Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Bloomberg Businessweek Says To Reduce Loneliness And Anxiety, Throw A Party

Screen addiction is a real thing, and is something that leads to anxiety and loneliness, and is something we've been writing about for several years now.

We've talked about living in an age of anxiety, and that's not diminishing, unfortunately.

We've recommended that when appropriate, companies should consider emphasizing how they can help reduce stress. (Even B2B companies can consider talking about how they help reduce stress for decision makers.) 

We've also noted the rise of mindfulness and apps to help guide people -- last week, three different people urged us to download the same mindfulness app, and it seemed like a cult. (We tried it but had difficulty with it, and kept urging the narrator to speed things up, feeling like the 10-minute session was taking too long. Clearly we've got work to do.)

Meanwhile, Bloomberg Businessweek has a suggestion: "The World Depends on You Throwing a Party. More connected than ever, we are also lonelier than before. The case for being a host." Key quote from the article:
At the very least, let's agree: The more time we spend with our devices, the more time we need with actual human beings."
Interesting, the article notes, retailers and real estate developers are commissioning designs that turn places into gathering places. For retailers, that's an advantage over online retailers. For developers of commercial buildings, offering "lots of greenery, soft seating and even carefully chosen accents and music," are succeeding in "inviting tenants and guests to interact."

So Bloomberg Businessweek is validating our prediction. But in the interest in helping reduce our readers' stress, we're going to keep this blog short so that you can turn off your device, and start interacting with real humans.

Have fun!

Monday, February 25, 2019

5 Observations About The Importance of Chemistry In Client Relationships

In professional sports, you'll sometimes see a star athlete who was setting all kinds of records get traded or sign with another team -- and then flop.

Same athlete. Same sport. Different team, culture and fans.

And very different results. Star on one team, flop on another -- even if the athlete is healthy.

There are too many examples to cite but it happens every season, in every sport. And this is after scouting reports, tryouts, conversations with the athlete and their agent. And still, fairly often, there's a problem, and the player is traded away or waived.

Chemistry is an important part of why a player will succeed on one team, fail on another. 

Chemistry is also important in client and agency relationships, a lesson I learned early on in the agency business. 
  1. There must be chemistry on the agency team and with the client across the table. At Ketchum, when I was starting out, I asked then-CEO Dave Drobis what was a secret to winning new business. It comes down to chemistry, he told me: Chemistry on the agency side and chemistry across the table. The agency team needs to show that they can work together and they need to show they can work well with the client. Chemistry may even be more important than great ideas, he said, because you can have terrific ideas but be so unpleasant to work with that the client won't hire you. 
  2. Chemistry must be part of the agency culture. These days agencies often have some employees working remotely and others have people in the office but they're sitting at their desks with headphones on, barely interacting with their on-site colleagues. It's more important than ever that team members feel like they're part of something. So it's more important than ever that agencies figure out their culture, how to make working there and for various clients is rewarding, challenging and fun. They need to feel supported and that they have a voice and are valued. (That's true, too, for professional athletes, too.)
  3. Chemistry isn't always about liking someone. In my second PR job, I was hired with one real goal: the EVP at the agency hated getting calls at 4:30 every Friday from a particularly unhappy client. My job: stop the client from calling to complain on Friday afternoons. I came in, figured out how to work with the day-to-day client, and we got great results: a mention on "The Tonight Show," articles in Forbes, Fortune, Businessweek, CNN, Time, Newsweek and other top national media. The client was tough and intimidating, and may not have ever truly warmed to me, but we found a way to work together. After a couple of years, she left the company, and was replaced by a much nicer, easier-going person. The problem: he wasn't a good fit in the client organization, and we couldn't get the info we needed to pitch stories. Without compelling stories the original client was about to identify through her network inside the company, there was a big drop in our results. The day-to-day client contact was the only variable that changed but it was a critical factor in our success. So what we mean by chemistry is more than likability. It can be something more elusive.
  4. Clients who pick lowest price over chemistry may do themselves a disservice. We certainly understand cashflow pressures, and we hate spending client money when we don't have to. But we learned an important from one of our clients, a biotech manufacturer who has a rule to not take on clients whose main criteria is achieving the lowest cost possible. The reason: Saving money can get in the way of accomplishing the program's goal. (Our biotech client can point to situation after situation in which penny-wise-but-pound-foolish clients, asked to cut the wrong corners, which resulted in delays and additional costs.) If everyone's eyes are on the meter, you're always looking for short cuts. 
  5. Good chemistry helps when looking at the big picture. Again, when clients are focused on saving money, they keep different marketing functions operating separately. They think bringing in different vendors for regular meetings just costs money without paying off dividends. We had a client who kept the PR function separate from social media function. When it came time to make the most important product announcement for the next 24 months, we checked out the client's social media feeds only to see there was no mention of the major product upgrade. Turns out the social media team hadn't been briefed and hadn't prepared content about the new version of the company's flagship product. Reporters checking out the client's Twitter feed asked us why what we had called the company's most significant announcement wasn't even reaching their Twitter feed. Contrast that with another client who initially resisted having us talk with its webmaster but soon saw how letting us talk really benefited the client by allowing us to work together. 
We recently saw something that said there are three key variables: Good, Fast and Cheap but generally you can get achieve only two of those. You can have something good and fast but that's rarely cheap. You can have something cheap and fast but that's rarely good. Or cheap and good but rarely fast. 

