Today’s guest post is by Lou Hoffman

Looking into the communications crystal ball is fraught with peril.

Who could have predicted HP would buy a company for $10.3 billion only to discover they misread the price tag by a few billion?

And yes, this does fit under the communications umbrella, as you’ll see in a moment.

Still, my crack research team of one – that would be me – has studied the future of communications and offers these predictions for next year.

With tongue firmly in cheek a smidgen above the left molar, here goes.

  1. Toyota Makes Lemonade out of Lemons… Not! Toyota distributes a news release on April 1 celebrating the three-year anniversary of what the car maker dubs pedal-gate. While levity on April Fool’s Day can bring out a company’s humanity, people are not amused. Making matters worse, Toyota also announces a concept car that accelerates if the driver simply wishes he was going faster. It all sounded so good in the war room.
  2. HP Purchases Dairy Queen. With PR sitting at the table – they can’t talk, but they do have a seat? HP management hatches a plan to reduce the sting from the Autonomy debacle by buying a company with pristine accounting. They settle on the Warren Buffet company, Dairy Queen, which nicely fits their vision around all things “soft;” i.e., software, soft serve, etc. The photo snapped of Meg Whitman and Warren Buffett side-by-side, both eating a Dilly Bar, ends up being the most syndicated photo of the year with billions of media impressions.
  3. Michelle Obama Receives Surprising Gift on Mother’s Day. As a way to remind Republicans Team Obama doesn’t hold a grudge, a KitchenAid Custom Metallic® Series 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer greets Michelle Obama on Mother’s Day. To its credit, the KitchenAid communications department refrains from tweeting the news.
  4. “Pearned Media” Enters the Vernacular. A spike in the number of publications generating revenue from sponsored posts prompts the coining of the term, “Pearned Media.” This is when paid media and earned media blend together to the point where the reader can’t distinguish one from the other.
  5. Bob Dylan Comeback Derails. One can only carve so many canoes. Antsy after years out of the spotlight, Bob Dylan dusts off “Blowin’ in the Wind” for an appearance on MTV. Unfortunately, boos rain down from the crowd as video vignettes of Hurricane Sandy play in the background. Bob again heads underground. 
  6. Groupon Gropes for Diversification. Pressure mounts on young Andrew Mason to show he’s the right guy to goose revenue and resuscitate the Groupon stock. After two days at the Northwestern library studying which markets have the biggest margins, Mason establishes a new business unit focused on adult entertainment. That’s right. You can now crowdsource movies from Wicked Productions for a better price. Savvy marketer that he is, Mason calls the business unit “Pornpon” to avoid affecting the Groupon brand.
  7. Big Data Breaks Through. As proof positive big data’s day has arrived, three scientists at MIT discover the 1960’s urban legend, “Paul is dead” – suggesting Paul McCartney from the Beatles had died – was off by a consonant (phonetically speaking). Months of data crunching reveals the actual words were “Paul is red,” reflecting Paul’s dalliance with communism early in his youth.
  8. Smartphone Goes Old School. It’s hard to differentiate an Android phone with so many manufacturers working from the same playbook … but not impossible. A Swiss company plays off its heritage and introduces DSAK, the Droid Swiss Army Knife. The product offers all the functionality of a Droid phone plus an actual Swiss Army Knife that slides out of the back panel. It turns out to be a hot seller with women who love the cute scissors (and don’t do air travel).
  9. Foxconn Announces Retail Store Strategy. Taking a page from the Apple playbook, Foxconn commits to open retail stores in London, Milan, Sao Paulo, and New York City. CEO Terry Gou explains it’s all part of the contract manufacturer’s master plan to build a global brand. When asked what the Foxconn stores will actually sell, Gou responds that these details “are still being worked out, but the store interiors will be spacious with clean lines, lots of glass and a Mensa bar.”

I appreciate the Spin Sucks team making room for my version of levity. Would love to see your ‘number 10’ in the comments!

Here’s wishing everyone a healthy and successful 2013.

Lou Hoffman spearheads a global communications consultancy and writes about storytelling through a business prism at Ishmael’s Corner. You can also find him on Twitter