Michael Stewart (center), VP, Ketchum, makes a point as Bill Imada, Chairman and Chief Connectivity Officer, IW Group, Inc. (left), and Julia Wilson, CEO, Wilson Global Communications (right) look on, during a panel discussion that followed the release of the first annual Relevance Report by USC Annenberg. The event took place at Wallis Annenberg Hall on December 1, 2016.
USC Annenberg / Brett Van Ort

What can you do today to embrace tomorrow?

Do you want to get a jump on the future?

Check out The Relevance Report.

With Fred Cook’s leadership, the USC Center for Public Relations takes a fascinating look at the future of PR and communications.

Whether your interests are media, communications, technology, brand, people or some combination, you’ll find innovative ideas on what’s ahead.

Global. Mobile. Video. Data. Emotion. These are just a few of the trend areas accelerating in the year ahead.

“Try to learn something about everything, and everything about something,” scientist Thomas Huxley said in the 19th century. This report leapfrogs you through the first part of his timeless advice.

You can leapfrog through the second part by picking one area to go deep. Read and view as much as you can on the subject. Share what you’re learning.

“All of us must embrace the concept of continuous learning,” Bob Feldman describes this in the report, “to keep pace with the unprecedented change transforming our profession.”

The biggest learning for me? The parallel and seemingly paradoxical rise of data and emotion as drivers of influence. Data drives better decision making, while emotion influences people’s opinions and behaviors.

Both areas are critical for communicators to understand and to use ethically and appropriately in advancing our stakeholders’ interests.

In addition, technology has given time a new construct.

“The digital age has transformed time from past, present and future,” Heather Rim says in the report, “into a single flowing now.”

And now is the time to learn. For more evidence, and yes, an emotional appeal, look to Thomas Friedman’s new book, "Thank You for Being Late." It’s “an optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of acceleration.”

“Today’s American dream is more of a journey than a fixed destination,” he writes, “and one that increasingly feels like walking up a down escalator.”

“You have to walk faster than the escalator,” he continues, “meaning you need to work harder, regularly reinvent yourself and engage in lifelong learning.”

This is what Annenberg gives us. Beyond the knowledge we gained from our degrees, we learned how to think.

Annenberg makes us lifelong learners. The Relevance Report is a prime example.

What are you learning about? How does Annenberg help?

The Relevance Report gives timely insight into trends that will impact society, business and communications. It features thought pieces from communications leaders who identify the issues, ideas and innovations that will be relevant to the communications industry in 2017.

Caroline Leach is a proud USC Annenberg Alumni Ambassador with an M.A. in Communications Management. She’s a Marketing VP at AT&T and a former Communications VP at DIRECTV. She loves helping people tell their stories, and she blogs at carolineleach.com. Opinions are her own.