Newscrafting and Trendspotting


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June 2012 Marian Salzman (CEO of Havas PR) presentation on Newscrafting and Trendspotting--What it is, and how it's done.

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Newscrafting and Trendspotting

  1. 1. Trendspotting and Newscrafting White Paper June 2012 @ erwwpr
  2. 2. Marian Salzman is CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America, and Euro RSCG Life PR. She has been called a lot of names (or at least descriptors), from “the corporate clairvoyant” to “Xena of the Zeitgeist,” and categorized as everything from a coolhunter to a trendspotter. Salzman was the only trendspotter in the world to whom The Independent (U.K.) gave a 10 out of 10 when it last rated the world’s top trendspotters, and Nielsen named her one of the “top five trendspotters in the world.” When Salzman unveils her end-of-year trends list, her media dance card fills up right away—recent highlights include clips in The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Forbes, PRWeek and Times Online (U.K.). Because of the accuracy in her reports and her media-friendly style, Salzman remains a go-to source for such outlets as Reuters, USA Today, The New York Times and “Good Morning America” throughout the year. Since taking the helm of @erwwpr in August 2009, she has instilled a trendspotting mindset among her team—not to predict the future but to anticipate it, decode it, harness its power, and tailor it for clients (and prospects) and their brands, and maybe even shift culture at the same time. “[Marian Salzman is] wonderful at tying it all together—not just looking five years out but making sense of the last 10 years. And it’s the breadth of topics that she can make sense of—technology, environment, business, entertainment—that’s amazing.” —Alison Fahey, former publisher and editorial director, Adweek @ erwwpr
  3. 3. What Are They Doing? Most people are satisfied with a simple answer to that question and then move on. And most curb their curiosity or focus it more narrowly to develop expertise in a special interest such as sports, medicine, online gaming, woodworking or cooking. But for the insatiably curious, “What are they doing?” is just one drop before a whole cascade of prodding and probing questions: Why are they doing that? Who else is doing it? What does it mean? Where did they get the idea? What will they do next? White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 3 @ erwwpr
  4. 4. For those of us who are insatiably curious about what other people are doing, there are, fortunately, some respectable careers where we can nose into people’s lives and get paid for it. Some become psychologists, some go into anthropology, some take the route of opinion research and some become journalists. Without a clear game plan to direct my nosy energies, I’ve cycled through all of those and found myself in trendspotting, an emerging discipline that’s perfect for the insatiably curious. Looking back over 20 years of curiosity, I see some clear patterns at work—not surprising, since recognizing patterns is one of the key skills of trendspotting. I’ve always been fascinated by watching people in real life as they go about their everyday activities: shopping, eating, chatting, working. Even before it was part of my job, I’d always tracked who’s wearing what and how they’re wearing it; who’s hanging with whom, and where, and what they’re doing; which brands are involved and which could be but aren’t. I’ve always liked to get people talking, both in person and online. And to be honest, I don’t just pick up information from my own conversations with people; a lot of it comes from overhearing other people talking. Sometimes it’s artful tuning in to the ambient talk around me, and sometimes it’s shoddily concealed eavesdropping. Anybody who has spent time with me will have seen my attention wander; it might be that I’ve just had an idea for work, or it might be that I’ve just overheard someone nearby say something that has grabbed my attention. I see my trendspotting work as having a lot in common with sociology and anthropology. But working in public relations, I also see a lot of overlaps with journalism; it’s no coincidence that many PR people used to be journalists. We have an awful lot in common, and in a media environment increasingly shaped by social media, our skills and agendas are going to coincide. As I will argue in this paper, PR practitioners can now best serve their clients by incorporating the skills of trendspotting into a new discipline: newscrafting. I know a lot of people get queasy at the thought of blurring the lines between journalism and PR, and I can totally relate to that. When I read a report on student debt or a new medical procedure or urban regeneration initiatives, I want the journalist’s best shot at the facts and a smart, impartial interpretation of what it means. What I don’t want is a journalist presenting a product or a corporation favorably (or unfavorably) because he or she has been paid to spin a story that way. So here is one clear boundary: Journalists are supposed to serve no commercial interests other than their employers’; PR professionals serve the commercial interests of their employers and of their clients. As the Society of Professional Journalists lays it out,1 journalists have an ethical duty to seek truth and provide “a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” As for PR, the Public Relations Society of America member statement of professional values2 says this: “We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.” White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 4 @ erwwpr “Thanks to the rise of social media, news is no longer gathered exclusively by reporters and turned into a story but emerges from an ecosystem in which journalists, sources, readers and viewers exchange information. The change began around 1999, when blogging tools first became widely available…. This was followed by a further shift: the rise of ‘horizontal media’ that made it quick and easy for anyone to share links (via Facebook or Twitter, for example) with large numbers of people without the involvement of a traditional media organisation. In other words, people can collectively act as a broadcast network.” —The Economist
