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Six things every professional communicator needs to know for 2019

6th November 2018

Grayling’s global head of strategic services, Jon Meakin introduces the agency’s 2019 trends forecast.

For the past three years, Grayling has produced a look ahead at the key marketing and communications trends that we believe are most likely to shape our clients’ worlds, and our thinking, in the year ahead. And with three years of data to look back on, it’s interesting to see what we got right, what has taken longer than we expected to become mainstream, and what never really took off.

Remember 2015? Before Trump, before Brexit and a time when Prince and Bowie still walked the earth. Seems an age ago, now. So it’s funny to look back on our predictions like Video Killed the Radio Star and realize that back then, the use of video was still nascent, certainly nowhere near as widespread as it has become, with even B2B brand recognising its power. Then again, we also forecast The Rise of Dark Social, and while some brands have effectively embraced this, many communicators are still scratching their heads to figure out how to make the most of it.

Fast forward a year, and in our #7for17 forecast we were talking about the coming of age of social influencers, and The New Space Race, which highlighted pay-to-reach principles – both of which are now universally accepted as the norm.

And this time last year, long before Nike’s Kaepernick campaign, our #6into18 forecast predicted the rise of brands and corporations ‘Taking a Stand’ and much more besides, which is still only just beginning to be embraced by anyone other than those at the very forefront of corporate comms or experimental marketing.

What does 2019 have in store?

So what of 2019? The truth is, this gets harder each year. Not because there aren’t plenty of new innovations emerging each year – there are. No, it’s more because trends do not simply appear one year and disappear the next. They evolve over time. So looking at the trends we have identified for our 6x19 forecast, it is possible to see echoes of what has gone before. But there is definitely enough there to keep us all busy for the next 12 months or more.

We’ll be digging into each of these with a series of posts over the coming week or so, but here’s a quick preview:

  • Cultural Capital: This is where we see ‘Take a Stand’ being taken to the next level, and businesses with purpose tapping into and generating cultural capital – injecting value where they have reason and relevance, standing up for their core beliefs, and crafting lasting initiatives that help shape a future aligned with their principles.
  • Civil Partnerships: Here, mutual benefit is the order of the day. We see brands becoming more powerful with company - driving growth with innovative and unlikely connections that show personality, reach new audiences, and deliver something purposefully different.
  • Sound Waves: From voice activation and branded playlists, to original soundtracks and podcasts, companies are starting to create hands-free audio universes to connect with consumers and become part of the fabric of their everyday lives.
  • Medium Message: Marketers are beginning to capitalise on the unique properties of a material, channel, or platform, to integrate vehicle and message in novel and singular ways and control the context – for greater meaning, impact and trust.
  • Niche Work: As the attention battle intensifies, wise brands will think vertical to do more with less, by focusing on highly specific audience groups, creating advocate communities and galvanising fans to tell and sell their stories to their networks.
  • UX Everything: As brands become the sum of the experiences that customers have and share at every point of the journey, marketers need a design mindset to craft interactions that make life simpler, happier and more personal.

Keep an eye out for more blogs on our 6x19 series here, and follow along on Twitter using #6x19. And if you’d like to book a bespoke presentation of the trends in full, or a TrendStorm Workshop, please email


Grayling Team

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