2010: it’s hard to believe I now have to learn to write that on my checks, on the few occasions I still write them. When I was young, my picture of life by this date was much more futuristic – something more like the Jetsons: Rosie the robot in every home, three-day work weeks, flying cars. Living in Atlanta, the idea of a flying car seems especially appealing. Of course, we’d probably have to have flying HERO trucks too… but I digress.
As much as the pile of deadlines says otherwise, I can’t head full steam ahead into 2010 without reflecting on 2009. It’s no surprise that for me, as for so many others, 2009 will go down as the year that social media really impacted how I do my job on a daily basis. This wasn’t the first year that we integrated social media tactics into clients’ public relations programs, but we definitely became more sophisticated in our approach, and more aggressive (and successful) in achieving results. The year was rewarding to me in particular because I found such a renewed passion for the work that I do – in large part because that perennial student inside has been given the opportunity to spend a good portion of my time learning new things, finding new tools, and working with my amazing team to develop new ideas. So in light of the fact that many have been hurt by the economics of 2009, I am especially grateful that, for me, it will go down as a great year professionally.
That’s my reflection. Here’s what the rest of the senior team had to say about 2009:
“I learned in 2009 that we have some very savvy clients that, despite economic uncertainty, chose to move forward with their PR and marketing efforts much as they would have if the economy was booming. Time and again, this has proven to be a successful approach. However, I have seen companies over the years make deep cuts in marketing and PR budgets during economic downturns and that is perfectly understandable … but … those clients that stay the course and remain aggressive are almost always rewarded more handsomely than those that don’t. I think we will find that those companies and organizations that marketed aggressively in 2009 will be among the winners in 2010 and will help drive what should be a good year for the public relations industry as well.” – Chip Stewart
“While I think 2009 cast a cloud of anxiety over many areas of our lives and businesses, what worked best for me this past year – both professionally and personally – was a bit of R&R, that is, a renewed cultivation of relationships and resourcefulness. I tried to be consciously more tuned in to clients, media, colleagues and meeting new people. I made it a point to pick up the phone more often – instead of opting for email. For every client we asked the question: what can we do with our existing resources that’s even more creative and will add value? While this has been our agency philosophy all along, my team highlighted this approach more specifically and shared more even thoughts with our clients. I believe this reassurance reinforced our value.
At least for me, 2010 seems to be launching with a bit less anxiety than last year. I hope this perception will prove to be reality. I plan to keep the R&R philosophy for this year as well – with the hope of adding some conventional R&R too.” – Jane Stout
“Last year began with the observation that this is the best team with whom I have ever worked. There was no one that I would want to lay off if, in fact, the economy were to drive me to that point of necessity. It made me think about what I would do to control expenses when I have no weak links to conveniently dump via downsizing. I thought further about how lucky I am to have an expansive group of smart people here, all of them with killer work ethics. With this being my firm, it’s not like I could say, “I’m terribly sorry but New York says…” Any downsizing would be a painful conversation between me and someone I respected for his or her contribution.
With that in mind I established my personal goal that we would not go there – to that awful place of fighting for survival. Instead, I hoped that we would weather the storm. While the economy is not out of the woods and I have no desire to tempt fate, I am thrilled that we did better than I anticipated. Revenue was respectable and new business came our way. While most of it was on referral, some of it was competitive. I’ll crow about those wins another time. Starting this new year, I am so pleased that this team, this remarkable team, is still in place. We have great work and a lot of it. I might be the luckiest firm president anywhere.” – Carol Cookerly
With that, I don’t think there’s much more for us to say. What about you? What is your reflection on 2009?