Predictions for the Communications ...


In the spirit of Johnny Carson’s alter ego Carnac the Magnificent, here’s my look into the communications crystal ball for 2010.

But before jumping in, many thanks to Todd Defren who was kind enough to run these predictions on his blog PR-Squared.

A Federal Trade Commission Investigation Will Evolve into Bloggergate

This year saw the FTC lay down guidelines that require bloggers to disclose if they receive money or products in exchange for writing reviews. I predict Bloggergate surfaces next year with company X ratting out company Y – $405 receipt from Morton’s serves as the smoking gun; those fine burgundies are darn expensive – bringing the FTC’s fist down with a vengeance.

Social Media Will Backfire on a Political Candidate

Since candidate Obama parlayed and the work of digital agency Blue State into a stay at the White House, every political candidate has embraced social media as the new black. “Hey, I can raise money without kissing another a baby or shaking another hand. Cool.” Unfortunately, like desktop publishing in the early days, social media in the wrong hands can go Dennis Hopper bad. Expect to see a feud with the spouse going public via Facebook and Twitter and pictures galore. The candidate gets trounced at election time while the spouse ends up on Larry King.

Michael Arrington Will Be Humble on April 1, 2009

No, really. Hear me out on this one. I think Michael has the guts to pull this one off. It’s the perfect contrarian play.

Journalists Will Pitch PR

The ever contracting traditional media leaves a number of journalists concluding “I’m not going to answer to the man; I’m going to be the man,” resulting in a zillion new blog properties. Once the euphoria of running the show dies down, then comes the realization that “congrats” e-mails don’t put supper on the table. To build out their ecosystems, these journalists try to pitch communication pros with strong social media followings and bomb. PR veterans Todd Defren and Brian Solis end up doing a webinar for journos on the importance of reading their stuff and tailoring the pitch accordingly.

Side note: The seed for this prediction came from Tom Foremski’s post “What Happens When PR People Have More Traffic Than The Reporters.”

The Master’s Golf Tournament Will Trigger Another Slew of Articles on
Nine-iron Tiger

Oh, the sweet irony as Augusta National serves as the backdrop for another round of tawdry stories on Tiger. Remember, this is the same place that banned CBS announcer Gary McCord for referring to the course as being as slick as bikini wax. You can figure the Master’s in early April delivers the right forum and time for the media to revisit Brand Tiger with charts illustrating the decline of his endorsement dollars. Of course, this also means every PR type and his mom weighs in with recommendations on how to rehab Tiger’s image while IMG opts to crowd source through a micro-site called

The Number of Social Media Monitoring Tools Will Crack 500

Virtually every Ph.D. student who can say algorithm and chew gum at the same time devotes their thesis to building a social media monitoring tool. Each is convinced he or she has cracked the code on the best way to capture every word, visual and action that transpires in this alternative universe called social media. These 500+ companies scamper to find a PR agency, creating a dotcom-like boom for the PR industry.

The Worst News Release of the Year Will Go To a Maker of Audio Semiconductors

Pressured by management who grew up on the Intel Inside campaign, the VP of PR for a semiconductor company which makes audio chips struggles to find a way into the mainstream media. After researching the biggest public events in the history of the U.S., the sleuthing turns up Elvis’s death and the anniversary of Elvis’s death in the top 25. Connecting the dots (or seemingly so), he packages the announcement of a new audio chip set as the Michael Jackson Limited Edition, timing distribution of the news release on June 25, 2010, the anniversary of Michael’s passing. Not good.

The Communications Profession Will Gain the Spotlight, Thanks to a Best Seller

The heads of corporate communications for AIG, Goldman Sachs and General Motors form a club affectionately dubbed the MOB Squad for Merchants of Bailout. Christopher Buckley gets wind of the arrangement and sues for copyright infringement, alleging resemblance to his best-selling novel, “Thank You for Smoking.” After posturing from the attorneys – the headline “Bailout Brothers Seek Solace While Author Wants Bucks” is rich – both sides make nice. A book deal soon follows in spite of internal squabbling about who gets to play Nick Taylor.

I’ll leave you with this.

At the end of 2007, Forbes columnist David Dreman penned the piece, “Seize the Day.” After pontificating on the credit crisis, he wrote these words of advice:

“The safest plays are among the big banks.”

I can’t do worse.

Here’s wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous 2010.

Leave a Reply