  5. 5. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 5 @ erwwpr “Trends are about changes in style and taste. … Changes in style and taste do not just happen out of the blue. Only human beings can create changes in style and taste. And to the extent that we can understand human beings’ behaviour we can understand how changes in style and taste come about.” —Press release for Henrik Vejlgaard’s Anatomy of a Trend
  6. 6. Thinking Headlines Beyond the fundamental “who is paying” difference between journalism and PR, there are many similarities, and I’m not just talking about curiosity and gathering information. The raw material of journalism is news—new information, or new perspectives on familiar information. The same applies to PR. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 6 @ erwwpr
  7. 7. Journalism looks for information and angles that will generate attention-grabbing headlines; so does PR. Journalism aims to craft relevant information into interesting articles that will hold people’s attention and shape their opinions; so does PR. Journalism is being forced to adapt to a media environment in which consumers can quickly flit among outlets that satisfy their needs for information, entertainment and interaction; so is PR. Both journalists and PR practitioners have to know and do what it takes to engage the interest of their audience. However truthful and honest their output might be, if it’s boring it’s wrong. If their work doesn’t grab the attention of their audience and hold it, they are wasting valuable time and money; they are not doing their job. Journalists who don’t know how to engage people’s interest should seriously consider becoming academics, if they can find a college willing to employ them. PR professionals who just crank out press releases are in the wrong line of work; they should work in the corporate archives. In recent years, I’ve admired the work of journalists at every level, from heroic national figures such as my friend Bob Woodruff right through to the unsung and largely unknown citizen journalists reporting on local affairs for Patch. Sometimes I catch myself wondering where I would be now if I had stuck with my early interest in journalism. Looking around at the dire straits of many news titles and all the layoffs hitting journalists, I feel sorry for the profession and grateful that my trendspotting instincts took me into a line of work that’s destined to grow, thanks to another fundamental difference between journalism and PR: Journalists have to report on what’s happening, without becoming actively involved; as a general rule, they can’t create an event to report on, can’t make the news that they report. We PR professionals aren’t hamstrung by those constraints. There’s no ethical reason why we should not be actively involved in creating and crafting news. In fact, there’s every professional reason why we should be putting the best of our energy and ingenuity into being news creators and newscrafters for our clients. Our clients pay us to bring them to the attention of the right audiences and to create positive, fruitful engagement with those audiences. For brands and causes, the essential value of PR is increasingly coming from its ability to master the changing forms of news as traditional and social media intertwine. PR firms have a massive opportunity to go way beyond the old practice of pitching the news to become masters of newscrafting for our clients—a mix of putting out routine news in more compelling ways, creating news opportunities and coattailing relevant breaking news. Trendspotting is ideal for all these purposes. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 7 @ erwwpr Places to Devour Great Information Branding: Business: Content: Cultural happenings: Design: Events: Fashion: and Food: Health/medicine: Luxury: Men’s stuff: Music: Parenting: and Real estate: and Retail: Social media: Trends: Visual inspiration: Wellness: Youth:
  8. 8. “Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value. They’ll be the richest, the most successful, the most connected, capable and influential among us. We’re all publishers now, and the more we publish, the more valuable connections we’ll make.” —Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 8 @ erwwpr
  9. 9. Entertainment, Interaction and Information Rule From pretty early on in my career in advertising, I had little respect for the arrogant command-and-control mindset that prevailed across large tracts of adland. With just a few big broadcast media channels available, far too many advertising professionals thought they could treat consumers as a captive paid-for audience that could be brainwashed into buying stuff by sheer weight of media and repetition. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 9 @ erwwpr
  10. 10. I guess that mindset worked when prime-time TV meant something and audiences were passive and less savvy; it certainly funded plenty of high- cost productions and glamorous lifestyles. For many years, it was clear to me that the savviest advertising people and the smartest ad campaigns had an intuitive understanding of PR; they were so interesting and so insightful that they just couldn’t help but bust out of the straitjacket of paid media. They understood that it’s not smart to crank out commercial messages that bug people and are treated by consumers as more noise to be filtered out. They understood that they had to become part of people’s everyday conversations and part of the popular culture. Now five years into my full-on PR life, my trendspotter radar is giving me strong signals that the traditional Madison Avenue approach to marcomms will be history sooner rather than later. I’m not saying that creative images and copy have no place in the future. It’s just that mainstream 20th-century marcomms doesn’t call the shots