What Does the Future Hold For Communicators? A Look At The Jobs of Tomorrow

What Does The Future Hold

This is the time of year that we tend to spend doing two things, we reflect on the year that has been and we make promises about the year to come. Since the stats are against us keeping our New Year’s resolutions, can I suggest instead that we think about the possibilities the future holds?

When I consider the future of communications I get excited about being in this field.  It is a sector that is growing and blossoming and the biggest challenge facing most communicators is the ability to keep up with the changes.  Of course even if you keep up you have to be able to discern between what’s worth learning and what can be ignored. Not as easy as you might think when new tools are constantly being added to the mix and when platforms that you’ve never heard of become go to destinations virtually overnight.

All of these changes mean the very nature of our jobs are also altering.  We can all expect that our future jobs will look very different from what we do today.  Just as authors now have to exist in a virtual world and communications means having dexterity in social media, we can expect to see changes across many different sectors as we all become more virtual. To satisfy my curiosity I went to the internet to look at ideas and I brought some back for you to consider.  What’s interesting is that some of the “future” jobs I found are things that people are doing today. The future is now.

Avatar Manager – This individual designs and manages holograms of virtual people.  Yes, that’s right, your personal brand will be a lot more complex in the future and your avatar will be the single strongest element of that brand.  Imagine the nightmares that would follow if your avatar was hacked?

Digital Architect – In this profession you design the settings where virtual retailers will sell their goods.  Rather than having consumers scroll through uninspiring pages of images, they will instead be able to “visit” virtual stores whose ambiance will matter as much as it does now, more so in fact since you should be able to achieve any setting you like in a virtual world.

Digital Media Planner:  This position already exists but perhaps hasn’t been fully flushed out into an individual job in most organizations. This is essentially a high-tech version of a media buyer. This individual scans the internet and determines what ‘s hot with who and what sites would represent good opportunities for clients.  They decide what kind of ads and what sites will best use your Internet advertising budget.

Personal Brand Manager:  I thought these guys already existed and in Hollywood they were called agents, but it seems this future professional does more than sell your talents.  The PBM will develop and manage your personal brand so that your avatar says does and looks just right and so that the only side of you that’s seen in the virtual world will be a good one.  This may require deleting bad internet press or drowning it in good positive stories about you.  I’m pretty sure these services are for hire today.

Social Media Strategist: This position is similar to the digital media planner, but is related to the thinking behind the decision to purchase.  The SMS helps organizations to develop a following on growing and fast changing social sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Although this is still predominantly an outsourced service, larger organizations are seeing the benefit of hiring in-house specialist to create everything from buzz about product to ad campaigns that are intended to be viral.

Web Analyst: This role is an expansion on the marketing role that already exists today but will become more important going forward. Since a lot of what organizations do in the virtual world is intended to drive consumers to their websites, it follows that you will need someone to look at the behavior of consumers once they get to your site. A web analyst will use customer information from the visits to your website to predict trends. This will allow you to build better informed advertising and communications strategies.

Omnipotence Delimiter: I personally think this one may be needed by some of our political figures right now, in fact I can think of a mayor who may be in need of these services. The OD’s job is to rein in our belief that anything is possible and we are all-powerful.

What do you think?  What jobs does your future hold?  Do you think these jobs are likely or that they already exist?


0 responses to “What Does the Future Hold For Communicators? A Look At The Jobs of Tomorrow

  • I lovе the kոowledge on your web site. Thank you so much.

  • My current role really is a mixture of almost all of the jobs outlined in your article. I think I was possibly ‘born for social media’. Just pulled out some old photo albums from the late 80s to find I’d captioned all my photos in much the same way I caption Facebook or Twitter posts now! Whatever the next ‘power platform’ that comes along – I’ll be there telling stories, interpreting, analysing, hopefully inspiring!

  • Olusanya Awosan says:
    January 17, 2014 @ 11:37 am

    Deep and creative thinking ;sharp imagination. From your submission, I conclude that the future is bright for the professional who can exhibit these qualities with which I have just described your
    submission .

    • Thank you Olusanya. I think we will need to be more creative than ever going forward or we will be lost in the sheer volume of pieces that will be posted, linked and pinned going forward.

