If 2020 was the Year of Unknowns, 2021 has been the Year of Uncertainty. At times it has felt like one step forward, two steps back. We’ve seen a year marked by the highs of COVID vaccine availability, the reopening of shops and restaurants, the emotional reunions of families, and the evolution of how co-workers co-work, from all-virtual to cautious in-person get-togethers. At the same time, it’s been a year marked by headline events in the social justice movement, increased mental and emotional health needs and disruptive coronavirus variants. But people have rallied in response: 2021 has also been the Year of Agility, as companies and individuals have sought to manage all this change and returned to prior-year levels of business activity and spending.

The Ketchum blog reflects these ups and downs. Our 10 most-read posts reflect a real mix of interests – from social justice issues and mental wellness to more pragmatic topics like communications trends, the food industry, and the retirement of an industry icon. Read on to see if these were some of the same topics on your mind this year.

Among Ketchum’s top-read posts were two that provided counsel to brands on important and long-standing issues: racial injustice and LGBTQIA+ equality. The post on George Floyd, One Year Later: Key Communications Considerations took a frank look at the potential pitfalls for brands as well as providing actionable advice. The Pride Month 2021: Evolving the Celebration blog post continued the theme, calling on brands to take an intersectional approach to marketing and communicating with the LGBTQIA+ community in a new era of Pride.

Naturally, one of the questions on everyone’s mind amidst massive change is “how are others coping? Is there anything I can learn from what they’re doing?” To answer this for companies, the leaders of our Employee Communications and Engagement specialty conducted a study to define the “new essentials” dictated by COVID one year after the start. We shared these insights in a post that resonated:  One Year in: Embracing and Managing the Changing Workplace. We also know that leading with empathy and not being afraid to be human and vulnerable goes far, more so now than ever. Among our most popular 2021 posts are firsthand perspectives on topics like Popping the Big-City Bubble: Moving Back Home During Lockdown and Letting Go of Impostor Syndrome.

But not every top post was about the pandemic. Communications professionals found their inner agility in 2021 and showed that via interest in communications topics going beyond the current state of uncertainty, including high-performing posts on Five Communications Strategies That Will Outlast the Pandemic and Curious About Clubhouse? Here’s What Brands Need to Know.

And then there is a topic that is always top of mind: food. A Ketchum registered dietitian and director of our nutrition specialty celebrated her 15th work anniversary by penning a popular post that reflected on her professional journey and the intersections with her personal journey in A Dietitian Looks Back on 15 Years of Change in Nutrition Communications. In There Are No Good Guys or Bad Guys in Food, the leader of our Food Agriculture & Industry specialty called for everyone to move beyond “beyond” and have a discussion about food production that is inclusive and celebrates the value of the many food production systems helping us nourish people and nurture ecosystems.

And finally, in 2021 we celebrated the retirement of Ketchum chairman and public relations industry luminary, Rob Flaherty. During his tenure, Ketchum won more awards for its client work than any other agency, including multiple Cannes Lions, SABRE Awards, PRWeek Awards and Silver Anvils, in addition to being named PRWeek’s Best Agency of the Past 20 Years in 2019. The high interest in Rob’s Reflections on Retirement After 32 Years underscores his standing in the communications industry.

As we close the books on The Year of Agility and look forward to what 2022 will bring, Ketchum will continue to live our brand of empathy + intelligence and share our insights to help advance the industry and do work that matters for our clients and the world.

Chris Ditner is the head of marketing at Ketchum. She has spent her career in B2B marketing, building marketing and communications campaigns that deliver business outcomes around complex business concepts and provocative thought leadership. Chris recently rolled out a new global brand identity and design system,  the culmination of an eight-month marketing initiative to align the firm’s positioning with its evolution to a consultancy model.

Chris also provides marketing strategy and senior-level writing support for select clients, telling stories through words and visuals and making the complex comprehensible. Her work has helped earn Ketchum multiple awards that include a PRSA Best of Silver Anvil and SABRE Platinum Best PR Program of the Year.