Well, it’s already almost one month into 2013. Last year was a significant year for communicators internationally, and in the US.

2012 witnessed the meteoric rise of the “topic-centric” Pinterest triggering communicators to reassess the web-based pinboard as a new game changer in social commerce. In October, Facebook celebrated successfully connecting more than one billion people around the globe, and earlier this month, the company announced that its “1 billion users have uploaded a staggering 240 billion photographs, and have made in excess of 1 trillion total connections.” We recall, too, that in December, K-pop sensation, Psy, became the first to achieve an unprecedented one billion views of his monster-hit worldwide viral phenomenon, “Gangnam Style,” on the Internet, just six months after first posting the video, leading media giants to dub him the new “King of YouTube.”

Closer to home, 2012 brought us Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the east coast of the US leaving a path of colossal destruction and homelessness, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and a presidential election in which social media played an unprecedented and pivotal role in advancing dynamic conversations especially among the millennial generation. Just to indicate the extent of investment in social media during the 2012 presidential race, by June 2012, Obama’s campaign had spent $31 million on digital ads – four times the $8.1 million Romney spent in the same time frame! And the social universe responded. By October 2012, Obama had 30.7 million fans on Facebook, while Romney racked up a mere 9.1 million.

2013 is now upon us. The world is more media-driven, and the role of public relations and communications has never been more critical as it continues to gain momentum in every sphere of business and life. Are you ready?

With volatile forces continuing to influence the form and function of businesses today in an always-on marketplace coupled with the rapid changes in communications, business owners and executives must integrate clearly defined communications strategies in their overall business strategy mix if they are to remain competitive and relevant. IBM, a leader in business strategy and performance management, has noted, “Businesses perform better when they have a marketing system of engagement across all channels.”

With the rapid expansion of the number of channels and devices that consumers are using, the increasing growth of real-time marketing, and the intense public scrutiny of business policies and operations that, in reality, place the consumer in control, more than ever, it is vital for public relations and communications to be integrated into every aspect of your business, including the C-suite, to strengthen the delivery of focused, effective messaging to the right audiences and an enhanced experience for all stakeholders.

As you look further into the future of your business this year, here are three pointers to help you to navigate the deep seas of public relations and communications in 2013.

1)      Digital Marketing

With the sale of more smartphones than PCs in 2012, and the trend continuing to rise in 2013, investing in digital marketing to earn customer trust, deliver meaningful content and foster greater customer engagement should be a significant strategy for all businesses.

2)      Impactful SEO

Good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no longer about knowing the tricks of the trade. Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, has noted, “For the past decade and a half, marketers have often thought of SEO, social media, and content as separate channels and segmented practices. But these barriers are crumbling. In 2013, I expect to see many of the most successful marketers treat these practices not as disparate channels, but as optimizable elements of a whole.”

3)      Increase in Inbound Marketing

Research has shown that effective inbound marketing consistently delivers a significantly lower cost per lead than outbound marketing, and businesses are steadily shifting their budgets to increase investment in inbound marketing.

What’s your communications outlook for 2013?