Bubbling reception drinks at the majestic Hotel de Ville in Brussels Grand Place opened the 2013 EuroComm conference where 130 top international communication leaders gathered in the heart of the capital of Europe to learn, listen and network.
The three-day conference explored the critical theme of “Disruptive Communications in Disruptive Times”.
Held at the prestigious Solvay Brussels School, the event featured speakers from European institutions, global consultancies, academia, and multinationals. Many spoke in the context of a Europe still in the midst of economic turmoil and socio-political instability, particularly marked by recent events such as the Cyprus bailout and the failure of the Italian elections. With this background, everyone at EuroComm seemed to agree: communicators need to be on a journey of constant change to adapt to the IC future.
On Day One, Robert Madelin, Director General of the European Commission‘s DG Connect, presented his vision on how to brand a European future in an open, co-operative dynamic EU economic society. He explained this as five main pillars: Openness, Participation, Accountability, Effectiveness and Coherence.
Robert described the times we are currently living in as disruptive. He believes that communicators as well as political leaders need to become co-creators of change. He uses a metaphor to describe the future. “Where we are going is ambiguous and uncertain but if we're together we can make it work. It’s like a gin and tonic; heady, effervescent. You get to control the mix, but actually the future that we are trying to create is more like an estuary; where the river stop and the sea begins. Ours are liquid times.”
He believes communicators need to be as good at listening as they are at broadcasting their messages. He also advises using a mix of social media channels, and moving from press releases to twitter releases. “With new technology we can all be creative; co-creation is the best future for Europe. CEOs and public administrators need to become disrupters themselves to help rebrand their organisation’s image and break down the silos.”
Capitalise on disruption
In his presentation, Rav Dhaliwal, Customer Success Manager at Yammer, gave four recommendations for communicators to become disruptive using an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) to communicate across silos:
- Align on common goals and the value you provide.
- Organise around the processes we do for our work and our products.
- Empower employees to innovate on how they provide value in the job they already have; if they can adapt they would find better ways to provide values. Using ESN networking tools like Yammer is a good solution.
- Adapt to constant change.
Create radical change
On a similar note, Celine Schillinger, Director of Stakeholder Community at Sanofi Pasteur, recommended that delegates disrupt their own careers.
“Communicators need to quit their job, get into the business and then come back to solve real business problems. Otherwise they will only be putting the cherry on the cake, to make things look beautiful, rather than facilitating real change.”
She talked from her own experience of transforming Sanofi Pasteur into a more gender-balanced organization by creating a community for women from the bottom up, triggering radical change in a “big, old company”.
Ambassador Andebrhan Giorgis social media strategist Silvia Cambié both expressed a similar view on how the use of social media in conflicts can help people and organisations communicate their message to the outside world. The Ambassador was a freedom fighter in Eritrea and Cambié helped women bloggers in Egypt and Tunisia.
EuroComm in a sestude
Delegates were asked after the event to summarise their experience of EuroComm in 62 words, or a sestude, a concise form of writing that is gaining popularity. Below are a few of our favourites.
- "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. But we are living in ‘liquid times’. The rulebook no longer applies. Experiment! Be bold! Act first, apologise later if needs be. The risks: innovators become dinosaurs; agents of change become agents of control. Relinquish control of content production and seek collaboration for genuine and emotional engagement.” - Eleanor Hammond.
- “There was a lot of discussions about the role of the Communicator. What is it that we really do as communicators? We solve business problems! Communications is just a tool. So if we could put the B back in IABC and focus on solving business problems rather than communication problems, we would earn our way in the management team. It has been 2 great days with interesting people and meetings.” - Johan Ljungqvist
- “Lugano, Torino, Bruxelles - I keep coming back because of the people. EuroComm brings together an amazing group of senior influencers with a passion for communication. You get to hear from some amazing speakers. You get to connect and kick off new collaborations. It is all here – and if you think you could help make the next one happen, get in touch!” - Michael Ambjorn
What is EuroComm? It's all about meeting people, networking, learning new ideas ... Watch these short video clips from the 2013 EuroComm Conference to remind you what makes this event so special.
Introduction to EuroComm – meeting people, networking, learning new ideas.
Conference Theme: What do we do to meet the challenges these constant disruptions throw on us.
Andebrhan Giorgis – Conflict, Democracy and Communication
Our disruptive times can be characterised in many ways. One of the most controversial is the (perceived or actual) effects of the role social media in the ‘Arab Spring’.
Naomi Trickey – Brand watch and social media monitoring
How to create a programme for monitoring brands and their social media activities. Not listening is no longer a real option.
Neil Griffiths – The future of Professional Communication
Why Neil Griffiths is ‘bored’ with all the conversation on the ‘Future’ of our profession.
Silvie Cambie – Shrinking the World with Social Content
Silvie shares her personal journey from journalism in the newly formed Czech Republic, through social content and the Arab Spring and a colleague’s Nobel Prize, to the opportunities our new media ecology offers. All in all, a story well worth hearing.
Robert Madelin – Injecting the communication spirit
The socio-political environment in which the European Commission operates, and his ideas on how to best drive positive change in this environment.
Jaume Duch Guillot – Reconnecting with the Electorate
The need for European parliament to connect is now paramount. But, what do we even mean by 'connecting?'