Clients who prize cheap usually also want things done fast, and the result is the agency is unhappy -- because we always want to deliver something not just good but excellent -- and ultimately, so is the client. 

Please note: we truly understand the financial pressures of clients. We understand the need to keep budgets under control. Back in the dot-com era, working at a big PR agency, we had a couple of clients that spent crazy amounts of money, especially considering that one had no real product, no customers and no revenue. They had a PR budget of $30,000 a month, hoping that would generate eyeballs (the term of the day) but they ran out of money by the third month, owing the agency $90,000 never collected. 

That was a prime lesson for taking a different approach at Birnbach Communications to our clients -- they all had to real products, real customers and real revenue or funding. There's a balance between spending not enough money and spending too much. We're not trying to blame clients who need to be conservative with their budgets; we just have learned to walk away when clients ask us to reduce the hours and fees in our proposal, based on our experience of how much time a project will take -- because they often don't reduce their expectations. That affects and degrades the chemistry and trust.

So good chemistry is elusive. In some cases, chemistry is really a matter of trust across the table. There are steps we take to develop the chemistry and to build the trust and invest in the client relationship. When you have it, the agency team and client team can achieve success together. 

Which is what we all want.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Need for Creativity in Media Relations: 9 Tips to Get The Media's Attention

In our previous blog, "5 Factors That Make It Harder to Break Into National Business Media," we discussed some of the challenges to getting ink in the national business media.
In this article, we will talk about three tips to successfully getting the media's attention.