  • I would like to think that one of these jobs would suit me, but I am not sure. I enjoy for the most part my blog, but really find the branding and social media side of things not enjoyable. I hope that changes, because this is the way of the future and you need to move with it.

  • Great writing and thinking – and this article itself seems aligned with the landscape you describe in a perfect way! Happy New Year! /Strategist-Curator-Copywriter-Connector-Maven 😉

  • Hi Debby,
    I must say o like what i just read. But the most interesting jobs for me would be the SMS and the Web Analyst. i would gladly take up either or both. Atleast now i know what areas to develop myself in preparation for the next few years, though the change in Africa is much slower than Euorpe.

  • Ah Debra, you come up with some great stuff. I need to visit here more often.
    These jobs are great and really a sign of the ever changing times. Although here in Europe they change a bit slower!
    I love that last one – OD, that could be used by a heck of a lot of people!
    have a great year

    • Thanks Ashley, I didn’t realize that there was much of a gap between North America and Europe on the social media front.

      The OD is one of my favorites too, I’d love to see the job description. 🙂

  • The Social media strategist is a job I already see folks hiring for, every company/organization is on a social media (some start ups have social media instead of websites…) and as easy it is to set up an account it can also be time consuming to interact with fans and followers. Web analyst is another position I see folks hiring for too, technology has really affected to way we “work” and “do business” wow I’m sure no one could have imagined this fifteen years ago. Did you know that social media actually outranks porn on the web?

    • The social media strategist role is starting to show up more and more. I believe I read an article recently that had the head of communications at Coca-Cola saying he wanted to get rid of the press release. Their plan was to focus on their social media vehicles. I had no idea social media had passed porn, I thought porn trumped everything online.

      • Nope it had not. Now people spend more time looking at social media than porn. But even most porn sites and actors/actress have facebook and twitter accounts, so ehh….

  • Great read Debra. I can see the role of comms teams changing rapidly. I see in-house teams shrinking and agencies growing. The role of the in-house comms person will be to set the strategy and then select the agencies we will partner with on each campaign who will deliver on the work. We will direct and oversee this from start to finish. That way, in-house teams remain scaleable and because of the huge variety in our roles we won’t need all the skills in-house. The most important skills for us to retain will be knowledge of the latest and best practice, plus strategic skills, people skills and the abilitiy to manage those agencies. It’s exciting times.

    • Interesting point Anna, essentially the internal communications teams might become specialized project managers. They would have to have a broad understanding of communications tools and approaches and as you say, set the strategy, then bring in specialists to help implement.

  • I love the idea of “Personal Brand Managers.” That actually sounds like a dream job for me. I find it very interesting to follow the new positions that companies/brands need as they evolve. Needs are going way beyond a “social media manager” or “public relations specialist.” Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Hi Debra; what a wonderful post, so much different than a lot of the other new years posts i’m finding in my inbox. i like the idea of an avitar creator and the virtual world sites. so, if i could hire one of those developers or if i could learn those skills then instead of a website with pictures video links and descriptions people could visit a three dimensional amusement park or carnival/fun fair midway. that would be so cool. any idea what kind of money would be involved. I’m guessing step one would be having your own server because i can’t see many of the web hosting companies offering the storage space and bandwidth something like that would require. and i think what you said about politicians is probably true. thanks again and take care, max

    • Thanks Maxwell, when everyone is looking back I can’t help but be curious about what’s to come. I love the idea of visiting a thee dimensional amusement park online. There are some 3D sites already so its just a question of time before they begin to proliferate the WebSphere. Then there is the Oculus Rift or Oculus VR video game player that takes it all to the next level. Things are just going to keep getting more interesting. 🙂

  • I’m so glad I didn’t choose the IT world as my career – It so overwhelms me. Although i think the job of an OD would be fun!

    • Jeanette, I DIDN’T choose the IT world, yet here I am thinking that I might as well have. 🙂 As technology marches forward I think there are very few sectors who won’t in some way be touched.

  • The omnipotence delimiter gave me a chuckle. I’ll bet something similar existed in the days of the Bible under some other name.

    I like Jon’s song: “Living in a virtual world and I am a virtual boy…” It took me a minute to remember those aren’t the real lyrics.

  • Agree with you that there are many exciting options in communications.

