‘A Year to Forget or A Year to Learn?’ As We Faced Global Pandemic, Social Unrest, Misinformation, Disinformation, Presidential Election

We all know 2020 has certainly been anything but normal, and many of us are ready to put it behind us and move on. But, as one speaker asked at this year’s PRSA ICON, “Strategic Communications: Navigating A World Disrupted held virtually Oct. 26-29, is it “a year to forget or a year to learn?”

We can all hope to return to some normalcy but it is often the challenging, disruptive, anything-but-normal days and situations that we tend to remember the most and, many times, when we learn some important life lessons and change our future course. No doubt, we have learned a lot this year. Many PR practitioners have been thrust into leading crisis communications efforts, redefining how to communicate, reexamining diversity efforts, and reinventing themselves and the organizations they represent.

No matter what side you are on, we can all agree that misinformation and disinformation have been rampant. This was a common theme discussed at ICON 2020. It has been difficult to know what the truth is anymore. Some of the most trusted individuals, companies and media outlets have spread untruths and demonstrated bias. Some intentionally and others unintentionally.

As PR professionals, we must ensure we are not contributing to these falsehoods, but continuously asking the right questions, digging deeper, fact checking, acting as responsible advocates, providing objective counsel and being accountable. To do anything less stains our profession and what we stand for. Honesty is one of our key PRSA Code of Ethics values, which states “We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.” You are empowered, and obligated, to make the right decisions. Embrace these learnings from a difficult year and make a difference.

Thanks for all of those members who completed our chapter’s member survey. Your input is invaluable and will help shape future programs, communications and diversity & inclusion initiatives.

Check out and register for our upcoming virtual programs, including:

  • Member Appreciation Month – Did you miss Recharging Your Mind? You still can recharge your body and spirit. Not a member yet and want to join the fun? Join today and take advantage of the Triple Play deal (through Nov. 30).
    • Nov. 12, 5:30 p.m., Recharge Your Body with certified Yogi Julie Kohler, to experience how yoga combines physical exercises, mental meditation, and breathing techniques to strengthen the muscles and relieve stress. Get ready to move in front of your screen.
    • Nov. 18, 5:30 p.m., Recharge Your Spirit: Member Mixer. Grab your libation and join us for a fun virtual mixer. We’ve got some “Speed Meeting” secrets in store to get to know each other better, even if we can’t physically be together. Our PRSA Orlando spirit is sure to raise yours.
  • Nov. 19, 1 p.m. (networking at 12:45 p.m.) – Orlando Magic Get off the Bench. Get into the Game. Vote with Trish Wingerson, director of public relations. Learn how the Orlando Magic partnered with Vote.org to activate a multi-pronged voting initiative campaign to increase voter turnout and participation in the 2020 Census. It’s sure to be a slam dunk.
    • At the start of this program, all members will also be voting for our proposed 2021 PRSA Orlando Board Member slate.
  • Dec. 10, 5-6:30 p.m. – PRSA Gives Back Virtual Holiday Mixer fundraising event. Tickets/donations will go to the 2020 PRSA Orlando Hardship Fund Program.
  • Oct. 17-19, 2021PRSA Orlando proudly hosts ICON 2021 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Planning is already underway, and we will need your support. Stay tuned for more details.

Here’s to a year of learnings and new beginnings!

Rich Donley, APR
2020 President, PRSA Orlando Regional Chapter