‘Fake news’ grabbed all the attention in 2017 in more ways than one. How will the sector react now and more importantly, are you ready?

1. Traditional media ‘ships up’ or ‘ships out’. Some media will work out that their new role is not that of provider of information, but of sifter, curator and qualifier. And that bloggers and ‘thought’ or ‘opinion’ leaders are invading this space. A few brands have already figured this out, that what the media landscape dispenses is not information, but credibility.

On the flip side of this trend, brand journalism and brand media will increase proportionally as journalists go in-house at forward-thinking companies. Brand managers are waking up and realising that an audience-centric mindset will power their advertising and marketing efforts, so expect much more brand journalism.

2. Analytics will improve to the point where we can make valid, repeatable estimates of the ROI of X, where X is PR, marketing, social media, or the channel/tactic of your choice. Those brands and businesses that achieve this will improve their grasp of what’s working and what’s not. The code is pretty simple (but not easy): Get accessibility and visibility into all your data sources.

Companies and brands that have silos between different departments, different agencies, and different functions will face ever stiffer challenges from competitors who are smarter with their data and the insights they derive from it.

3. The ‘Internet of Things gets more real. It’s still very much the early adopters playing with the devices, but 2018 will see more adoption of the ‘Internet of Things’ as costs decrease and both accessibility and real-life examples that seem more relevant increase.

4. Media relations finishes transforming into media generation. Work will transcend the traditionally rigid boundaries of earned, owned, or paid media.

Media professionals should expect to see themselves blogging, working on content creation and content marketing, managing paid media campaigns, managing social media and mobile media channels, working with media purchases and display advertising, working extensively with brand journalists, helping inform search marketing, and generally going where the audiences are. Most importantly, they will need to focus on having an audience, having conversations with audiences, and having that audience be portable among different forms of media.

5. The backlash against content marketing will get louder. More companies will make really bad content and decide that the tactic doesn’t work (rather than realize they’re bad at it). The bar will continue to get higher and higher for what constitutes great content. All the brand journalists operating in-house will need ever-increasing supplies of great content.

6. The talent race will be tougher than ever. Creative and analytics skills, due to the trends above, will be in greater demand than ever, with a talent pool that’s smaller than ever.