Organisations must adapt or get left behind


Each year we predict the five key communications trends and issues that we think will shape the year ahead.

In 2018, we believe many organisations will face a tipping point – they need to act now or it will be too late. Successful leaders will need to boldly embrace the need for this change, while staying true to their organisation’s core values.

Communities are driving fundamental change as they push for government, businesses and NGOs to align with their own values and social conscience.

Below is a summary of SenateSHJ’s Future Five predictions for 2018, or watch the video.


1. Strength in diversity

We will see leaders take stronger action on equality of gender, race and sexual orientation. Organisations will be expected to fully embrace and embed diversity in their organisational culture, and align their behaviours and moral compass to connect on a level that displays integrity and is genuine and human-centred.

2. The activism age

Ethical responsibilities and regulatory changes will continue to be a big challenge for businesses and government, due to a major shift in the risk environment – one of the key findings identified in SenateSHJ’s Reputation Reality 2017: Trans-Tasman perspectives on reputation and risk report. Forty-six per cent of Australian and twenty-eight per cent of New Zealand companies surveyed identified ethics and social governance as major triggers for reputational risk. The emergence of somewhat newer, and sometimes misunderstood, risks such as data privacy, cyber security, media activism and sensationalism are proving to be significant and pressing challenges for organisations.

Responding to this major shift in the risk environment will require organisations to take proactive risk management measures and adopt rigorous crisis and issues planning to navigate challenging and often unpredictable internal and external environments.

3. Trust in a truthless world

There continues to be a strong need for organisations to ensure they proactively build reputation and goodwill among stakeholders, something we identified in last year’s SenateSHJ Future Five 2017. As evidenced by the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer report, society is experiencing an underlying trust deficit towards institutions, business leaders and the media. People are seeking solace in smaller, niche communities whose values and beliefs more closely align with their own.

Where trust is constantly being measured, it has never been more important to make connections that remain relatable and relevant to stakeholders. It is essential to be in touch with prominent society fragments or ‘tribes’ that people and communities trust.

As more organisations use social media to connect with their stakeholders, they must take ownership in tailoring communication to suit their audience, as well as moderating hate speech and fake news through these channels. Organisations need to constantly invest in rebutting fake news – and building trust is the only way to achieve this.

4. Change or get left behind

Automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and fragmentation will provide opportunities and challenges for governments, organisations and broader society. There is a recognition that the pace of today’s communication and conversation is unprecedented, but many organisations are not responding quickly enough.

In a recent Microsoft study, 53 per cent of UK business leaders said their industries will face further digital disruption over the next two years. Despite this, around half have no formal digital transformation strategy in place, with many struggling to capitalise on their tech investments. Successful organisations will need to demonstrate agility, responding quickly and effectively to a constantly evolving world. Those that don’t will be left behind, buried in bureaucratic processes and procedures.

5. Integrity above all

Integrity is the common thread throughout these predictions – those business leaders and organisations who navigate fast-paced change and its challenges with genuine honesty and strong moral principles will be rewarded.

When it comes to our institutions, integrity is a quality we’re beginning to demand, as evidenced in our recent Reputation Reality study. And we’re seeing the same phenomenon play out with individuals too, as demonstrated by the recent sentencing of Volkswagen General Manager Oliver Schmidt to seven years in prison for his role in the company’s now infamous emissions scam.

Integrity is the critical ingredient in building trust, and organisations, governments, individuals and the media have a real opportunity to step up and stand out by demonstrating this quality we all value.

To discuss how SenateSHJ can assist you with your communication needs this year, please contact us.