Welcome to 2017 everyone. Has it settled in yet? Have you stopped writing 2016 at the top of your checks and notebooks? Do you not even write the date on anything anymore because, you know, technology?

Here at Abel Communications, we are embracing the New Year and with it the motivation to push ourselves and our clients to new heights. To do so, we keep a constant eye on the communications landscape and how it’s changing and evolving rapidly.

With an eye towards helping our clients and partners stay at the top of their game, here are 5 ways to evolve your communications strategy in 2017:

1.) Invest in visual storytelling. Better images and videos = more coverage and attention. Earlier this month, The Washington Posannounced that it would “significantly expand its video team with the addition of 30 positions.” And just after that, The New York Times announced the results of a study that indicated the need for visual experts to “play the primary role of covering some stories, rather than a secondary role.” So if you’re telling a story, think visually and invest wisely.

2.) If you haven’t done so already, this is the year to Go Live. Seen the Facebook ads on TV? The world’s largest social media platform is pushing hard for users to go live and share videos in real time, a tactic that is quickly evolving from nascent to mainstream. Why? Because live video grabs attention, has the power to bring your audience closer, and will force you to create strategic opportunities where live video makes sense. Think events, conferences and announcements of major milestones. Just remember, a little planning goes a long way.

3.) Keep an eye on the ever-evolving world of Influencer marketing. This article from eMarketer is a great place to start – it provides some predictions for the year ahead for what has evolved from a buzzword to a critical piece of the marketing puzzle. Of note: “Celebrity endorsements may work for Super Bowl commercials, but some brands are seeing more success with micro-influencers that have up to 10,000 followers and “middle” influencers with up to 250,000 followers.”

4.)  Now more than ever, double down on the strategy of being useful with your content.Let’s face it, many brands like to hear themselves talk. They create lots of content intended to engage or entertain, but often end up focusing on the features and benefits of their product or service. Make it a goal in 2017 to be better than that. Find ways to help your audience learn something new or solve an old problem in a new way. You want a good example of what useful brand journalism looks like? Take a look at how American Express does it. Note how little they talk about American Express.

5.)  Respect the local papers. Despite the explosion in social media and owned media, old school media still matters. A lot. In most cities, the daily paper – even if it’s not printed – sets the tone for what gets covered on TV, radio, and the web, so make sure to cultivate relationships close to home.

Got a communications question or challenge to tackle in 2017? Drop me an email and we’ll talk about it. Here’s wishing everyone success and the bravery required to take a few chances in 2017.