One of PR legend Harold Burson's great maxims is that communications doesn't operate in a bubble. It's important for anyone working in the industry to be fully cognizant of the wider business and economic environment within which the practice of communications operates.
That's why the news that the United States GDP in Q4 of 2010 rose 3.2% year over year is significant and worthy of note. Financial experts indicate that this means the economy has officially moved from recovery phase into expansion. In other words, the Great Recession is over.
Add that to other indicators, such as embattled auto company Ford posting its best annual profit for a decade in 2010 - $6.6bn – and it underlines our feeling and hope that this is going to be a great 12 months for PR.
Clearly it is not yet time to start dancing in the streets. As Porter Novelli CEO Gary Stockman commented in our editors' choice feature in January, macroeconomic pressure is the new normal, and high unemployment and a poor balance of trade still need to improve significantly moving forward. Some analysts also noted that 3.2% growth in Q4 was slightly below expectations.
But spare a thought for those operating in the UK economy, where GDP actually shrank 0.5% in Q4, and that's before a swathing round of government cuts kick in. For them, a double-dip recession is still a distinct possibility.
Interestingly, the end of the recession has received far less coverage in the media than the start of it. There's an old adage in journalism that good news is an oxymoron – noone writes about the plane that lands safely, only the one that crashes. Indeed, financial journalists have been accused in the past of hastening recessions by almost talking the markets and consumers into them.
But I am happy to buck that trend on this occasion. The Great Recession is over – let's celebrate that fact and look forward to a busy and profitable 2011.