35 Years of Evolution and Breakthroughs in the Field of Communications

· Blog

Since its humble beginnings in 1989, Capital-Image has witnessed incredible transformations in the field of PR and communications.

Marking the 35th anniversary of Capital-Image, we're reflecting on the journey of the past three and a half decades in the field.

President of Capital-Image since January 2020, what drew Silvie Letendre to join this agency a decade ago was its friendly, humble and entrepreneurial spirit mirroring the personality of its founder, Yvon Desautels. Additionally, the highly enthusiastic team and the diversity of accounts played a significant role in attracting her to join the team.

Expanded global awareness

Let’s not forget that thirty-five years ago, the media consisted mainly of radio, television, newspapers, and magazines. The 1990s witnessed significant technological advancements, ushering in new communication channels.

Well before the 90s, television had already started its global outreach. With the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1989 and its extensive adoption in the following ten years, this trend intensified. The advent of the Internet facilitated immediate global connectivity and the widespread dissemination of information.

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Changing personal and professional behaviors

The advent of this technology has influenced daily interactions among people. In terms of both personal and professional domains, the digital transformation has altered our behavior patterns and has become a fundamental aspect of our communication practices.

Professionals can distribute information quickly to numerous recipients at the same time nowadays. The convenience of smartphones allows for sharing anything and everything with just a single tap. It's hard to imagine that there was a time when press releases were individually sent by fax!

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The media landscape has changed significantly, and traditional journalism has migrated to digital platforms.

Over time, the public and communication experts alike have gained the ability to obtain information in real time with minimal effort.

As real-time sharing on social media emerged, agencies found it necessary to modify their approach, particularly in areas like crisis communications and reputation management. The pace of change has sure been rapid since the introduction of the Internet!

Expanding platforms and innovative technologies

Not long ago, many of us were still using microfiche, but today, a plethora of new tools has simplified various tasks. Whether it's gathering data, accessing articles, conducting press reviews, or monitoring media, the need for lengthy manual effort has significantly diminished.

Silvie Letendre remembers that at the start of her career in 1990, a major portion of her job “involved writing and dispatching press releases to journalists and inviting them to press conferences, followed by monitoring the media for related coverage and commentary.”

She further notes that “a benefit of the progression in public relations is the ability to now quantify everything, making targeted approaches feasible.” While evaluating the effectiveness of communication campaigns was a challenging task in the 90s, modern tools now facilitate the accurate measurement and assessment of impact.

The introduction of social media platforms and search engines has not only helped the process of discovering new brands, information, and products but it has also given rise to new trends.

Techniques like search engine optimization, the use of keywords, continuous updates, and inviting the public to actively participate in communication campaigns are just some examples stemming from these digital advancements.

Although certain aspects of the job have become more straightforward, the sheer growth of number of channels and the pursuit of “always on” have compelled communication professionals to adopt new and creative approaches.

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The rise of social media

One defining characteristic of the mid-2000s was the arrival of social media. Even corporations and brands joined the trend, securing a presence on various platforms to connect with their target customers.

For several years now, multimedia content has been a key part of communication strategies. Starting from the 2010s, visual storytelling has become vital in online communication practices.

Today, video content, playful memes, and interactive posts are extensively used to convey messages and engaging with audiences.

Social platforms have become indispensable for brand promotion and communication campaigns. They not only introduced new communication avenues but also became necessary for initiating and nurturing relationships with key audiences.

Content marketing has experienced rapid growth in recent years, culminating in practices like influencer marketing and user-generated content. Due to their engaging and authentic nature, these emerging trends have become essential components of communication and public relations campaigns.

Current challenges

Over the past decade, we have seen concerns over data privacy, the wavering consumer trust in brands, and artificial intelligence becoming mainstream.

Issues such as cybersecurity, responsible use of technologies, ethical communication practices, and transparency in dealing with the public also holds a key position in discussions and strategic considerations.

According to Silvie Letendre, the main challenges facing professionals working in agencies today involve “staying nimble amid the fast changes in the media ecosystem [and assisting] clients in pinpointing the most promising strategies to meet their business objectives.”

What lies ahead in 35 years?

Can we anticipate the future of our profession 35 years from now? This forever changing field may still have surprises in store for us!

Dare we hope that fake news and misinformation become a relic of the past? Could we imagine press releases crafted entirely by AI and transmitted through thoughts? Could crisis management be averted by a robot's intervention? Will a perfume company launch a web-based aromatic promotional campaign?

Communication experts will no doubt continue to reimagine the profession, embracing innovative and imaginative approaches as trends dictate.

As for Silvie Letendre, President of Capital-Image, her aspiration is that “communications and public relations maintain their pivotal role in the business success of companies and brands, and that professionals in these domains continue to exemplify high levels of integrity and ethics, thereby establishing and nurturing the trust of diverse audiences.”

With great pride and a renewed sense of purpose, we at Capital-Image are prepared to face all the new opportunities and challenges that this fast-moving sector keeps on bringing.

The extensive transformations of the past 35 years have brought remarkable developments within the field of communications.

Which changes have left the most lasting impressions on you?