The Communications Professional 3.0 - Wisdom, Courage, Empathy, Insight, and Foresight
Paul Holmes, the PR industry guru worldwide, founder and CEO of the Holmes Report & SABRE awards
Paul Holmes rendered another great talk at the Davos World Communication Forum's European session held in Prague!
Here are some key points marked by him as future trends of the public relations industry:
Empathy as a Key feature
What PR needs is Knowledge, Love and Courage. The latter is just the starting point, as in our transparent world, where values like integrity and engagement are very important, you have to have Empathy. The most important thing for PR people is understanding how relations really work. If you are good at PR, there is no need to worry about ethics or morality – you just do what you feel is right and what you have to do, and everything comes out naturally.
Marketing evolves into PR
We have to use big data in order to improve and inform what it is that we do. PRs should become better at that - those who know about data will control the future. Hence, the old Tug-of-War: Marketing mindset is still on “how do we fake this data in the most authentic way possible?” while public relations people have already become better storytellers. In terms of budget, the marketing department could easily find out today that the communications unit will fight for tooth and nail. Marketing is bound to evolve into public relations – PR is responsible for handling the relations with all stakeholder groups, while marketing is just now expanding to encompass them.
Social media + CSR = Engagement
Social media shouldn't be about shouting your message over and over or constant eavesdropping. It should be about engaging your public. If you get it wrong, you'll be caught far more quickly and punished far more severely, no matter how intensively you 'listen' to online talk. Social media should be about empathy, engaging, and positive contribution – both for the society and the business. Companies should not be doing CSR because it is a nice thing to do, but because it can help to build their industry, moreover – it should be done on time. Just contrast Apple's lack of CSR with Microsoft's great CSR (Paul admitted, though, that he also uses an iPhone!). Even in hard times, companies need to do CSR now, not in 3-years' time!
Brand depends on employees
You can't build your brand without engaging with your employees. Today employees have profound influence on the company image and reputation, and they have become the company’s ambassadors. A prime example is the Thomas Cook re-branding campaign: http://www.allthingsic.com/thomascookic/
Paul also predicted the dissolving of the in-house PR (it's not just newspapers that are doomed!) - according to him, in the next five years the profession of the communications officer is likely to disappear. :)
Communicator 3.0 - Research and Planning
Nick Andrews, Senior Vice President and Senior Partner, Fleishman-Hillard (Belgium)
Nick Andrews kicks off with a super slide showing the first "Communicator 1.0" (a robot!), then passes on to the "amazing wonders of tomorrow" (UFY), only to get us far back into time with the famous Catherine The Great and her epistolary relationship with an equally great philosopher - Denis Diderot!
Enjoy a presentation that focuses on the first major requirement that modern Communicators 3.0 are faced with today: Research and Planning. In his talk Nick also touches the issue with today's abundance of data. Too much data can hamper Marketing and PR decisions and is not quite the key to solutions. "It doesn't matter how much data you have at hand, it will not give you the right answer", shares Mr. Andrews. Given the right tools, skills and time, data shouldn't be hard to collect, but it still wouldn't suffice - it's the approach to it that matters.
Local Relevance, Global Presence
Ladislav Cervenka, Corporate Communication team member and Senior Consultant for Central & Eastern Europe at Unilever Europe
"Key issue today is how to keep the consistency in the messages we need to deliver", says Mr. Cervenka. He also adds: "We still haven't quite managed to find a satisfactory solution for the smaller markets around the globe."
In his presentation, Mr. Cervenka utters a catchy, yet very important question: Globalization or Glocalization? Check the slides to find the answer. Learn about two of the main features necessary for Communicators 3.0 - Local Relevance & Global Presence.
Creativity. Digital and Visual Communications
Richard Chinn, Senior strategist at Wolff Olins (UK)
Richard Chinn, a top European expert passionate about the potential that technology can bring into modern branding, focuses on creativity as a combination of art and design applied to culture, and also as one of the key features required for the future Communicator 3.0, alongside with the following several main skills:
- Research and Planning + Accountavbility
- Local Relevance and Global Presence
- Creativity + Digital and Visual Communications
To Richard the creative potential itself is not a capacity of the individual, but rather a feature intrinsic in a team - that particular invisible thing which actually sparks conversations and provokes ideas! "Creativity is not a single-person's attribute, it's the platform that engages all kinds of conversations", he says.