anymore; it’s not the main event now and has no automatic right to top billing. Consumers decide who and what is the star. With megamultichannel TV and a virtually infinite choice of media content available 24/7/365 through interactive channels, consumers who are even slightly savvy are now in charge of their own media experience. They use technology to get less of what they don’t want (“Look at this” advertising) and more of what they do. And what they do want is the media trifecta of entertainment, interaction and information. The best output of classic adland can still score with consumers, but it must be created with an eye to living in social media and spreading through it. By social media I’m not just talking about Facebook and Twitter but also any online media that allows users to upload and share their content: YouTube, MySpace, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Flickr, Orkut, Spotify, Patch, special interest forums (e.g., parenting, medical) and millions of blogs. These and other social media are now front and center of attention because they give consumers personal control and anytime access to that winning mix of entertainment, interaction and information. The traditional mass media (TV, radio, print) that reigned through the 20th century is still the preserve of production-heavy set-piece marcomms. But the social media that’s grabbing so much attention in the 21st century is the new home turf of PR. Social media is where nimble PR professionals can apply their news smarts and trendspotting savvy to newscrafting for clients. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 10 @ erwwpr “I have seen the future, and it’s very much like the present, only longer” —Woody Allen
  11. 11. “Being part of the conversation is the key to this new world.… There has got to be a new kind of advertising where companies can get their products found and discussed, but not cause they shoved them in your face like they do in TV where they interrupt your football game to talk about shavers or beer.” —Author and tech evangelist Robert Scoble White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 11 @ erwwpr
  12. 12. News Redefined: What’s New and Relevant to Me The notion of news has evolved a long way. It’s no longer what used to be delivered by the paperboy every morning or by the TV anchor at a set hour every evening. Not only do growing numbers of Americans not get their news in those traditional ways anymore, but growing numbers of Americans have never in their lives gotten their news in those ways. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 12 @ erwwpr
  13. 13. The old-style network broadcast news has given way to 24/7 rolling news on the TV, plus online text and video. Print news titles that have managed to survive have mostly supplemented their daily paper edition with an online site that’s updated throughout the day. Web-only sites such as Mashable have pitched in to the news business as news curators, picking up news from sources online, posting links and adding their own commentary. In fact, people who are interested in getting breaking news fast will probably find it first online well before it appears in traditional news media. The pivotal moment for this trend was probably 2008-09. Within minutes of the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008, Twitter and Flickr were providing eyewitness accounts, photo and video of events as they happened.3 Then in January 2009 the extraordinary landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River was first reported on Twitter.4 And a few months later it was social media sites that spread the news and comments about Michael Jackson’s death.5 These events and many that have followed since (e.g., Iranian elections, Arab Spring) have created a self-reinforcing perception that social media is the place for the most up-to-date breaking news from virtually anywhere in the world. The trend is screamingly clear: More and more often, we’re learning of what’s happening in real time by Twitter. When Captain Sullenberger landed on the Hudson, I was less than a mile away and the TV was on, but my news tip came by tweet. When Whitney Houston died, I was clocking CNN, but I got the word ahead of its breaking news flash, again by Twitter. This is a powerful self-reinforcing trend. With mobile devices, anybody on the scene of an event has all the equipment they need to report and upload the latest, with text, photos and/or video— and that’s exactly what they do, encouraged by all the other people who have done it and gotten a few minutes of fame in the process. Professional news organizations can’t have reporters in every location where news might break, so journalists sign up to social media and keep an eye on the timeline. Consumers and news junkies like me who are interested in the latest news know that it tends to break first on social media, so when it happens they get it fast and spread it to their online contacts. As an old foreign correspondent friend of mine explained it: “When I was a wire service reporter in the 1980s, news would come to the nearest wire service bureau through stringers, local media or eyewitness. The bureau would send a short statement of the event (‘snap’) onto the news wire; this alerted news wire subscribers in newsrooms around the world, who would mobilize their own coverage to check and report the news. The public would get the news from news organizations.” White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 13 @ erwwpr “News is happening all around us, at every moment, and being broadcast before a live (and decidedly social) audience day and night. Now more than ever, PR types and media mavens need to work together and focus on the 24/7/365 nature of newscrafting. It is PR’s answer to integrated or 360-marketing practices in adland. If you’re still stuck telling stories, you had better start crafting them, celebrating our relationships with the media and getting collaborative, because the days of a one-way-mirror approach to getting the word out are long gone.” —Marian Salzman on, Dec. 26, 2011
