Early Strategic Topic Recognition and Trend Analysis: FirstSignals®

3 minutes reading time

A conversation with Oliver Heyden, Business Developer and Head of Key Account Management at pressrelations, about the development and possibilities of FirstSignals®.


Oliver, you have been involved in the development of FirstSignals® from the beginning. Can you describe what it is in a few words?

Oliver H: FirstSignals® is a highly developed method of identifying, differentiating and classifying new topics, ideas, perspectives, trends or even new technologies according to their relevance. And it does so at the very moment when the so-called “buzzwords” leave the small circle of specialists and enter the media space of decision-makers and consumers for the first time.

What is new or special about this method?

Oliver H: The method is based on the assumption that everything that enters the world is first going to be given a name. New trends and themes are born in the media space by giving them names. This is where the analysis comes in. It identifies such new buzzwords exactly at the moment and at the point when they are mentioned in the media and heard/read by decision-makers and consumers – exactly at the point where topic trends start. For our clients, FirstSignals® enables the development of innovative and target group relevant content. Those who take up a well-founded position at an early stage can thus take over topic leadership before the competition.

In the various media channels, a great deal of information and opinions on a topic come up daily. At what point can one start talking about a trend?

Oliver H: When the topic develops a high latency. That is if it is not only briefly mentioned in a few media channels or a single niche medium, but if it quickly spreads across numerous different media channels and genres and remains present in this breadth for more than 1-2 weeks.

It is similar to the music industry. Some topics or terms appear only once briefly and singularly in the public space and then immediately disappear, due to lack of acceptance or attention. There are seasonal subjects that can be compared to summer hits, which dominate public opinion for a while and then disappear again. And then there are the subjects that become perennial favorites, classics or evergreens. Examples are autonomous driving, industry 4.0, energy transition, but also debates on globalization, populism or social inequality.

But if a topic or a buzzword with strong presence additionally develops numerous related or synonymous terms and theme facets, this is an indication that the all-dominant megahit is not only becoming an evergreen but possibly a completely new genre is emerging, a new paradigm to which society, economy and technology are paying attention. In the 1990s this was the “New Economy”, in the noughties it was “Web 2.0”, and now it’s digitalization.

What are the possibilities with FirstSignals® analysis?

Oliver H: Basically, it allows customers to check the relevance of the content of their communication strategy, update it and thus make it more interesting, fresher and more appropriate for the intended public or target group. FirstSignals® enables a company to lead the field in terms of topics, as it helps to occupy relevant and highly topical issues earlier than the competition and to help shape them with however they want.

FirstSignals® can thus massively support reputation and brand building as well as the control of public, political opinion-forming processes. However, the early recognition of new topics, ideas, technologies and perspectives can not only massively support or change the communicative agenda. It can also improve the resilience and sustainability of entire companies and organizations in a rapidly and radically changing environment. Because FirstSignals® offers companies and organizations equally important impulses for reviewing their own business or action agenda. And it provides a sound basis for systematically working out new, more innovative and up-to-date business models or development strategies.

Oliver, whom would you recommend a trend analysis?

Oliver H: Basically, all companies and organizations that operate in a strongly content-based, technology and topic-driven environment or in a rapidly changing industry. But especially all companies and organizations that are facing a realignment in terms of content, whether it’s only in terms of communication or their overall strategic orientation.

Contact us by e-mail or use the form below to request a sample (04|2019) of our FirstSignals Study® for Handelsblatt.

Dear Oliver, thank you very much for the interview!

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