The blurring lines between marketing, PR and social media, which have characterised the communications business over the past 12 months, look set to shape the outlook for 2017. Companies have a larger-than-ever mix of earned, paid and owned media channels at their disposal and our responsibility as communications professionals is to comprehensively advise clients and colleagues which channels suit their campaigns and why.

There may be many great channels to choose from, but it doesn’t mean that they will all work or that they should all be used. This can be challenging to demonstrate when it seems that “everyone else” is perceived to be using certain apps or investing in influencer relations, but decisions must be taken in line with your client or company’s business goals; no-one else’s.

Just as channels have evolved, so too have the tools we use to reach these. Press releases are no longer the primary tool to communicate ‘news’ when you have digital and social channels that rely on less text and more imagery. It also means that genuine influencers in your target market can have more power than the press release. As professionals, we know that the most effective opinion leaders are those with engagement among target audiences for our business’ and that this can mean a reach of 5,000 people is far more powerful than 500,000. However, it’s our duty to educate clients or senior management by taking the time to provide research for them to help make the right decisions.

Ultimately, whichever channels and tools you are using, the success of these will come down to the quality and suitability of your content – just as it always has. Content must be aligned with strategic business objectives and carefully planned to deliver value to the organisation. More importantly, we need to think audience first; our content development and channel selection should be driven by what the target audience needs and wants to know and the channels they use to consume news. In 2017, with the abundance of content and the need to cut through the clutter in today’s media space, this is more important than ever before.

By Anne Bleeker, Managing Partner, In2 Consulting