As 2013 comes to a close and we ramp up for the new year, I’ve been reflecting on the client work Beehive has done this year and the industry events I’ve attended, such as the MIMA 2013: State of Change in October. These five things stand out as critical when developing 2014 marketing communications plans. 1. Good is always good. Whether you’re writing 140 characters or writing the next great American novel, quality always triumphs. Even with our limited attention span, which is about 8 seconds if you are an adult, people will always read interesting content. Sarah Lacy, founder of PandoDaily.com, says, “Respect people’s time and respect their intelligence. If it’s great, people will read.” A good rule to live by in PR or any other marketing discipline. 2. Dealing with data – you don’t need more, just use it. The not-so-recent buzzword “Big Data” feels overwhelming to many. Each month, more than 400,000 Google searches are made for this topic. At the 2013 MIMA Summit, Allyson Hugely of Weber Shadwick said, “Focus on the desired outcome and use only what’s (data) needed.” Any amount of useful data can yield valuable insights to shape your marketing plan. 3. Technology makes communication both easier and harder. Brands are facing ever-increasing challenges to reach customers. Today mobile apps are challenging TV as the dominant channel for media consumption, so marketing communication should accommodates both micro and broadcast channels. For example, Shopkick executive Alexis Rask suggests that retailers and consumers aren’t communicating on the same level. Creating opportunities to meet consumers where they are – on their laptops and smart phones, reading magazines or in the mall – is key to bridging the gap and driving business, in-store and online. 4. Everything is an experience. The communication channel is as important as the message. Successful communication considers audience, content and execution. You need all three to be successful. Working with our clients, we develop a communication ecosystem with multiple extensions. When content is produced, it is developed with multiple communication channels in mind – a perfect example of meeting customers where they are. 5. Emotion is essential. In the end, no matter what, the best marketing communicators remember they are not talking to demographics or data points. They are connecting with living, breathing human beings. Communicating on a personal level and earning an emotional response builds trust and a lasting, rewarding relationship between the consumer and the brand. What other trends do you think will be essential to great marketing communication in 2014?