At Ketchum, we close each year with a look back at our top-performing blog posts—always a powerful indicator of emerging industry trends, thought leadership topics and communications themes. This year, our review reveals a dramatic shift in high-performing content. COVID-19 pushed traditional thought leadership off the tally sheet in favor of a balance between human-focused pieces and client counsel on how businesses could best manage COVID-19 and its ensuing disruption.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive,” says the Dalai Lama. This year compassion—empathy, mental health, employee wellbeing—unsurprisingly moved to the top of the list as we grappled with the global pandemic, shelter-in-place lockdowns, economic headwinds, the social justice movement and the struggle to balance family and work as we migrated to a virtual workplace. High-performing content with empathy at the core included Embracing the Uncomfortable: A Personal View of Anti-Racism, Being a Working Mom was Hard Enough—Then 2020 Happened and It’s a Balancing Act: Delivering Conscious Leadership during COVID-19.

2020 was also the year when employees became the No. 1 stakeholders and employee engagement emerged as one of the hottest growth categories for communications consultants. So it makes sense that a blog showcasing results of a new study on employee engagement—Hitting the Reset Button on Employee Engagement in the COVID Era—resonated.

And advice and tips on navigating the new normal (or abnormal) took top billing with blogs such as Collaboration & Webcams, Leading Communicators Perspectives on the COVID Crisis and Creativity & Innovation in the Era of COVID.

A post unpacking our global research—Study Shows Brands Face a Moment of Reckoning as Consumers Ask Hard Questions—revealed seismic shifts in consumer mindsets as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, while industry-specific guidance such as Preparing for the Future of Tourism in a Post-COVID-19 World also pulled in high engagement, especially in the heavily impacted travel sector.

Finally, we experienced an unanticipated CEO transition this year. Barri Rafferty moved to lead corporate communications at Wells Fargo, and long-time Ketchum U.S. leader Mike Doyle stepped into the CEO role. That transition was cited as PRovoke’s No. 3 most-read story of the year, and One Desk’s Journey, in which Mike shared his evolution at Ketchum from account executive to CEO, showcased both his human-centric leadership style and professional journey.

Most of us are very glad to be turning the calendar page into 2021, but there is no disputing that 2020 and its tremendous challenges provoked us to navigate disruption, learn new ways of working and being, and embrace transformation with empathy + intelligence.

If you’re a regular reader of the Ketchum Blog, was there a particular post that really stood out for you this year? Let us know—we’d love to hear from you.

Ketchum author Hilary McKean

Hilary Hanson McKean oversees global marketing and corporate communications and complementary businesses in her role as president and partner at Ketchum, a top-five global communications consultancy.

Based in New York, Hilary is a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism.  When she is not consulting on brand strategy and global integrated marketing campaigns, she can be found skiing powder runs in Big Sky, Montana.