    But a huge problem is that an abundance of people all over the world are going to university to study to work with communications. About 90% of them will not be able to get a job, but still have their huge debts. One bad example is that about 4,000 new journalists graduate every year. And even with the positions and options you mention, there are far too many people who want to work in this field.

    • Couldn’t agree more. While I think that many more positions will be created, others will disappear. If you look at the job descriptions out there now for communications people they are a crazy conglomeration of what used to be many different roles. Given the diversity of responsibilities that are attached to the communications function I would much rather go into a job interview with 20 plus years of experience than with 5 years or less. That of course presumes that you have kept current as a communications professional. Not long ago the younger candidate with the most recent experience would have been the lucky one.

  • It just boggles my mind that not only do we have to worry about how we communicate and present ourselves in person, we also have to be mindful of how we portray ourselves online, whether personally or as a business. The job titles you mention above makes it so apparent how important digital literacy is. Now if the public education system would only enter the 21st century….

    • I also worry about what our kids will face. I can easily see how apprenticeships are going to become much more the norm going forward. The sad part is, they may also become more abusive with time simply because there are so many people competing for the same positions.

  • Happy New Year, Debra! What a great read. I’m one of those who is looking forward to what the future will bring. You need to keep up with the times, other wise, the world will pass you by. The only gadget I fought with all my heart, was the drum machine. We drummers were told to get on the band wagon, as we would not be of much use, nor in demand, within a couple of years. That was back in the early 80s. Well, we had the last laugh. I’m hoping that the new technology will be gentle, and usefull to the business world. As always, a great post. Blessings.

    • Thank you so much. At the end of the day experience is a great adviser. As long as we remain open to the possibilities I think our experience will help to inform us on whether what’s out there has value. I worry more about the young people who have to experiment in such a fast changing and competitive world.

  • A wonderful read to start the new year…I love anything that makes me think and arouses my curiosity. Evolution is now the speed of light, or so it seems and how it will be interesting to see this post next year to see what has come to be, and what has fallen by the wayside. Reputation managers already exist…though they are costly, depending just how far one’s reputation has been sullied. I agree that web analysts could soar, yet how does one vet such a person and what qualifies them? For sure, all of us will be navigating a super sharp learning curve!

    • Great questions Jacqueline. I remember years ago we wanted to hire a lead IT person but didn’t have a clue what that meant. In the end we hired a top IT project manager, but it was next to impossible to evaluate whether they were doing a good, great or indifferent job for a long time. In some respects that’s still true for many companies when they hire a social media manager. The numbers of likes a site receives doesn’t necessarily translate into increased sales and sales increases are not necessarily about your online behaviour.

  • I seem to find myself singing a modified version of an early Madonna song right now. “Living in a virtual world and I am a virtual boy…”

  • I agree with Diana. This is a very interesting read. The possibilities for new job creation as a direct result of the every changing online landscape it pretty cool! I do believe there will positions we haven’t even thought of at this point. For me it would interesting to see what the future brings. The one that intrigues me the most is the Digital Architect. That would be very cool thing to see in action. Happy New Year my friend. 🙂

    • Thanks Susan. I have to agree, the idea of walking through some crazy imaginary environment while shopping is very appealing. I would think we would eventually get to the point where we would choose the virtual stores where we shopped based in part on their ability to entertain us. If I went into a spectacular virtual underwater environment to choose my fish dinner, I would find that far more enticing than the usual walk through the smelly fish shop. 🙂

  • What an interesting post to close the year with – great read, Debra! 😀

    I find peculiar some of the positions you outline – avatar manager, really? I would love to see that in action 😀

    The digital media planner and the social media strategist are existing positions already, and quite popular if you ask me. The web analyst one is a great prediction – we sure need such people. With business getting smarter, the demand for “web analysts” would grow too.

    I would add reputation manager (with a focus on online reputation management) – that somewhat exists but i think will get bigger and bigger with time, business growth and increased online presence.

    Happy New Year! 😀

    • Thanks Diana, I have to admit, I laughed at the Avatar Manager role myself. I could just imagine the exchange between the client and the manager going something like this:

      Client: Make me thinner, taller and prettier.
      Manager: But mam, it’s best practice to make the avatars somewhat realistic.

      Ugh, conversations I never want to have.

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