The Worst and Best of 2009

From The National Summit to “Twittergate” to three-day home delivery for “daily newspapers,” we feel like we have seen the gamut of the good, bad and changing in communications this year. A few things, though, really stand out (to this blog co-author anyway) so here are some of the Worst and Best of 2009:

Worst Corporate Communications Move – General Motors

As part of GM’s restructuring, it decided to close profitable, privately-owned dealers across the country, even for brands it was continuing to manufacture. The company did such a miserable job communicating the “why” of this decision, even the opinion-leading publisher of the Automotive News, Keith Crain wrote in May that he didn’t get it. To this day, dealers, customers and local officials alike still don’t understand why the dealerships were forced to close.

Worst Statement – Bill Martin, University of Michigan Athletic Director

With his head football coach, Rich Rodriguez, under fire in August for potential NCAA violations, the Athletic Director responded to media inquiries about his future, Martin responded with the program’s 2009 football marketing slogan by saying, “I’m all in for Rich Rodriguez.” At the end of the miserable season, he did it again – repeating the same statement in November. If Martin really supports his coach, he should say that instead of using a marketing tagline as a PR statement.

Worst Media Execution – NBC

Jay Leno Monday through Friday at 10pm Eastern sounded to me like a great idea at the time. Something light heading toward bedtime as strong counterprogramming – a live show versus scripted dramas or “reality TV.” After the first week, though, it has been a flop. Too often the show is just not funny and its “celebrities” have too narrow an appeal to draw a relatively large audience. Also, the pacing of the show is not designed to bring out the best “bits.” Instead, it’s designed for prime time quarter-hour breakups and local news “teases.” It just hasn’t worked and could go down as a historic mistake. I blame execution, not overall concept.

Worst Trend – The Unacknowledged Proposal

We blogged earlier this year about the “Epidemic of Unprofessionalism.” We hope it’s a trend that doesn’t continue. Potential client contacts us. Then asks for a proposal. Then we never hear from them again. It is unprofessional and, from what we heard after our postings, all too common in many industries.

Best Corporate Communications Move- Ford Motor Company

Ford is making money again and, as with virtually every successful company, its communications strategy is paying off. The company has isolated a few key messages (quality, green, popular are among them) and consistently used them across national advertising, local advertising, social media and traditional PR. This proves that companies that communicate well tend to lead their sectors.

Best Response – David Letterman

Before a scandal could even erupt, David Letterman immediately got in front of the situation and talked openly about his issues on his show. His action prevented an ugly media circus and, perhaps, ensuing litigation.

Best Media Execution – Every Organization Tweeting Breaking News

As a news junkie, I absolutely love the national and local news organizations that break news via Twitter. The short headlines and links to Web sites for more details use the medium well and give us, as customers, what we want more often – news about what we’re interested in, when we want it, how we want it, around the clock.

Best Trend – Multiplatform Strategies

When we started Tanner Friedman three years ago, we envisioned Strategic Communications as the way to tell stories and deliver messages across multiple platforms. Today, our clients are doing just that, as are many other successful communicators. We believe this trend is still in its early stages and look forward to developing it further in 2010, as still more new platforms become viable.