  14. 14. Now the chain is a lot shorter and a lot faster: An event is witnessed by someone with a Twitter account who tweets it. It gets retweeted through Twitter and spreads fast; the public hears about it at the same time as news organizations. Social media have become de facto prime channels for breaking news about big events such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters. But this traditional notion of news comes through the same channels and on the same devices as people’s own local news updates (“Checkin line at JFK 3 is really bad today — computer system is snarled up,” “The Korean diner on Main is offering 25% off lunch today”) and their personal status updates (“Loving my new ride,” “The new JayZ is totally slammin’”). But who says that news has to be Big Serious Stuff about politics, crime, the economy and catastrophes? For consumers who use social media regularly, news is the new and relevant information that appears on their feed. Some of it might be Big Serious Stuff, some of it might be the latest on pop culture, some of it might be about their personal interests, and some of it might be gossip and comments from friends and contacts. In just a few short years, we’ve come to the point where all news organizations and all journalists have to take social media seriously, at least as tipoff services; they can’t afford not to. As far as I’m concerned, the same applies in spades to PR agencies and professionals. On social media we can see not only the news breaking (including news about our clients and their industries) but also how people talk about it; we can track the rise and evolution of trends as they spread; and if we’re doing our job right and crafting compelling news for our clients, we can engage consumers with content that offers what they love on social media: entertainment, interaction and information. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 14 @ erwwpr How to Become a Trendspotter 1. Scan the media systematically. Don’t forget to scan the research institutes and their press releases. 2. Identify, analyze and extrapolate trends. Focus on their nature, causes, speed and potential impacts. Guesstimate the density and the velocity of the changes. 3. Plan possible scenarios. Imagine the future, including opportunities and risks. 4. Consult experts and influencers. The best futurists do Delphi or expert polling. 5. Employ computer modeling. You don’t need to be Einstein, but use today’s easy supercomputing to create “what if” scenarios. 6. Simulate possibilities. Life is a battlefield, so play war games. If this happens, then what’s next? 7. Develop your vision. Put on your magnifying glasses and look at the big picture of the possibilities—and how can you set these goals and realize them. Amended from a list by the World Future Society.
  15. 15. “Social media’s key ability is that it enables you to get your message to your guests and consumers that was right for that week out into the market … Now! A traditional print message booked months earlier might not be the right message today as competitors and the economy change.” —Social media marketing blogger and consultant Jeff Bullas White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 15 @ erwwpr
  16. 16. Trends for Newscrafting We’re long past the days when trendspotting was a little left-of-field wackiness, when it was what my British colleagues used to call “a bit of a laugh.” Even so, there are still a lot of strange ideas about trendspotting, and many of them involve variations on whatever amusing references people can muster— crystal balls, tea leaves, tarot cards and the Delphic oracle are old favorites that are guaranteed to turn up. I sometimes try to set people straight about the difference between trendspotting and futurology, between spotting current patterns with implications for future strategy and making predications about the future. It’s true that I don’t shrink from talking about the way I expect things to evolve; it’s what interviewers and the public expect. Being spectacularly right is a great bonus, while being blushingly wrong is an occupational hazard; trendspotting is not for the fainthearted. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 16 @ erwwpr
  17. 17. Still, for the purposes of my agency, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR (which we now call @erwwpr), and its clients, trendspotting is not about predicting the future. Our trendspotting is partly about creating strategies that help our clients prepare for what’s likely so that they can get ahead of the crowd and shape events. It’s part of our innovative positioning as future creators; we focus on building brands by putting them in the center of cultural storms. Equally important for PR professionals is the pulling power of artful trendspotting—the capacity to open doors and feed newscrafting. It has evolved through the years from a “what?” through a “nice to have” to become a “must.” My co-workers have now thoroughly understood that as an agency an important part of our work is to call trends and to leverage them so that we can craft news for our clients and ourselves. With more than two decades of speeches and interviews about trends for newspapers, TV, Internet channels and conferences under my belt, I can guarantee that people’s appetite for trends news has grown and is still growing. One thing that makes trendspotters so irresistible for news professionals and consumers alike is that we notice shifts and changes in this hyperconnected, overloaded world of TMI, and we’re not afraid to have a shot at making sense of them. We draw attention to things that people might not have seen yet, or might have seen and not noticed, or might have noticed and not thought about. Sometimes the changes are happening in places where everybody is looking but just not seeing. That was what gave me the advantage with singletons in 1999 and metrosexuals in 2003. Sometimes the changes are happening in places and ways that are too new for people to notice or take seriously, like the Internet before it went totally