Problematizing and reviewing the issue of the concept and practices of Trends Communication is a great challenge. This is because it deals with a complex society, both in the categorization and understanding of the individuals that compose it. Not to mention the new forms of distribution and dissemination of knowledge and information within multiple networks.
Given the sense that we are in a period of market fluctuations, consumers; creative agents; brands and content producers have realized that they are facing a new “spirit” of work. However, at the same time they do not know what to do with the complexity and volume of information and data from new methods and research approaches. Here, the issue of content curation is not of minor importance.
Immersing in Trends Studies is to understand how dense the analysis of a mindset trend is. Especially considering factors such as the pluralization of individual profiles and, consequently, the idea of tribes and their social dynamics. More than this, to study mindsets is to be faced with an infinite equation of different variables and, therefore, it is important to be able to interpret and to categorize them. Thus, Trends Communication appears initially as a way of reflecting on the trends that are already part of the repertoire established by the great institutions of trends analysis. The major difficulty is to process the methodologies of every trends network, each with its communication practices and often contradictory and non-linear.
There are several initial questions to ponder so that we can understand the very complexity of the matter. First, it depends greatly on the purpose of each communication strategy. Moreover, the terminologies adopted within the universe of Trends Studies (such as Cool, or even Trends) are easily dispersed with the wildness of content produced by the most influential individuals and entities, ie, it becomes difficult to operate on the basis of the same concepts.
When we follow the logic of “sender (communicator) – medium – (public) receiver”, a doubt arises: when a company hires a trends analyst, this would not be, besides analysis, to prepare content that would ultimately be consumed, via a communication process, by a third party? This question bears our analysis to the extent that we have to think of specialized audiences (including clients) and the general public, or the masses.
Trends communication also has a business purpose. The materials produced here have the very definite purpose of making the company/study interesting from the commercial point of view and, therefore, may not meet a certain scientific rigor, depending on the publicity of the trend itself (although this is considered particularly dangerous). There is the danger of content-manifest, from videos to varied posts; in them, trends are packed in a discourse that seeks the public’s emotional attachment to what is introduced. Here, there may be one (or more) well-defined narrative designed to involve (almost “evangelizing”). In these spaces of action, there is no room for the presentation of methodologies.
If journalism implies an informative activity, spread through the various media (printed press, radio, television, online press, among many others), under this aspect, the term “Trends Journalism” could imply the dissemination of information relevant to the public domain in the most succinct, accessible and objectively possible manner. However, the credibility of the medium and content are issues to ponder. What is the product? trends insights. How to explain and disseminate this? Communication. What is the way to show credibility? Specifying the qualification of the person who signs the text, whether the professional, a journalist, an academic, or a strategist. The action is to translate the findings of a Trends Network in a dynamic way and generating a text capable of being associated with everyday life. What is worrying is that this way of spreading trends opens up powerful advertising gaps, since which is the brand that would not like to appear as a pioneer in a certain subject? Thus, if advertising enters this type of communication, the content – may or may not – start to get dubious. On the other hand, when we speak of “Trends Journalism” or “Trends Marketing”, we are led to believe that these are specialized branches that work in these specific fields of studies with the rigor and competence they deserves.
The preference points, in fact, to the term “Trends Communication”, since it is a more assertive approach to the problem, which is to make public the results of trends research, in addition to spreading the area itself. Nonetheless, It is understood that this term may be confusing in terms of the area of intervention. Considering the term trends communication, the form and content will depend on strategies that may vary according to its purpose (from a content marketing job – blogs, e-reports, newsletter, or others – to news peaces in a specialized publication).
In considering a perspective of mass communication of trends, there should be a clear and synthesized form, so that the public understands, identifies and sees the information as credible. Above all, it seems essential that communication must be clear regarding the substance and the presentation of concrete objects and sources that prove the information. Communicating trends in their most open expression allows them to provide individuals or institutions with relevant information from the analysis of the specialists in the subject. It does not mean that the one who communicates the trends has to be the analyst, since in most cases the communicator does not have the training or tools that have a Coolhunter, or a Trends Analyst. Hence the need to consider who this communicator should be.
We believe that the best professional to do Trends Communication will be someone who dominates the area, that has the necessary skills to decode, that is, to translate all the complexity of the study in a language accessible beyond the limits of the academy, without shallow and superficial content. Otherwise, such communication would not be credible enough, with the risk of generating only opinions, or predictions without much sense. It matters, whenever
possible and pertinent, to refer to the methodology used for the identification of the trend, its definition and presence in the sociocultural context, its manifestations and signals, insights and academic references relevant to the understanding of the trend.
The trends communication professional has to pick up on the materials provided by the trends analysis professionals, who conduct an examination of the day-to-day behavior of individuals and groups and who seek the spirit of the present time in which we live, making the language accessible, objective and targeted to the different audiences (companies from different branches, magazines, brands, advertising agencies, segments of a particular area, etc.). Many trends research professionals are also the communicators of the results. Today has become banal and difficult to talk about trends. Many websites and social networks use the word “trend” to describe everything that is actually “popular”, and even make lists of what is “fashionable”.
Does analyzing, detecting, and communicating trends involve much more? We know it means to observe human behavior, spaces and dynamics, for all can give indications of emerging new behaviors. It involves discovering the
projects or products (objects) that impact urban dynamics, observing the behaviors emerging from specific contexts. However exempt and competent the communicator is to write content, he may not have the tools to diagnose trends, but rather to convey to the world the major trends insights. If he has a background in the field of Trends Studies, then he may be a trends communicator, because he will be provided with tools that will allow an analysis with method and discipline.
We are currently working with shorter deadlines. Project teams are small and the expectation with delivery is immense. As such, or in addition, we must be attentive to the sweeping movements that direct society as a whole. The trends communicator goes into this context to help contextualize the main emerging topics. We believe that the process of identifying and communicating trends should provide a rich map about how can we appropriate its insights to the construction of a more cohesive, more assertive and even more responsible world.
In order to structure a text that communicates a trend, it is important to consider the following elements in the content to be produced:
i – Enter the name and description that defines the trend, referring where possible to methodology and the references of the applied analysis.
ii – Explain the present mindset and its manifestations.
iii – The analysis of the social, political and economic context in which the trend is inserted;
iv – Connect the trend to the spirit of time. What is changing and what is new? There is a rupture or a change? Where was this trend born? Are there Cool signals? What objects related to the trend?
Alongside the structure, there are other important points to consider:
– Language: the text should follow the language of the receiver, but with due rigor. The transparency in relationships and the approximation with the individual contribute to the construction of a dialogue, rather than the traditional monologue.
– Sharing: we are in the age of knowledge where information is widely shared, being a prerequisite for generating dialogue.
– Relevance: Trend reports, as well as other content, are widely used for strategies and concepts, but are also the first to be cut in the event of a reduction in funds. They are seen as interesting, but not always essential. It is necessary to show the real applicability of the information.
– Form: The form is essential for the assimilation of content. The busy schedule and the thousand daily meetings make it difficult to stop, read, and interpret content that is not urgent.
Therefore, more important than knowing how to explain and communicate the trend itself is knowing how to COMMUNICATE and SYSTEMATIZE the area of knowledge in which it applies. The trend should not come “loose,”
without contextualizing the origin and practices involved with the development of the knowledge.
Article proposed by the 5th class of the Specialization Post-graduate Course in Communication and Trends / University of Lisbon.