  1. Understand the mission of the media outlet you're pitching. Forbes, Fortune and Bloomberg Businessweek may seem similar but they are very different. Forbes is interested in investing opportunities and providing contrarian perspectives. Fortune is interested in management (as opposed to investing though it does publish investing-specific issues) and Bloomberg Businessweek provides more of a news snapshot of the world as it affects business. Pitching a Bloomberg reporter on a company as an investment opportunity won't work -- just as you have to expect a Forbes reporter to ask about a company's valuation even if that's not directly relevant to the story.
  2. Study the sections and opportunities that each media outlet offers. Each newspaper, magazine and website has different sections and columns. And each section or column offers a different path into coverage. For example, the Wall St. Journal has sections for Chief Information Officers and another for Chief Marketing Officers. There could be a way to tell a client's story through the eyes of its CIO that might be very different from the CMO's. There's a Journal columnist who handles work-and-family issues, and your client may have a story there. Fast Company has a section in which executives can offer something -- an app, a book, etc. -- that they highly recommend. And various publications offer a look at an executive's interesting office. We look at all those sections for ways to get our clients considered.
  3. Get to know the reporters and how they approach their articles. Too often publicists, who are juggling many tasks, pitch based on media lists assembled by a database. These databases are helpful in tracking down contact info and background. But they are often not-quite-accurate. Reporters move around a lot these days, so we've seen a Washington Post reporter still listed as working for the Wall St. Journal -- six months after she joined the Post. We've seen reporters listed as covering one topic when they shifted beats. And sometimes the coverage details are broad enough to not be useful. It's important to learn what reporters cover and how they cover it. A reporter will cover news differently from a columnist. It's not enough to respond to a single story; too often it might be a one-off story that's not relevant to the reporter's regular coverage. We look at several weeks' worth of coverage and what they post on social media to get a sense of their approach and interest before we pitch. And then we look at the elements that are frequently included in their articles so that we can make sure to offer up those elements, too.
  4. Look for alternative ways in. For one client, we played up the CEO's racecar-driving hobby to secure local coverage, and we got a good response from a Forbes editor who shares racecar driving as a hobby (though that did not lead directly to coverage). That's something we ask of new client teams. For another client, we recommended the CEO post comments to articles published online by the company's key trade magazine as a way to engage with its community. In one case, the publication contacted him to ask if he would give permission to use his comment as a letter to the editor. Of he said yes, and we got a double hit in the print edition.
  5. Be creative get the reporter's attention. Look, this is from a while ago but a former colleague recently posted about this on LinkedIn, and it brought back memories. On behalf of RIM, we were trying to get attention of then BusinessWeek tech columnist, Stephen Wildstrom, to review a new product: The BlackBerry pager that offered email; one of the first portable email device available at the time. The question was: how to get Wildstrom's attention for a then-unknown startup launching a new product to compete against the Goliath of the day, Palm as it prepared to launch its Palm VII. My solution: I emailed WIldstrom several times during my commute home, always pointing out that I was emailing him while on the MBTA. After a couple of those commuting-time emails, WIldstrom requested review copies of the pager. The result: a terrific headline: "Close to Perfect Pocket E-Mail." For Stephanie Mehta, then a Journal reporter (who then went to Forbes and is now the editor at Fast Company) we pitched a story about the sector based on BlackBerry: "For Paging Industry, a Bet on Two-Way Gadgets."
    By the way, as a side note, back in those days, people on the T spent their commuting time either reading a newspaper, magazine or book. I was something in a pioneer -- taking the blame here -- for spending my commute time by staring at a device. These days, we look for other creative ways to get a reporter's attention. (We'd be happy to provide more recent case studies.)
  6. Make sure the pitch is relevant to the readers. This might seem obvious but sometimes agencies and their clients forget about this. They're excited to pitch good news about the client that they forget that the news may not, by itself, interest readers. A Fortune reporter once said, "That's good news for your client but for readers who don't follow your client or their sector, there's not much of a reason for them to stop and read my article about them." So we always look for how our clients' news fits in to what the reporter and his/her readers or viewers are interested in. What do the readers (or viewers) want or need to know? Another question we ask: why should the reporter or reader care about this story now (as opposed to six months from now)?
  7. Leverage interest in timely news via "newsjacking." Newsjacking is a term that means taking advantage of a current events or news to communicate your brand's message or your subject-matter expertise. Most news events are probably not appropriate so you have to look for a natural connection, and move quickly. For one adoption nonprofit, during the Ebola crisis we advised their PR consultant on pitching the media to help tell how the charity was helping to get children out of infected areas. Another way to newsjack goes back to the BlackBerry days: we contacted reporters we were sure to cover the Palm VII launch with a detailed fact sheet that compared the BlackBerry to the known features of the pre-launch Palm VII. More recently, we did something similar for a startup client's digital compression technology ahead of a soon-to-launched competitive solution from a much-larger company. In most cases, what you want to do is become a resource for reporters, to be someone who can provide reliable insight into a situation.
  8. Use social media to work with reporters. We want to be careful about suggesting alternative ways to contact reporters, like using social media. Once, a reporter contacted us via Twitter to conduct an interview, and that was fine, but the reporter contacted us. Another time, we were trying to figure out the reporter of an Economist article on artificial intelligence for a client of ours. The Economist does not use bylines so we could not tell who had written a particular article; by searching for the article on Twitter, we identified the reporter, and then contacted him by email. We did not want to try to insert ourselves into a conversation with that reporter or to contact him directly on Twitter without any introduction. Contacting him the regular way helped us secure an interview for the client and did not alienate the reporter by being too aggressive. (Keep in mind one the key rules of social media: don't be creepy.) 
  9. Think like a reporter. We look at clients and the stories they tell, and try to think like a reporter would, if encountering the client for the first time. It means taking an objective look at the organization, and asking, "Is this a story? Or is it a blog post?" Blog posts are valuable; they can help with SEO and drive traffic to your website to find out more about what you do. As a reporter, you're looking for something that will engage people outside the company, that tells a story readers didn't know, provides insight into something relevant to the consumers of that media outlet. That also means thinking through what a reporter will need to tell a compelling story -- what are the elements. For example, when pitching an NPR reporter, keep in mind they like natural sound so you need to give the reporter a sense if they can capture interesting/unusual sounds. Once you think like a reporter, you'll be better able to develop and pitch them a story that will work for them -- and you.
Let us know if you have any questions about these tips. Or let us know if we left out one of your favorite tips.

