Do you remember?

Let’s play a quick game. Feel free to grab a pen and paper, open a word doc or just use your head, but take a few minutes and write down or try to recall the biggest news stories of 2013. Yes, 2013, not 2014. Go ahead; I will give you some time. And no cheating!

So, how do you think you did? Did you even come up with 10? Are you sure everything you wrote down was from 2013?

If you want to compare your list to one such list, try this one:http://tinyurl.com/mkyu3xe.

I will admit, when I looked at this list, I forgot most of these events happened just a year – or a little more than a year – ago. Some of them seemed longer than just a year and others seem like yesterday.

This exercise reminded me of a valuable element for communications today: past events are going to mean different things to different audiences now more than ever before.

When I was looking at this list of top news events, I was amazed at the ones that I forgot about completely or ones that didn’t even interest me at the time that they were occurring. Yet, others, I was enthralled with when they were happening.

The biggest takeaway from this for communication professionals is to be very careful when referencing historical events as examples for your messaging. It is critical to make sure that the example is relevant or something that the audience can identify with easily.

This is also true when you consider demographics including age, sex and religion. Different events might have more resonating effects on some people more than others.

As news and information continues to come to us at a lightning-fast pace, it is important to keep up with the significant events of the recent past to determine how people shape messages that they receive by marketers.