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2009 great moments in communications

THE past twelve months have seen a whirlwind of activities in the field of communications. Let's face it folks, it has been intense. Some of the changes have left us reeling, still waiting and unsure of the impact on our lives. There are still a few hours left before the end of 2009 though, enough time to give it a last lick and look on some of the stand-out moments in the industry.

One of the best occurrences for 2009 was the height of the fierce competition between the telecommunications companies. Finally, we, the much maligned consumer were being courted and treated with more than a modicum of respect. We were caught up in, I want to say, an 'unholy' ménage a trois between: Lime, Claro and Digicel that was being played out on a very public stage. Well, OK, some of the advertisements, like your typical amorous 'Mr Loverman', promised far more than they could ever deliver on a rainy night, but my, the attention was overwhelming, wasn't it? Suddenly, attention was being paid to our needs, left, right and centre. Free talk, to keep us warm and fuzzy all night? Sure, why not? Competitive rates to keep us on as clients? For sure. Giveaways and upgrades? Sudden client calls, apropos of nothing, just to check on us? Wow, it was 'the other woman's' dream come true. The telecoms 'war' proved that it is indeed possible for the consumer to be king. Here's to even more fierce price combat in 2010. Long live talk. Long live the cellphone. Let the games continue...

Over-sexy advertisements: The year 2009 was the year of the over-the-top 'booty' ad. Now, before you think that I have just had my daily glass of hater-ade with more 'hater' than 'ade', hear me out, please. Now, I know that some of the best assets of our ladies are as easily identifiable as they are prominently behind them. And I am only too aware that many men worship at the 'hind' shrine, but gimme a break. Must all energy drinks be sold using the lure of the booty? Women drink energy drinks too fellas, and the last image we want to see before we pour that drink, is that of a rear that looks decidedly better than ours. The female form has always been an easy fallback for non-creative ad-men. Clients deserve a little more thought going into the copy. If you must and if the client insists, how about (and this is just a random thought -- just throwing it out there) a strong-back Mandingo-looking king or prince, for us the female consumers, even if we might not be your major consumers. Think about it. Seriously though, can we 'haul and pull-up' on this trend for 2010?

News-making FB quotes: I will always champion social media as it has a very firm place in the communications industry's future so we may as well embrace it. But the trick is to know how to use it. A status note on your Facebook page can get you hired, fired or quoted in the news media especially if you are in the midst of a storm. Social media is not a forum for your quiet thoughts that you might want to keep private. It is not necessarily a place to meditate and ponder your provocative thoughts or take pot shots at people. Did I say it already: it is an open forum. Here you are on the world's stage: your thoughts naked until you clothe them in plausible explanation. This year more Jamaicans tuned into Facebook (aka Fassbook) and paid attention to its power. I give Facebook two thumbs up for creating and maintaining connections at the personal and professional levels. Here's to more Jamaicans on FaceBook. Here's to us making it work for our brand! Go Facebook!

Leadership communication: A funny thing happened on the way to 2009. The United States of America elected its first African-American President but perhaps even more importantly, a leader with top-class and enviable communication skills. So finally, the leader of the 'Free World' was articulate, handsome and an excellent, intelligent communicator who understood the importance of truth-telling in as far as he could so do. Mind you, President Obama is still a work in progress but 'gets' that when you make a mistake it is okay to say you did so. Remember that snafu with Professor Gates in July, when he reacted instinctively and 'recanted' even hosting the great beer summit, without Red Stripe? This is one president who understands the power of honest communication. Long may he reign...

Tiger's Tail: I promised myself not to get caught up in this brouhaha because somehow, apart from its very important moral lessons, it does not seem relevant to the reputation management scenario in a country such as Jamaica. Baby-mama dramas are a firm part of our public and private lives here as it is in the United States of America, until the media smells blood. Sadly Tiger broke the cardinal crisis communications rule: speak the truth quickly and clearly and move on rapidly. There might have been circumstances that prevented him from doing so - until the release of his tell-all book when he is in his dotage, we will never know. For now it was one of the greatest of reputation mismanagement that affected not only his private life but that of the shareholders of companies that he endorses. Let us agree then that as the media landscape widens and the lines between public and private lives blur, expect more in 2010. So, ready or not, here we come.


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