Monday, February 11, 2019

5 Factors That Make It Harder to Break Into National Business Media

Securing national business coverage has never been easy. In preparing to talk to a prospective client recently, we thought it would be helpful to explain why it's gotten tougher -- even before you get to the client.

Clients always want to know about relationships with the media but these days, even with a strong knowledge of the media and good relationships with reporters, there are other challenges to consider:
  1. Shrinking news rooms. Newsrooms have seen dramatic cutbacks and buyouts. Before Feb. 2019, there were more than 1,000 newsroom job cuts in 2019. There is real concern that some newsrooms are ghost newsrooms, with not enough reporters trying to fill up the newshole, and often relying on syndicated content. So it's harder to find reporters these days.
  2. Increased demands on reporters. Concurrent with job cutbacks, the demands on reporters to produce and generate views has increased tremendously. Reporters typically have to file more stories, across different formats (you can read a news story on a radio station's website or watch a video on a print newspaper's website) all while posting content across social media to drive traffic back to the news organizations' website. That means reporters have to think harder about whether they'll even take an interview because of everything else they have to do as part of their jobs.
  3. Some print outlets have reduced their publication schedule or size of their print editions. Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur and other prestige publications have reduced the number of issues they publish annually. Fortune used to 25 issues per year; in 2009, Fortune decreased the number of issues to 18. In 2019, it currently publishes 14 issues a year. Forbes published 22 issues in 2010 and current publishes 14 per year. Entrepreneur published 12 issues per year in 2016 but cut back to 10 in 2017 (sorry Feb. & Aug.). Meanwhile, some outlets have reduced their page size so there's less space per issue for news. (A client recently asked about taking out an ad in the Boston Globe business section and we had to tell them that there's rarely any advertising in that section.) Fewer issues and smaller space means it's harder to get ink. There is, of course, still opportunities for online coverage but we still have to deal with fewer reporters with more demands they have to handle.
  4. Reporters are harder to contact. We've already established that reporters are busier than ever, But they're also harder to reach than ever. There are more freelancers who regularly contribute to a specific news outlet without being an actual employee. That means you can't reach them by phone through the publication's main number. There might not only be no number to use to call those reporters, but increasingly some of the newer digital news sites themselves don't list their phone numbers -- other than for advertising. We used to be able to follow up by phone and by smiling and dialing but that's less possible these days. For a recent client project that targeted advertising/marketing reporters, we found that fewer than half our list included phone numbers; of the ones who had phone numbers listed, 90 percent were the organization's main number, and the dial-by-name directory did not include the name of the reporter (even if they were staff reporters). By the way, of the 10 percent who did have a phone number we could reach, their voicemails were full and did not take new messages. (This is without pointing out that reporters -- across the political spectrum -- are as distracted as the rest of us by the Washington, DC news.)
  5. Tech reporters at national business media are more interested in Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (aka FAANG of the Big Five), Microsoft and Twitter but not as interested in B2B technology. The products they seem most interested are smartphones, virtual assistants (i.e., Alexa); the issues that interest them are privacy, security, crypto and blockchain but not the underlying business tech that supports those products or issues. We know that cloud computing is hot but that doesn't mean reporters at national business publications -- the Journal, Times, Wired, Bloomberg, etc. -- are able to cover a company doing well in cloud computing. The fact is that those reporters are more interested in business issues than in tech issues, and at the same time, it's hard to sell B2B tech via articles in those publications. (Partly that's because it can be much more complicated for businesses to adopt new technology, as Walt Mossberg, the legendary Wall St. Journal tech columnist, told me more than once.)
We know this list is something most clients won't like reading -- we didn't like it ourselves but we try to give clients realistic assessments -- so we  will tackle some ways to get into the national business media in a follow-up article.

In the meantime, let us what you think of these factors.

Monday, February 4, 2019

4 New Predictions + 17 Ongoing Trends for 2019

It may be a new year but some of the trends we expect to generate media coverage in 2019 are ones from prior years.

In this installment about 2019 trends, we list four new predictions plus 17 ongoing trends that will continue in 2019. That's 21 predictions in one article. In some cases, we will just mention the trend without much explanation because we've covered them a lot before. (If you have any questions, post a comment and we'll respond.)