mainstream; that’s how I was able to do online focus groups in the early ’90s, at a time when most people didn’t even know what online was. And sometimes the changes are happening in places where people have stopped looking, often because they’re heading in the other direction. That’s what makes fallen-off-the-radar places such as Detroit so interesting. Spotting trends and making sense of them for newscrafting requires a combination of focused and peripheral vision. Trends flagged by sharp-eyed greenhorn trendspotters risk being just bits of more or less interesting random information unless they are fitted into a bigger strategic context of implications and potential opportunities. Sometimes these puzzle pieces fall into place straightaway; other times, the connections are only evident in hindsight. This is where the peripheral vision and contextual awareness of experienced trendspotters comes into its own. For example, the live-in-the-moment alternative culture of surfing went from being a hot trend among sun-bleached youngsters on the West Coast (and my legendary former ChiatDay colleague Lee Clow) to becoming an enduring global mainstay. But the energy of ocean surfing was too irresistible to stay offshore. It spawned skateboarding, then snowboarding, which both became massive mainstream trends while retaining their young, edgy feel. The big trend common to all three is finding ways of going fast on a moving board, so we can expect new variations on the trend. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 17 @ erwwpr 5 Apr @4As Euro RSCG Worldwide PR's CEO Marian Salzman looks at how technology and "newscrafting" are reshaping Public...
  18. 18. “[T]here’s good money to be made in second guessing the future. At the same time, good money can also be lost getting it wrong. And the really big money? Well, that doesn’t come from following trends. That comes from people with original ideas who create trends. People with the courage to build something—and then see if anyone will come. For everyone else, being a fast follower is probably the next best option.” —Fast Company White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 18 @ erwwpr
  19. 19. Be the News The tools have changed, but the essential job of marcomms professionals is the same as ever: to generate awareness and an engaged following for our clients and causes. Back in the day, that typically involved some long, involved set- piece moves—either an elaborate advertising campaign with hefty media spend or a lot of patient schmoozing of news outlets for a PR campaign. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 19 @ erwwpr
  20. 20. Now brands and causes have a smart new option. Marcomms as newscrafting costs a lot less than Madison Avenue marcomms and has much more potential for leverage than classic PR. The big ask is that it demands a lot from its practitioners: creativity, originality, daring, mastery of social media, constant awareness of news and trends, and 24/7 responsiveness. It also demands clients that are willing to step up and be bold. As an agency of news creators, we say to our clients, “Don’t be in the news; be the news.” We love generating opportunities for them to do just that. Over the past 20-plus years, my interests have broadened from corporate brands to charities and social enterprises (the Bob Woodruff Foundation, One Young World) and to local development initiatives (Fairfield County Creative Corridor). As we found with trial-and-error newscrafting initiatives such as the PepsiCo Tweetup in 2009, social media is a great way to use trends to spark attention-grabbing ideas, develop them and amplify them fast, on the fly to craft running news stories for clients. Embracing trendspotting and newscrafting as strategic tools opens up a treasure trove of opportunities for PR professionals and their clients. Develop a reputation for them, and you can expect dozens of speaking opportunities every year that will raise your profile and generate further interest, opening doors and generating conversations. Devote time and attention to curating trends—sifting through all that TMI, collecting the good stuff, putting it into context—and you will always have the raw material to craft news and command attention. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 20 @ erwwpr “As I glanced back at Next [the best-selling 1999 book I co-authored called Next: Trends for the Near Future], I found we were talking a great deal about hyperlocalism, and how newscrafting would become a local love affair—proved out these many years later with Patch and every local website, and with many of us turning to our extended social networks to find out about the weather before turning on the TV news. It’s amazing how true this one rang; we even mentioned that advertisers would have the chance to get hyperlocal, too (hello, search engine optimization and custom messaging).” —Marian Salzman on the Huffington Post, Feb. 28, 2012 Three Must-Reads Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 2011). The truly greatest trendsetter of all commercial and design times, Steve Jobs, is the focus of this biography, based on 40 interviews conducted with him over two years. The strong forces of personality and intellect spring from the pages, as does his mortality and emerging awareness that success as a human being as well as achievement at his life’s work will get factored into the ultimate life report card that he’ll be handed when he passes on. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). The author, winner of a Nobel prize, takes the yang to Gladwell’s yin on intuition and argues that we make choices in business and personal life and when we can and cannot trust our intuitions. The Start-up of You, by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha (Crown Business, 2012). LinkedIn represents the best of the new social, which is a life of blurred life and work, and of constant connectivity. This book, by Hoffman, of LinkedIn, and Casnocha, is a guidebook to managing your career, Brand Me, as if it were a hot startup business.
