I keep hearing heartfelt farewells to 2016. Sometimes with regret ("how did we miss that?"), sometimes with bitterness ("what have we done?") and almost always with an assumption that 2017 will be better. Much better.
I'm not so sure.
We are capable of missing a LOT: trends, data, insights and opinion are fleeting apparitions we mistake for "facts." We rarely learn from mistakes, political, personal or otherwise. History clobbers us about the head repeatedly yet never gets its point across. We are too old to remember clearly what was great, and what was not. Or too young to remember at all.
So we'd say good riddance to one year and look longingly at the next.
But here's the thing: one year is rarely better than another. Or worse. It's what we make of them that counts. 2017 will see a lot that's not good. Famous people will die. Humanitarian crises will fester, or emerge anew. Nations will clash. Our favourite teams will lose. Stupid memes will go viral. And businesses and governments will respond badly, often, and make them worse. Same as every year!
But like 2016 and all of the years before, we will see in 2017 people do remarkable things for others. Technology will progress. Art, sport and science will inspire us. Children will give us hope. We will surprise ourselves with our ingenuity, resilience and general cleverness.
So I hope, as communicators, we will see clearly the good with the bad, the easy with difficult, and the possibilities with the disappointments. Our job is to help our organisations find common ground with those they serve to create or maintain ideas of real value.
There will be lots to keep us as PR people busy and honest: a redux of fake news and propaganda; algorithmic online searches that inadvertently (or not) frame perspective; automated content; virtual reality, actual reality; populism; globalisation; nativism; elitism ...
So, brothers and sisters of the word, image and sound, let's welcome 2017 optimistically. And realistically.
Article written by David Gallagher, president, growth and development, international at Omnicom Public Relations Group
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