Every year the Super Bowl showcases what should be the best creative work. This work should serve as a call to action for advertisers to reach higher standards every time they make an ad. There were some this year deserving of an A, but there were also some stinkers who get Fs.

The year 2020 was the year of amazing PR blunders. Ironically, if you take the six worst examples of last year, PR practitioners agree that they were self-inflicted. When will we learn? Once again, history is repeatable – executives failed to apply the most basic principles of crisis and reputation management.

My list has six mind boggling“fails.”

This year, I again am turning to the words of one of my idols to set my agenda for 2021. Ever since Mary Schmich began her column for the Chicago Tribune in the early 1990s I have been an avid follower. She’s an amazing writer. Funny, wise and charming are words that have been used to describe her. She touches so many lives. As Andrew Donlan of Medill Reports says, “without her work, Chicago – and the rest of the world- would be a little bit dimmer of a place. That is why for my New Year’s message I am going to pass on some of her thoughts on a guiding word for the year. 

Eight years ago a reader told Mary about her guiding word habit. Each January since, Mary has written a column about her word. She says a guiding word is not a resolution. It’s gentler. It’s more like a friend standing by the side of the road with a map, saying “When you get lost, think of me and I’ll help you get back on track.” A guiding word is your personal trainer. It fortifies your will when you’re feeling weak. 

Around 2005 people were running around saying trade shows were dead. Everything was going to be virtual. Ironically after that panic, trade shows or face-to-face marketing grew faster than ever. Beyond the value of seeing and feeling product at booths, face-to-face meetings have long been seen as critical to building trust. People buy from those they trust. 

Well, here we are in the middle of a pandemic. Trade Shows and their companion events and conferences are being cancelled every day. Even if face-to-face events are able to return by fall the rules of engagement will be much different – social distancing, one-way aisles, limited numbers of attendees and lots of space between booths.

For the time being, this leaves organizers rolling out or considering the option of virtual events.

A year ago one of my heroes, Mark Albert who was editorial director of Modern Machine Shop, retired. Over the years he taught me many important lessons about machining, but others about life.  

It is this time each year that I revisit his year-end 2016 column on recalibrating for the new year. The holiday noise has started to quiet and it's time for me to take Mark's wise advice as I come off a tough year and step (bravely, I hope) into 2020. 

As Mark so aptly put it, it's a time to adjust my outlook and expectations. Following in his footsteps I am going to choose three words at work and three words at home that will help me reset, or recalibrate. 

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