  21. 21. “[A] firm that defines its purpose in terms of public relations in the historic sense will embrace new forums for conversation and new forms of content for what they are: wonderful and effective news tools that enhance and facilitate the process of building deeper, more enduring and mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their stakeholders.” —Paul Holmes, the Holmes Report White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 21 @ erwwpr
  22. 22. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 22 @ erwwpr A Trendspotter’s Timeline Here are the key trends I’ve spotted and analyzed, debated and promoted over the last two decades: In an age of intrusive media coverage, how much longer could brands justify paying a fortune to celebrities (known to cynics as “hire a liar”) to use the brand? Still, Hertz seemed to be bucking the trend with its man O.J. Simpson—until he took off in a white Bronco and kept my trend on track. (After realizing, duh, of course they are, it morphed into “It’s America Online!”) Hence our powerful consumer launch of America Online. More than 18 years later, is America ever not online? Big brands didn’t anticipate that people could worry about what they eat and even fear their food. Then cows started acting mad and food angst went mainstream. Suddenly it became sane to look hard at the corner diner’s egg salad sandwich and ask where the eggs were hatched. And now food brands scramble to satisfy our demand to know what’s organic, local, free-range, shade-grown, fair-trade, line-caught, sustainable…. (I remember sitting in the dining room of Nestlé in Vevey, Switzerland, in 1996 trying to persuade its then president that this trend would turn food marketing upside down. He looked at me like I had three heads and a long beard. I gave up. That’s me: always early to the party. Some people don’t appreciate us when we get there too early.) “Once upon a time, farms were pastoral places close to nature, and the ability to obtain healthy, safe food was a given. In our high-tech agribusiness world, though, the innocence of food is vanishing fast. Recent outbreaks of foodborne illness have shown that simple plants like lettuce and spinach can harbor deadly germs. And the use of antibiotics and hormones in animal products also raises weird-science fears.” —Redbook
  23. 23. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 23 @ erwwpr For many years, “Think globally, act locally” had been one of those ideas that made sense. By the late 1990s, the idea was gaining enough traction to create action. Now the buzzword is “hyperlocalization”—increased concern over what’s going on in our immediate communities but with heightened awareness that those communities are intimately connected to the wider world. Nor is it modernization or Westernization. Americans tend to think that when other countries develop and modernize, they want help and encouragement to become just like the U.S. This mistake accelerated a trend of pushback against American power plays. Have U.S. popularity and status ever felt as precarious as in the past 15 years? Bondi Beach is one of the dream spots of the world, and the iMac in Bondi Blue was great foreshadowing of Millennium Blue. It became the color that changed fashion in clothing, technology and décor. While Y2K turned out to be a false alarm that was soon forgotten, we’re still living with hues of Millennium Blue. Married with kids was no longer a safe assumption. Women were marrying later and the whole dynamic of dating and mating was changing. We looked for new ways to game the laws of the fertility gods and to find Mr. Right. Online increasingly proved to be just right for women. Today, one in eight American couples marrying met on the Internet and people with fertility problems can shop for sperm and/or eggs there. “[G]localization [is] the process of stripping locality of its importance while simultaneously adding to its significance … The time has come to admit that it has arrived there: or, rather, that it has brought us (pushed or pulled) there.” —Social Europe Journal “Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women?” —The Atlantic
  24. 24. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 24 @ erwwpr By the early 2000s, men who cared about their grooming and moisturizing regimes were firmly in the mainstream. In 2003, I flagged the trend, repurposing the term “metrosexual” (coined by Mark Simpson in 1994) and triggering a global tide of media coverage. Cue the yang to the yin of metrosexuality: Recently young men in fashionable precincts (Williamsburg, Brooklyn; the Mission in San Francisco) have taken to sporting lumberjack beards and learning to hunt. In the pre-digital age of pen and paper, it was “Dear Diary,” but that impulse has transformed into “Hello, World” thanks to blogging. In 2004, “blog” was Merriam- Webster’s Word of the Year and I predicted that blogging would become a mainstream activity. Now, Technorati lists more than 133 million blogs in the world. “Google is to be reinvestigated over new claims that it deliberately collected personal data, including emails and passwords, while it was capturing images for its Streetview Maps service in Britain.” —The Telegraph “I’m intrigued about the use of the term metrosexual. In Britain, the word is fairly innocuous and is merely a synonym for ‘well-groomed,’ although in a city like Middlesbrough, it’s used more loosely and is applied to any man who has changed his underwear in the previous week.’” — I worried that the Net was driving a spying trend, making it possible for private eyes to run background checks, satellites to document indiscretions, and parents to use camera surveillance to watch their kids in their own homes. Now we can buy background reports online for $9.95, Google Earth has photographed everything, nanny cams are commonplace and privacy is one of the biggest words in discussions of our virtual world, from Facebook policies to FTC regulations.