Here are four new predictions based on continuing trends.
  • Lawmakers will act against robocalls. Here’s an issue everyone can support. We all get too many robocalls, whether on our cell phones or land lines. What’s gotten worse is not just how many of the calls we each get but that most of these have spoofed caller IDs so you think it might be a neighbor or someone you know. We expect lawmakers to pass bills to reducing spoofing and robocalls. Already some of the phone companies are expanding their offerings. One problem: you need a different solution to combat the robocall problem on cell phones from the solution for landlines.
  • More colleges will fail and college debt levels will continue to be a significant issue for millennials. Some colleges can’t afford to keep their doors open and many students can’t afford to pay for a college education. The former is an issue and the latter is huge problem for society. We expect to see think pieces in 2019 (and beyond) about the plight of higher education in America.
  • The implications of the (possible) end of Moore’s Law will generate think pieces. In 1965, Gordon Moore, a semiconductor pioneer, wrote a paper that observed that that the number of transistors on a chip would double every year while the costs are halved. We’ve now reached a point where that no longer may be true. There are significant implications if Moore’s prediction slows down so that instead of doubling every year or two, the number of transistors increases every three to five years. We’re not going to go into the implications here except to say we expect there to be some coverage/debate about this in 2019.
  • Cashless-only retail will gain momentum. This is a generational issue but millennials don’t seem to use cash. They use Apple Pay, Venmo and other e-cash solutions but not cash. We expect to see more stores open that are cashless-only – that won’t accept cash. It won’t happen to supermarkets or hardware stores but it will be more prevalent in neighborhoods and retailers catering to a younger, cooler demographic. You might not even notice it happen if you, yourself, rarely use cash at the register. But it will be a problem for older people and people with lower income, including the 14.1 million unbanked adults, according to the Wall St. Journal; what’s disturbing is that the same article reported that, “Despite consumers’ expanded access to banking, one in five households, or 22.7 million, didn’t use mainstream credit such as credit cards and mortgages in the prior year.” That’s a lot of people who will be further cut off from many parts of the economy. 
Here’s our updated list of ongoing trends:

  1. The Age of Anxiety continues. Chaos, uncertainty, anger, a sense of helplessness and the near-constant news notifications will continue to fuel our Age of Anxiety, especially since it seems to be hard to escape. Even broadcast journalists have commented on air that they’re overwhelmed in trying to stay on top of and to process all the news – and that’s their job. We expect many to experience news fatigue, take “news vacations” or (aka a technology cleanses or digital detox, where they shut off all notifications on their phones and take hiatuses from social media – even though that’s nearly impossible to do. As we’ve said previously, in 2019, we expect more coverage regarding stress, anxiety, mental health and ways to de-stress. But the implications for marketers is this: 1) If consumers are turning off news and social media, it will be harder to reach them via ads, media relations and social media; and 2) They might be interested consumer media that distracts them from their anxiety.
  2. Concerns about Retailpocalypse and Amazonification will continue to have an impact in 2019. More big brands will struggle, close locations or declare bankruptcy this year. One change: we expect some saber rattling about whether or not to clamp down on Amazon’s market power. The good news is there will be some innovations in the sector, and some retailers will do well despite Amazonification. The retail sector is important in a consumer-driven economy but there are implications for real estate (when locations go unrented for a long time), local unemployment (the job market is strong but it may be hard for retail staff to transition to another industry), local economies (what happens to cities when retailers abandon them), local media (which benefits from local ads, circulars, etc.) 
  3. The gig economy, robotics and automation and income inequality will continue to spark think pieces about the nature of work. Last year, we said think pieces about the nature of work would be sparked by the labor shortage and the gig economy. This year, we expect think pieces to be driven by those two factors plus concerns about jobs of the future as industrial robots, and automation begin to make inroads in factory settings. Also look for articles about rethinking income inequality, the social safety net and the future of unions for gig workers who don’t necessarily get minimum wage, unemployment benefits, vacation and sick days or employer-contributions for workers’ comp, Social Security and Medicare. We also expect that there will be calls to better measure the gig economy.
  4. The debate about how to regulate Facebook, Google and Twitter will continue. It’s clear that social media companies continue to not be able to stay ahead of their problems. Congress knows it needs to do something in 2019 to address data privacy, hate speech/bullying that isn’t being removed/policed fast enough and election interference/misinformation from Russia. The new goal of any new regulation should be to go into effect before 2020 but we are skeptical that this will be possible because we’d bet that Facebook, Twitter and Google would have addressed their problems if they could have, rather than be regulated by Congress. There will also be articles looking at technology’s role in a democracy. Part of the problem: social media makes it easy to share content before users vet it, and that’s something Congress can’t mandate.
  5. Fake news won’t fade in 2019. Part of the problem is that the term “fake news” can mean almost anything: from news you disagree with or don’t like (but are actually true) to stories that are part of misinformation campaigns (and are factually false). If we can’t agree on a definition of it, and if Facebook, Google and Twitter all have trouble dealing with the fake news scourge, how will regulations and Congress be able to solve what the social media giants can’t? There’s no light at the end of the tunnel since there are calls that even the fact-checking at Facebook must be checked. It’s harder than ever to trust our institutions, which adds to the anxiety so many are experiencing.   
  6. Cord cutting turns out to be complicated and expensive. Over the next 18 months, we’ll experience a glut as more streaming services get launched. It’s getting harder to find all the things you want to watch. Something available on Netflix last month may be found on Hulu next month and then some new service next year. So to watch everything you want, you’ll have to have subscriptions with Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and dozens more. Cable might be simpler and less expensive.
  7. IoT will continue to be victim to cyberattacks. This hasn’t gotten a lot of attention but we think it will. As reported by a friend in a recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, recently a cruise line offered “a proprietary mobile app, which unlocks your cabin door and lets you book activities on and off the ship….(A passenger’s) roommate used it to prank her, remotely flashing the lights and opening the blinds in their cabin.” Seems like a harmless prank but it speaks to more nefarious possibilities. We’re worried that there will be more IoT cyberattacks, as IoT, Smart Homes and virtual assistants go mainstream. Perhaps the only advantage of having to get up and walk over to a light switch is that hackers can’t hack your home.
  8. There’s still not enough cybersecurity protection or privacy. They say millennials don’t care much about privacy but we think that will likely change as they get older. There’s certainly not enough of cybersecurity.
  9. Cloud computing will stay strong. This may be the one tech trend that has yet to experience a backlash. Cloud computing remains an important paradigm, and we don't see that changing in 2019, which means that it's a trend that may not get that much ink because editors are always looking for stories that answer "What's new?" and that move the story forward. That said, for business press, there's still interest in the horse race between Amazon's  AWS, Microsoft's Azure and Google Cloud Platform. We expect to see more about "cloud agnostic" or “Not Amazon” as a key message that will help lure customers that compete with Amazon to look beyond AWS. 
  10. Driverless cars will generate attention but still won’t appear at local dealership. Closer on the horizon is more electric cars, with China’s plans to eliminate all new combustion cars and trucks by 2030. There are lots of challenges to be addressed either way, like having are enough charging stations for electric cars and investing in the type of infrastructure – in urban, suburban and rural areas – that can enable driverless cars to operate including in bad weather. Oh, and there will continue to be a lot of coverage of Tesla.
  11. E-Scooters will become more of a thing in 2019. Some of us first heard about a vague problem of e-scooters like Bird that began cluttering up sidewalks in some cities. We expect them to gain more attention in 2019, becoming a full-fledged trends, much the way urban bike share and bike lanes did (it seems to us) in 2018. (They were around before 2018 but people began talking about bike lanes much more, we feel.)
  12. Corporate boycotts and consumer boycotts will continue. These are boycotts by companies in order to demonstrate distance from controversial programs and personalities. We also expect boycotts of companies that are boycotting those controversial people and programs.
  13. Drug pricing will continue to get a lot of attention. The problem: it’s expensive to develop new drugs – on average it costs $2.6 billion – and pharma companies need to use successful drugs to fund future development. There won’t be an easy solution so we don’t expect much from Congress except outrage.
  14. Wearable tech will still not be as mainstream as people in the industry were hoping. But wearable will make quiet inroads so that before you know it (probably not in 2019, though), lots of things will have built-in technology.
  15. The need for more Americans to pursue STEM education and careers continue to be important. With a looming labor shortage (in some fields), businesses are looking for employees with a firm grasp of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). We think funding for STEM will continue to keep U.S. businesses competitive.
  16. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality still won’t be everywhere yet. VR and AR still aren't fully mainstream because people still don't yet have a strong-enough need for it. Watching a basketball game on Oculus is cool but not practical in how many people watch content these days, on their phones while in public spaces. (Can you imagine a subway car filled with people wearing heavy headsets?)
  17. 3-D content and 3-D printers will still not be as popular as they are cool.
Let us know if you disagree or agree with us selection. Did we miss something? Overstate things? We're happy to hear from you.