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Media, Social Media, Marketing & Technology Predictions for 2018 

Retailpocalypse, the changing nature of work in the gig economy, and more revelations about sexual harassment

As it has for the last 16-years, Birnbach Communications, Inc. (www.birnbachcom.com), an independent PR and social media agency, today issued its annual list of top media and marketing trends for 2018, which are influenced by consumers’ evolving social media habits.

“A number of trends from this year – like ‘fake news’ and concerns about artificial intelligence – will continue in 2018 but we also predict a changing media landscape and debates about how to prevent political interference on social media. We also expect 2018 will bring more revelations about sexual harassment, and hopefully, conversations about how to change the culture to prevent it from happening,” said Norman Birnbach, president, Birnbach Communications. “We develop the annual list to help our clients understand key trends that will affect media, marketing and technology over the next 12 months, so we can help them develop more compelling story angles and strategies to be effective.”

Here are five of the agency’s top trends for 2018:

  1. Expect to hear about “the retailpocalypse" as a key consumer sector tries to fight Amazonification. Consumers love to shop online for the low prices, unlimited selection, and fast, free delivery (if they have Amazon Prime or specials). But traditional retailers (including Wal-Mart, which recently dropped “Stores” from its name to boost its e-commerce cred) have to find new ways to compete. A retailpocalypse could cause far-reaching ripples into: real estate (there are more than 1,000 malls); advertising (a downturn in retailers’ ad buying would also impact media’s budgets); and employment (the sector lost 51,000 jobs in 2017).
  2. People will be more anxious and angry. The ‘60s may have been the Age of Aquarius but this decade seems to be the Age of Anxiety and Anger. One cause: screen addiction. Constantly clicking our smartphones for the latest news – and it seems that there’s continually breaking news – may help us feel we’re on top of the situation but it leaves most of us feeling more empty, worried and angry than before – despite political preferences. We anticipate more coverage on stress, anxiety, mental health and ways to de-stress, which includes taking a break from your device – aka a technology cleanse or digital detox – which is healthy and a good idea but may seem impossible to do.
  3. There will be a debate about whether or not and how to regulate Facebook, Google and Twitter. The concern is about the power of their algorithms to determine what we see, especially regarding political ads and the veracity of the news delivered to each of us. The three major platforms have not disclosed specifics but have committed to working to increase transparency and prevent completely false and irresponsible content from being perceived as real news. The underlying questions are: "Has big tech gotten too powerful?" and "Can the major players truly clamp down on the false narratives spread on their platform?" and "How can Congress find a way to regulate them to prevent it from happening in the future?" Expect Congress to continue to hold hearings on the subject – just don’t expect any agreement on the answers before 2018’s midterm elections. (Net neutrality, another issue that also involves big tech, will be an additional source of debate and contention.)
  4. The labor shortage and the gig economy will spark think-pieces about the nature of work. The media will examine the nature of work in the age of a gig economy, including whether it’s a temporary arrangement until a full-time job comes along or a side-gig to supplement primary salaries. Also look for articles about rethinking the social safety net and the future of unions for gig workers who may not get minimum wage, unemployment benefits, employer-contributions for workers’ comp, social security and Medicare, among other benefits.
  5. Conversations about gender, sexuality and sexual harassment have changed – at least in the media. We’re in the midst of a necessary and significant societal change, and hope that the conversation will deter sexual harassment, and cause toxic cultures to reform, whether in the office or elsewhere. While a post-Weinstein mentality has certainly affected the media and entertainment worlds, we will know if there are long-term changes if men in other fields, like banking (not just VCs) and politicians (not yet named), are resign or are forced out of their positions. Meanwhile, gender and sexuality issues will continue to generate coverage, whether about bathrooms, pronouns or other ways to be inclusive.

The complete list of more than a dozen predictions is being rolled out on the agency’s blog, PRBackTalk: blog.birnbachcom.com or check out bonus predictions here.

Tell us what you think. Did we get it right? Are we way off base? Drop us a note at birnbach [at] birnbachcom.com.

 
 
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