For the first time in living memory the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was unable to choose one singular word to encapsulate the year that was, but rather expanded its annual selection to a whole list, describing it as the year that has left us all speechless.

Quite a disconcerting reality for communicators whose vocation relies on speech and language to deliver successful outcomes for our clients!

But perhaps that is what 2020 has taught us, to expand ourselves in the face of great adversity and prove our capability to adapt when uncertainty is really the only certain.

Here are some of our key learnings from a year that needed a whole suite of words to describe it:

Supporting our clients

First and foremost, this year, as every year, our boutique communications consultancy focused on our clients. We have helped some find their voice as a cacophony of conjecture enveloped the entire media landscape; yet others opted for an inward approach, preferring to focus on internal stakeholder engagement. Madden was kept busy running bespoke key messaging sessions and media training to prepare clients for the right time to lift their public discourse.

From COVID to recessions to rogue US presidents, Madden adapted (or to use another popular phrase, ‘pivoted’) to deliver great outcomes. Although this has not come without its challenges, we feel the pace required to change course has made us stronger as client service providers and better communicators.

Two ears one mouth

If we could describe one word to capture the sentiment of the year within communications, we would say listening was our ally. Listening and actually hearing what was being communicated was crucial in the pursuit of brand reputation. Rather than catapulting headfirst into the hysteria we tried to take a step back and understand our client’s situation to deliver targeted solutions sympathetic to their purpose and commercial imperatives.

This mentality was also applied internally, where through a period of great change we were able to listen to each other and identify some key fixes to provide a better working environment. Which further enabled us to perform better for our clients.

Adapted our expectations of a workplace

Our team adapted to remote working with relative ease.  As a boutique this was much easier to achieve then some larger firms within the industry and for that we are grateful for our agility. This flexibility will also be carried onto the new year, a sentiment which is predominantly shared across our client portfolio.

We have experienced greater efficiency with time management ie limiting travel time by hosting Zoom calls, becoming more environmental by reducing our paper output and generally being more disciplined in the boundaries we set between work and home.

And while we are excited to start 2021 with a few more face to face meetings we are also excited by the hybrid model of home and CBD office HQ working to which we have now adapted.

Isolation, dooms scrolling, and lockdown are all words now in the common vernacular, yet mostly and thankfully we have survived.  As we commence the Festive season of celebration, upon reflection perhaps 2020 was not the year to expect everything we may want, but rather a year to be thankful for everything we have.