  25. 25. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 25 @ erwwpr In an ideal world, bed is a great place for sex and sleep, but in a hyperactive world of hectic lives, a good night’s sleep was something more often desired than actually enjoyed; as I pointed out, sleep had become the new sex. (The Economist quoted me on this in 2007—oftentimes I will talk about a trend for months before mainstream media picks up on the sighting.) “Sleep is the new sex, reckons Marian Salzman, a New York advertising executive and author of Next Now. In hectic lives, sleep is at a premium. And sleep sells, whether it’s flat beds on airlines, sleep consultancy or a nap at MetroNaps in the Empire State Building. In America, growing numbers of couples are installing ‘sleep chambers’ to give them a sleep-alone option as well as a sleep-together option. Why suffer from a partner’s snoring? People are ‘finding it harder to do the sharing thing,’ says Ms. Salzman.” —The Economist, Nov. 15, 2007 “Now [Salzman] sees the trend of ‘radical transparency.’ At a large media conference in London, where all the other speakers were obsessed with ‘monetization’ (making money from the Web), Salzman spoke of how the Bebo generation are happy for their lives to be transparent, and think that anything not put in the public domain is a shameful ‘secret.’” —The Irish Times, May 5, 2008 Data is committed to digital form. There are new points of connectivity and a record of everything. The net effect is an increasing acceptance of living life in the open. In a world of intense media scrutiny, it’s wise to assume that determined diggers can unearth the most guarded information: No secrets will be safe. While older generations are wary, younger people—weaned on the Internet, celebrity culture and antiterrorism scrutiny—pay less heed to privacy issues. As product choices and competition increase, consumer loyalty to brands is eroded. Five major factors are driving consumer promiscuity: commoditization, when companies quickly find ways to make and sell similar products for less; outsourcing, which eats away at the personal connection; brand inflation, which arises when marketers dream up brands before they think of the product; rapid innovation, meaning more choices and fewer reasons to prefer one brand over another; and improved information, which allows consumers to look beyond the veneer of hype and packaging to see what’s on offer.
  26. 26. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 26 @ erwwpr The era of limitless clean water supplies has come to an end. It has been suggested that water could be traded on futures exchanges as other sources are now. There are a few alternatives to oil but none to water, and that’s scary. Over the next decade, expect to see water management and conservation rise on government and corporate agendas. As travel becomes more of a hassle and high-powered interactive media delivers global content wherever you are, the balance of interest tips away from “somewhere else” to “where I am now.” It’s a factor driving the growing appeal of local. Consumers want the wide world and their global brands, but they also value their individuality. “Target and Wal-Mart Stores may be the biggest mass merchandisers in the country, but both believe business results can be improved by acting small—that is, tailoring what they do to individual communities and shoppers” — Even scarier than the subprime crisis, then and now, is the prime crisis, in which borrowers with good credit and traditional, thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages, and even people who own their homes outright, are also feeling the pinch. Byproducts of the prime crisis are the rise of short-selling and the end of believing your identity lies in a good credit score. Children are increasingly exploited as prime-time props or pawns, and everyday people are rebelling against it. Early examples of those on the “to be watched” list were Jon, Kate and their eight, and “the balloon boy” family; those families illustrated that the American opportunist had gone from empowered fringe to media freak show. Although we tuned in, we weren’t turned on by their parenting.
