to the team and worked on some truly innovative communications projects.

2017 is set to be even bigger.

As is contentgroup tradition, we’ve asked our people what 2017 holds for public sector communications. Here’s what they came up with:

David Pembroke, Founder and CEO: In 2017, “quality over quantity” will be embedded as best practice in content communication. Time is people’s most valuable asset, so content creators will at last appreciate they have to “earn” a share of their target audience’s time and attention. The way to do that is through publishing useful, relevant and valuable content that meets a need of your specific audience over time.

David Polglase, Head of Consulting: Government will (or should) make the decision to slash large traditional advertising budgets and put more budget towards digital. People don’t engage with large advertising campaigns anymore and will only engage with content that gives them value. Not only will this save taxpayers money, but it will create better communication and program results. Watch this space.

Sophie McKerchar, Head Content Strategist: Government communicators will start to see the benefits of using third party distribution and will increasingly leverage their industry partners and other third party stakeholders to connect with their target audience.  And the average age of those working in content communication will plummet in 2017 as contentgroup welcome on board their youngest content strategist in the form of baby McKerchar!

Ben Curry, Head of Production: 2017 will be the year that traditional media organisations seriously invest in breaking video news for mobile devices. They will take the “fake news” sites head-on in the battle for viewers.

Lydia Stevens, Public Relations Consultant: In 2015, CISCO reported that video traffic accounts for 70% of all consumer internet traffic and predicted that by 2020, every second nearly a million minutes of video content will be published to the internet. Content communicators will need to work out how to produce video quickly, cheaply and on-message and increasingly prioritise video above audio, text, graphics and stills content. 2017 will see communicators realise the true value of the stupidly high-quality camera on their smartphones.

Sam Doyle, Senior Content Strategist: 2017 will see the public sector invest in more stakeholder engagement activities with existing audiences. They will start to implement more measurement and evaluation techniques to determine what works best and then use this data to refine practices to ensure audiences keep coming back to them as the single source of information. They will also place more emphasis on developing strong, compelling narratives to underpin all communication and engagement activities and to clearly tell their story.

Sarah Nuttridge, Office Manager: With the recent Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Paris, and movements in Digital Transformation, I foresee a substantial forward movement in government content communications globally, and a drive to make interactive media citizen and stakeholder friendly.

Sarah Ferlitsch, Content Strategist: 2017 will see more and more government organisations start implementing creative social media strategies, including the regular use of features such as Instagram video stories and Snapchat geofilters.

Hillary Lang, Graphic Designer: 2016 has been marked the period of a post truth world and in order to combat this, government will work to be more transparent and create content that doesn’t beat around the bush, but instead gets straight to people’s attention.

Elle Wolfhagen, Senior Content Strategist: We will continue to see a rise in government releasing non-sensitive public data for private sector innovation. It will be up to the private enterprise to make best use of this information but significant potential exists, particularly for those of us working in communications. A relevant example is Community Insight Australia – a mapping, analysis and reporting tool allowing organisations to better target services based on indicators specific to a location, such as crime, health, economy, education and skills.

Olivia Porter, Senior Content Strategist: Getting consumers to like, share or comment on content will no longer be enough in 2017. People want to be able to participate on a different level and documents which feature interactive elements such as video, maps and surveys will be successful in encouraging them to be more engaged in the consultation process, particular in the public sector.

Bonus Pemby prediction: With an eye on the results of the Brexit referendum and the US Presidential elections, governments and civil society organisations at a national and sub national level all over the world, know that the rules of the communication game have changed and people are no longer listening. In order to retain influence, they have to find a better “evidence based” way to get the message through. They now accept that the traditional communication levers of media relations and mainstream advertising are increasingly ineffective and the path to salvation is “content communication”. They will appreciate the power and utility of becoming “the media” in support of their policies, programs, services and regulations is now available and they will go direct to citizens and stakeholders and build trust with them through the publishing of useful, relevant and consistent content over time. 2017 will be the year that government climbs aboard the content express.

How do you see the industry evolving in 2017? Let us know in the comments below!


Lydia holds a Bachelor of History from the University of Sussex as well as a Masters in History (Genocide Studies) from the University of Amsterdam. Her communications experience includes working in the not-for-profit, public and now private sectors. Fortunately, given her chosen career path, writing is her absolute favourite activity (especially when flanked by a coffee and a dog).

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