We live in unpredictable times. News pages and Twitter feeds shift at dizzying speeds and recent events such as Trump’s election and Brexit confounded pollsters and shook markets. With so much uncertainty, reliable and well-informed predictions are invaluable.
We love to future-gaze. From food to fashion and finance, the end of the year sounds the starting gun for a slew of predictions: what’s 2019’s avocado, boxers or briefs, will markets recover from a terrible final quarter? As such, outlooks are a permanent fixture of most editorial calendars – readers want to hear the wise words of industry leading lights and publications are keen for quality, ready-to-go content at a busy time of year.
These slots are well-read and highly regarded. As the year winds down, they make excellent reading for clients and prospects. Consequently, spokespeople everywhere are lining up with their crystal balls to give their views on what lies ahead in the New Year. Such good exposure invites tough competition, as PRs race to sell in content and commentary.
So how do you make your outlook stand out from the crowd and feature in a coveted outlook column?
Go against the grain: People don’t want to hear what they already know. Rather than looking at what’s been well covered, look at what isn’t there. You don’t have to rock the boat to make an impact but be sure to contribute a fresh perspective.
Be bold: Educated guesses at how events are likely to unfold in the next 12 months don’t have to be correct once the year’s out, but you do have to backup your prediction with sound logic. Don’t predict an impending collapse of Western civilisation, for example, but do use current events such as market volatility and increased regulation to paint an educated picture of how the market might be impacted.
Be personal: Anecdotal evidence is key. People want to know what you’re seeing and hearing and whether this aligns with their own experiences. It also provides credible evidence for your predictions. What are clients telling you? What’s the feeling in the industry?
Show a solution: There will always be headwinds but try to show a way through difficult times. Highlight the difficulties but suggest how they can be overcome and explain the opportunity.
Know your audience: Trade publications with a highly specialised readership will be looking for content that fits their niche. Commentary needs to be interesting to those who live and breathe the subject. Higher level commentary targeted at a broader audience however needs to appeal to those who have little or no prior knowledge of your world and capture their attention.
Tell them why they should care: Making a prediction is one thing but it needs to be backed by an explanation of why it’s important. Apply the ‘so what?’ test to your prediction.
Get in early: Journalists start writing their outlooks weeks in advance. Start thinking about your predictions in October and be ready with them for the beginning of November to ensure you’re at the front of the queue when journalists start to research their pieces.
An outlook’s not just for Christmas
While the end of the year is fast approaching, interest in good predictions carries on throughout the year. Predictions about salient issues backed by credible evidence and presented in the right way will always be interesting.
A lot can happen in a year. Look ahead to important milestones in 2019 – whether the anniversary of MiFID II’s implementation, Brexit day or Fed meetings – to peg your prediction to and stick to a few core principles to get ahead with your outlook.
This Christmas, turkey, mince pies and general overeating are a rare certainty, what will happen in the next three months is anyone’s guess. Use your predictions wisely – timely and informed commentary is more valuable than ever.