The PR Comeback Player of 2014 Is…

Shadow-Guy-Shrugging“Comeback Player of the Year” is always a heavy award to place on the mantle.

The win in that peculiar category usually goes to some hard luck story personified; a former star returning to a place of greatness that he or she once knew. Be they tales of tragic injury or some dude working at the local hardware store who gets a new chance to shine, these stories pull at the heartstrings during every annual holiday season.

But what about PR?

In an evolving world filled with new technologies, constant “lifehack” improvements, and a camera on every corner, what could the PR comeback story of an otherwise crappy year be? We members of the PRNewserverse think we have the perfect candidate…

Without further ado, here is the 2014 Comeback Player of the Year in public relations:


That’s right, America — it’s you!

Don’t call it a comeback, but you have been here for a few rough years with people losing confidence in your ability to play stern parent to the rest of the world. For a while, it seemed that America’s greatest skill was promoting the dregs of its own society on television.

In 2014, however, things seemed to change for the better. Here are a few examples:


1. ALS — Sure, you got tired of the videos after the 219th version, but you watched dozens of them anyway. People went to YouTube in droves just to see which famous person would douse him/herself in chilling water to raise a little coin for a cause many only know because of a certain famous baseball player.

The “catch people dunking themselves and daring others” campaign raised more than $100 million to become, in effect, the new Jerry Lewis telethon. More importantly, it proved that, while great ideas can go viral, one cannot truly “create virality” via self-produced video AKA “content.” Viral themes, like real-world viruses, become airborne and infect us all.


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2. Congress — The GOP takeover of the Senate was not the “change” referenced in President Obama’s 2008 campaign, but it was change nonetheless. That has to count for something, doesn’t it?

first amendment

3. The First Amendment —  Most First Amendment opinionators stick to the basics: religion, speech, press, government, freedom. Yet the fifth unalienable right in this amendment is “to peaceably assemble and to petition” — and from Washington to Ferguson to New York, thousands of Americans stood for something larger than themselves in 2014. As in any such situation, a few bad apples did threaten to reflect badly on the entire endeavor, but the protests felt more important this time than in recent years. They weren’t about a single activist-turned-pundit grandstanding for attention; they were large-scale calls for America to do better moving forward.

There are other reasons why we should all feel good about being a part of this planet despite the fact that 2014 was a discouraging year in so many ways. There are good people among us — smart, passionate people devoted to their own personal causes who can achieve great things when united under one banner.

Now we’d like to propose a New Year’s resolution for the PR world at large: gather under the “how to pitch real news” banner for 2015 in the interest of furthering our exhausting, invigorating and sometimes infuriating profession.

We might even be able to convince some of our journalist friends to pour ice water all over themselves in honor of that sentiment.

Publish date: December 29, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT