So with a few days left of 2013 I find myself pondering the question what have we learnt during the last 12 months. Perhaps it is more accurate to say I am considering what I have learnt. I think when reviewing this year it boils down to seven things.
1. Learning is still fun and even easier. This was the year that I tried my first MOOC (massive open online course) and I liked it. The opportunity to be able to tap into university courses from around the world through Coursera was both exciting and liberating. It gives everyone the opportunity to develop themselves as most of the courses can be taken for free. All you need is some determination and some time. It is something well worth checking out for 2014. I have already signed up for two more.
2. Social is here to stay and breaks down barriers. In January I was given the opportunity to go to Europe to talk about social media and disaster management. I met people from many countries but all had a desire to make full use of social media. Throughout 2013 I have discussed the impact of social media with many different people. Frustratingly, many are still too caught up in the issue of risks and resourcing to take full advantage of what is readily available. The past 12 months have shown that those willing to embrace social media can reap the rewards.
3. Visual information is good. This year has seen the rise in popularity of the infographic and why? Well the answer is clear many people remember information more clearly when it has been provided visually. It is also a busy world and being able to get the detail quickly is essential. I am sure that the use of the infographic will develop further as the technology updates and develops.
4. Security at the forefront. We have seen lots of media hype and some genuine public concern about what protection exists for the individual citizen and how much ‘snooping’ is taking place by governments. And at the same time there has been more demand for protection to be put in place on social networks to ensure people are less at risk of bullying, harassment and are not exposed to things they shouldn’t be. The fine balance between the rights of society and the individual is going to be long debated.
5. Communication professionals need to adapt to survive. More is being asked of people who work in communication and public relations. They are expected to be innovators, archivists, psychologists and many other things. This can be quite scary like looking at a huge mountain that you have to climb. On the other hand, it is a great opportunity to demonstrate what communication professionals can do and can achieve. It has put the role at the centre of the organisational change and development if we are prepared to take up the challenge.
6. Keep logged on. I learnt that I am one of the estimated 56 per cent of people who suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). For us sad individuals social networks cannot be far away and being offline for any period of time can be stressful. I get a huge amount of information, immediate updates and news through social networks, without those networks I fear that I am going to be ‘out of the loop’.
My final thought has been brought to the fore in the run up to Christmas. Working on the annual Christmas safety campaigns was more fun than normal because we involved the inquiring minds from the local primary school. They helped us share important messages but more importantly we were able to give something back to them. Some fun, some education and a Christmas to remember. This was the year when people became even more generous. There were a number of stories about victims of crime who had suffered and when details were circulated by police on social networks so many people came forward. We can all definitely look to 2014 as a year when we can do more good and help more people both virtually and in the real world.
Now that is the learning from 2013 I can start to consider the predictions for what may be coming in 2014. But that is another blog for another day.