I'm supposed to be doing some report writing today, so picking up the blog after a few months of inactivity probably isn't a bad way to get back into the swing after a few days' break. I realise I haven't written anything on here since September - not through lack of interest, but through having been too busy both on the comms side and on the academic side to have the time to put the thought into making any sense on here. Now though, we're just a few days from the end of 2011 and it's not a bad time to reflect on a curious year.
Business-wise, I'm finishing the year strongly. Unilever has been a fantastic new client this year, the Adecco Group has kept me busy across several of their brands and agencies such as ArtHaus and Gatehouse have both put interesting work my way. I've picked the odd one-off piece up too - with a small piece for World Vision sticking in the mind. On the flipside, Diageo has been very quiet and some of my regulars from the past few years either are no longer in existence or have reduced their comms work significantly. While there are some signs of growth and recovery in some industries, it's patchy and inconsistent.
My year has definitely been one of two halves. The first was pretty poor, with a lot of scratching around for new work and a rather linear flow to what I was involved in. The second half has been much stronger with a mix of facilitation, training delivery, writing and editing for a range of electronic media and even a few smallish pieces of consultancy work. For the first time in about two years I even had to turn some work down as I didn't have the capacity to deliver it. That's always bittersweet, but at least this time I was able to pass it on to a connection.
I have been courted for a number of interim projects and came close mid-year to taking on a year's contract that looked as though it would have a foot both in comms and in academia. However, the actuality didn't really live up to the billing and the prospect of working with the most unctuous person I've yet to come across in the industry convinced me to stay clear.
I've built on my teaching at Brunel University and am convening a module on US History this academic year. This is tremendously rewarding (other than financially!) but probably has held back my PhD work as I strive to keep at least a week ahead of the students. That said, I've just had my first full academic paper published, and the reaction so far though minimal, is positive.
Looking ahead to 2012, I have one retained, client which is always good, though we're still negotiating what that retainer should be! There's the prospect of both a White Paper and a corporate magazine to keep me busy through January and February, but after that, who knows?
I feel that business-wise I'm in a slightly better position than a year ago, but still feel a month or two behind where I should be to feel comfortable. It has been a tough 12 months with the prospect of another toughie to come. But, in March, I'll celebrate a dozen years outside corporate life - and I'm not about to give up yet!