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
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?
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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
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.”
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“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.”
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“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
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.
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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
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.
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Places to Devour
Cultural happenings: flavorpill.com
Fashion: polyvore.com and
Men’s stuff: acontinuouslean.com
Parenting: scarymommy.com and
Real estate: zillow.com and
Social media: mashable.com
Visual inspiration: pinterest.com
“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
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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.
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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
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.
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“I have seen the future, and it’s very
much like the present, only longer”
“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
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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.
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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
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.”
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“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
mariansalzman.com, Dec. 26, 2011
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.
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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
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.
“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
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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.
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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.
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5 Apr @4As
Euro RSCG Worldwide PR's CEO Marian Salzman looks
at how technology and "newscrafting" are reshaping
“[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
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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.
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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.
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“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
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.
“[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
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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
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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
White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 24
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.’” —Worldsoccer.com
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.
White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 25
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.
White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 26
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
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
“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
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
White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 27
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.
White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 28
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
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
White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 29
page 3: (from left) creativecommons.org/SHAREconference; bburky: kk+
page 5: creativecommons.org/kk+
page 6: creativecommons.org/fomu
page 8: creativecommons.org/TheGiantVermin
page 9: creativecommons.org/barbourians
page 11: creativecommons.org/Dragunsk
page 12: creativecommons.org/William Hook
page 15: creativecommons.org/MDGovpics
page 16: creativecommons.org/vancouverfilmschool
page 18: creativecommons.org/gnuckx
page 19: creativecommons.org/likeablerodent
page 21: creativecommons.org/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
pages 22-27: Trends for the Near Future, Marian Salzman, Cannes International Festival of Creativity 2012
White Paper: Newscrafting and Trendspotting 30
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.
Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America
200 Madison Avenue, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10016