2012: A curious mix of pride and vitriol

As 2012 draws to a close, we can reflect on a fascinating year for PR, professional communicators and the wider media.

Danny Rogers: 'When the PR industry spontaneously rose to its feet at the climax of the PRWeek Awards, it encapsulated a febrile year.'
Danny Rogers: 'When the PR industry spontaneously rose to its feet at the climax of the PRWeek Awards, it encapsulated a febrile year.'

In the first leader of 2012, I predicted: 'As austerity Britain bites this year, emotions over financial fairness and pay equality will be heightened.' This was to prove prescient.

The biggest corporate crisis of the year came, this summer, with the revelation that Barclays had previously fixed the Libor rate. But the public vitriol was directed at the hubris and pay of the bank's errant CEO Bob Diamond.

The same could be said about the BBC, which suffered its own reputational crisis in the autumn, prompted by Savile-gate. The lightning rod for media ire here was the boss - George Entwistle - and his ill-deserved £450k pay-off.

And most recently, the financial fairness issue arose with the news that the hugely wealthy Starbucks, Amazon and Google were paying minimal UK corporation tax, prompting parliamentary fury and customer boycotts.

It is unsurprising, at a time when many families and firms are struggling financially, that any company or individual (such as Jimmy Carr) seen to be acting greedily or avoiding their contribution, will feel the force of public scrutiny. This resentment is stoked further by Twitter and powerful bloggers.

We saw the flipside of the phenomenon in August, during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Behind the great sport was an unspoken popular sentiment that most of these athletes were paid poorly and were driven by sheer dedication to be the best, to perform for their country. George Osborne's appearance was heartily booed.

Such meritocratic principles, in an otherwise angst-ridden year, provided us with a welcome respite. It was an emotional outpouring of optimism. And thus, when the PR industry spontaneously rose to its feet at the climax of the PRWeek Awards - to applaud the exemplary London 2012 comms team - it encapsulated a febrile 12 months.

So now we stand, post-Leveson, at a critical juncture. We are about to see a subtly altered relationship between politicians, business and the media. And it is just this scenario that explains the UK's heightened need for professional communicators, for advisers with world-class reputation management skills. Thankfully, the portents here are good.

PRWeek has enjoyed providing you with the latest news, analysis and reports - in print, online and in person - and we continue to learn from this absorbing industry. We wish you a happy Christmas and a very successful 2013.

danny.rogers@haymarket.com

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