Generating Positivity in 2012

Nicky Preston is a consultant at ICON International Communications, Ketchum’s exclusive affiliate partner in Singapore and Australia.

Somehow January went by with a blink of an eye, February has come and is almost gone, and before we know it we will find ourselves in March. So let’s take a minute to reflect and develop goals for the year ahead.

This year has started on a less-than-positive note, with news of further credit downgrades, a major maritime disaster in the form of a capsized cruise liner off the coast of Italy and, on an infinitely smaller scale, a wet start to the Australian summer.

That being said, let’s focus on the positive trends that are developing at the moment – and hopefully these trends will continue through 2012. Here are five reasons why I think this year is going to be a good year.

1.     Heightened global interaction via a major sporting event – the London Olympics

Spanning just 17 days, and held only once every four years, the Olympics are the one event that unites the globe and provides an opportunity for any and every nation to shine.

From a PR standpoint, this provides a myriad of opportunities to leverage brand communications. From a personal standpoint, this is a wonderful celebration of people achieving extraordinary feats. And I’m highly excited about both.

2.     Increased connectivity enabling relationship creation

There is a lot of talk about how social media is destroying relationships – but at the same time social media is enabling many relationships to thrive and often develop. I noticed with interest the recent launch of a social media application that allows people to connect with others they’ve met on planes, but have not exchanged details. Likewise, LinkedIn has enabled me to connect with numerous professionals I may not have otherwise connected with.

While this is a trend that has been developing for a number of years now, as people grow savvier and older age brackets embrace social media tools, this is set to advance further.

3.     The democratisation of news

Again, there are two sides to this, but I’m going to focus on the positive. While there is no way I could advocate the closing of newsrooms, or the reduction in photojournalists due to the rise of the smartphone generation, there is something to be said for the effects of providing everyday citizens with a voice and the tools to disseminate their messages.

The various uprisings throughout the Middle East in 2011 and the role that internet connectivity and social media tools played in enabling these are the obvious example. But also on a smaller scale, by giving people a chance to interact with large media organisations via commenting on stories and submitting pictures, debates are opened up and people are given a voice.

I look forward to what 2012 will bring in this area.

4.      The rise of niche products, services and groups

If the 20th century was all about mass-marketing, then the 21st century has so far shown the rise of the opposite – the increase of niche products, services and groups. Additionally, products are increasingly customisable, adding another layer to the potential.

We’re seeing brands adopt this also, with a number of fantastic campaigns such as the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign by Coca-Cola in Australia at the end of 2011. This involved a range of named Coke bottles, whereby popular names replaced ‘Coca-Cola’ as the dominant word on the packaging.

I look forward to seeing more – and hopefully working on – such campaigns in 2012.

5.     Good customer service becoming the norm, not the exception

Another knock-on effect from the rise in social media tools has meant companies need to refine and extend their customer service offerings or face a barrage of complaints aired to the world.

While this can also be scary from a PR perspective, companies that have good procedures and a well-prepared customer response plan are only set to thrive as (hopefully) more and more positive consumer sentiment is generated via online forums.

And personally, I look forward to reduced minutes waiting for a call centre to answer my queries and more helpful sales staff, so I can focus on the things that matter the most – enjoying 2012 and concentrating on achieving positive results in both my personal and professional lives.