  27. 27. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 27 @ erwwpr This “brain health” movement includes scrutiny about radiation from cellphones, helmet safety, traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Poll after poll shows large numbers of Americans don’t believe the basic science around things like cellphones, and marketers need to take fear, uncertainty and doubt seriously; the cellphone debate, far from going away, is going to take off. Expect near-term legislative debate about cellphone use by people under age 14. Couples who are part of the pandemic of splits for people over 50 (the face of the movement might be Al and Tipper?) might acknowledge a failure, but they’re also looking for life, part two, and a fresh start. “We know the names—Octomom, the Balloon Boy parents, Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight children, even Bristol Palin. They, and many others, represent a new shortcut to achieving celebrity: a trend prominent media analyst Marian Salzman defines as ‘children as prime-time accessories.’ In this scenario, people will increasingly use their children in bizarre, shameless and sometimes unethical ways specifically to gain notoriety and then will take one step further to brand themselves as the official representative of that notoriety, which means a steady income and a guaranteed spot on the cluttered but competitive media landscape. Ms. Salzman says that while reality television is a culprit in encouraging this extreme behavior, the problem is ‘much more serious. I think we’re living in a social-media age where anything goes and everybody has a space. So you’re seeing people being a little bit more uninhibited,’ she says, adding that even if it is a trend, that makes it no less disturbing: ‘We have to go back and we have to say, ‘No, we can’t do these things.’” —The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 8, 2010 One-third of counties in the lower U.S. are at risk of shortages, and many seas, like the Aral, are basically drying up. So there’s no business like flow business, and there are big opportunities for businesses to roll out water-efficient products and policies.
  28. 28. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 28 @ erwwpr People are disengaging with real humans to engage online. The new social interrupts physical interactions; in 10 years will all social interactions be through technology? For businesses, the more that technology mediates social interactions, the more opportunity there is to make money with software and services that enhance the interactions. Watch our return to brutal honesty. The widespread condition of “Everyone gets a medal” is seeing a backlash evinced by books such as Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. We finally realize the great ugly truth: Americans are golden retrievers in a world of Rottweilers. Consumers are becoming more interested in the concept, so brand messaging will need to locate the sweet spot between hype and brutality. Also known as bloated white men, this is a condition of sullen disenfranchisement and unemployment among the typing-impaired. In this “mancession,” the Daily Beast reported, “The same guys who once drove BMWs, in other words, have now been downsized to BWMs: Beached White Males.” Metro: What’s going to be the next subculture in [the land of consumerism]? Marian: The so-called “anti-social social butterfly” [the antithesis of the social butterfly]—a person who is not very social in real life in a face-to-face situation, but who has collected immense numbers of followers in the online world. Through this space, it’s a chance for that type of person to be overly aggressive. —Metro, Jan. 4, 2011 “As more men either share or relinquish their role as primary earner in households, they may feel the same threat to their sense of self as women historically have. In addition, as more men take on child-rearing responsibilities, they may feel inadequate and overwhelmed, fertile ground for depression.” —Time
  29. 29. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 29 @ erwwpr Endnotes 1 2 3 i-attacks-Twitter-and-Flickr-used-to-break-news-Bombay-India.html 4 plane-crash-Twitter-breaks-the-news-again.html 5 weight-of-michael-jacksons-death/ Photo Credits page 3: (from left); bburky: kk+ page 5: page 6: page 8: page 9: page 11: page 12: Hook page 15: page 16: page 18: page 19: page 21: Goddard Space Flight Center pages 22-27: Trends for the Near Future, Marian Salzman, Cannes International Festival of Creativity 2012
  30. 30. White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 30 @ erwwpr This white paper is the latest thought leadership pursuit by Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, which we now call @erwwpr because we are an agency of news creators who are all about what’s important in our culture and industry right now: social media’s shaping of the media environment. (We’re also best at shaking up with what comes next, and we own the hashtag in our campaigns and agency initiatives, so our Twitter handle just seemed right for our reinvigorated brand.) Through research and analysis in all of our white papers—covering topics from political campaign spending and the future of men to millennials and love in the age of social media—and other thought leadership endeavors, we are addressing topics that are not only imperative to our clients and our own growth but are also driving news about the future. The studies are places to listen and learn. They’re propelling momentum for companies, brands and causes. They’re satisfying the new value exchange, where consumers want brands that listen, converse and enable them. In “Newscrafting and Trendspotting,” we’re discussing strategies for getting to the future most successfully. Why would we look at trend sighting and news creating to do that? To: • Identify the forces driving the future and plan for long-term success • Discover unexpected opportunities that help transform brands and businesses • Provide insight into the drivers of key business, consumer and social trends Spotting trends is big business for people in many industries who need to be thinking ahead, for themselves and their clients. In today’s fast-moving business climate, the people who get ahead are those who have their eyes on the future. @erwwpr most certainly does. Please join us in the conversation. Marian Salzman CEO Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America 200 Madison Avenue, 2nd floor New York, NY 10016 P: 212-367-6811 E: T: @mariansalzman