What did 2017 mean to area communicators?  The short answer is that it was another year of change, with the continuing exit of traditional tools and techniques replaced by a constantly changing and unpredictable future.

The more in-depth answer may be that it was another year in which communicators were placed in the uncomfortable position of having to stay current with an overload of options while, for many, having to predict ROI during a period when audiences, across the board, are changing. Equally challenging is that management of organizations continue to seek the advice and counsel of their communications staff while many communicators still have yet to grasp the profound changes currently underway.  Of note, we reviewed our readers’ interest in the many posts we added during the year on the Capitol Communicator website and saw that conferences – including the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit and our PR Summit DC – had a significant number of clicks, as communicators searched for resources that would help them cope in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

In addition, it was within the past year or so that we learned that social media had been used to try to influence elections in the United State and abroad.  Looking forward, how will social media entities adjust their products to exercise more control over their content?

2017 was also a year when we saw elements of the traditional media make a robust resurgence – specifically The Washington Post and The New York Times – as they now view the world as their audience. In fact, two of our three top-read posts were related to what’s happening in the media. (It is important to note that there are other media trends underway, such as the creation of automated stories, which are written by “machines”; reduced staff at many media outlets and some media outlets paying less than in the past, resulting in employees with fewer years in the news “business”.)

There are also fundamental changes in how society’s priorities are shifting and that will have an impact on communicators – and every other element of our society.  Perhaps the most dramatic example is the response to the growing number of sexual harassment lawsuits and society’s efforts to address this problem.  In one of the most recent examples, the highly touted Martin Agency in Richmond just announced that the new head of the agency will be Kristen Cavallo.  The move was made after the departure of chief creative officer Joe Alexander amid a series of sexual harassment claims.  Cavallo, we predict, will be part of a wave of women who will be named to top leadership posts throughout the communications community. Of note, a 2014 report showed that women make up 63 percent of public relations “specialists,” according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and 59 percent of all PR managers. (One of our most-read posts focused on MSL Group supporting a HealthyWomen debate on the Hill.)

But, the biggest draw for Capitol Communicator readers continues to be related to interesting people in communications.  Cade Martin’s “up close and personal” profiles have a large following and, to date, we have posted considerably more than 100 profiles where people detail the lessons they learned in life and offer advice they want to pass along to others.  And, you can find them, logically, under “Profiles”.

Finally, during the year Capitol Communicator was recognized as one of the top business-to-business websites in the U.S. at the prestigious Folio: 2017 Eddie & Ozzie Awards, recognizing the industry’s best achievements in editorial and design in the category “B-to-B Website – Design/Advertising/Marketing,” Capitol Communicator received honorable mention along with Hanley Wood’s Architectural Lighting and BNP Media’s Architectural Record. Adweek took top honors in the category and we are flattered to be in such good company.

As we look to 2018 our focus continues to be to create a forum where you can find the information you need to stay current with the sea changes you face every day.  It remains a challenging task for all communicators!

Stay current. Stay curious.  Stay informed.

Have a happy 2018!

From Paul Duning, publisher, and Phil Rabin, editor.

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