Watch this presentation with two great examples: Spotify - Music for Every Moment and How Do You Stay On Top of Climate Change?
Changes in companies. Behaviour changes. The communications professional's role in internal communications
Dr. Leandro Herrero, CEO of The Chalfont Project Ltd. and Managing Partner of Viral Change Global LLP
Re-Mark-Able (term used in the very presentation) Keynote by the author of the best-sellers "Viral Change" and "Homo Imitans" - Dr. Leandro Herrero!
“The answer to the new communications professional's role in the modern corporate organisation is not just a mere adaptation of this role in the company structure, but rather its creative reinvention", says Dr. Herrero. "There are no-man's lands and organisational areas where the communications professional could definitely thrive and take the lead. The opportunity for the rise of the New Communications Professional has never been greater!”
The presentation focuses on some interesting trends in communications, among which:
- communications as curators of the informal organization and networks
- communications seen from "outside the tribe" (or: including the periphery)
- observation of the new urban social anthropology, rather than focus on outdated cultural differences
- study and research on social movements for a better understanding on how to motivate people
- brand seen as a behavioural DNA pull
- communications encouraging change, taking into consideration that the latter is driven by behaviour management and good examples
- messages based on behaviour studies - i.e. causing due action
- "Less is More" approach: simple messages that push actual behavioural changes
Two of the excellent examples given by Dr. Herrero:
- The sign "9 out of 10 visitors don't litter" cut down pollution, while the sign "Don't Litter" didn't.
- A hotel advice "Most clients use 1 towel during their stay" caused significant drop in towel-use, when the sign "Please, help us save water and fold the towel, if you don't need it to be changed" had no effect.
Reputation and the Communications Leader
Terry O'Connor, Head of Communications at Science and Technology Facilities Council (UK)
As Terry O'Connor shares, for him "the focus is always: Reputation!".
A presentation that proves the rising importance of communications and advocates that they should not (and do not) happen only in the Board room nowadays: each leader has to face the staff in order to secure the long-term well-being of the organization. Tradition is not always recommendable, so don't be afraid to question it, aim for simplicity, never let doubts put you off, and you will accomplish your goal as Communicator.
To cut it short: How do you get to be a genuine leader? Ěr. O'Connor's advice: "Stop asking why and start giving answers!"
Getting the Balance Right - Leading and Managing in PR
Valery Levchenko, Deputy Editor in Chief RIA Novosti (Russia)
Valery Levchenko touches a very sensitive point in in-house corporate communications - how to maintain the balance in leadership and management?
Beginning with a slide with the Leadership Role Ladder for today's PR, he moves onto the key philosophy of his talk - "Less is More": the fewer people in a team, the easier a leader can manage them, the more a chief manager bosses the employees, the less he/she is a genuine leader. Next key point: while social media is about gaining vast audiences, true leadership is about achieving a grand goal with the help of your employees.
Levchenko's simple advice: "If we try to manage people with fewer words, then we’re sure to be much more successful as leaders!"
PR People - Stuck between the Business and the Stakeholders?
Istvan Kutas, Corporate Communications Director at Telenor Hungary Zrt. (Hungary)
In this presentation, Mr. Kutas discusses several key points related to Communications and Management: senior PR people are often stuck between their external and internal stakeholders and between their roles as advisers and business leaders. Is there a way to dissolve this dichotomy? Is there a right way to balance between these roles?
"PR people have a boundary-spanning role" is Istvan Kutas's strong belief. He also shares his own experience as a chief in-house communications officer: "In very few occasions I have managed to get to the Board room and push a strategy without any crisis."
Global Communications and Local Trust: The Custmers' Journey
Senta Cermakova, Worldwide Customer Program Service Director Hewlett-Packard
What would be the most appropriate example for reaching out to your customers? Well, as Senta well puts it, the Customers' Journey is not about "what you say", but rather about "what they hear". Watch this presentation with an outstanding Watermelon-Pieces-Cycle chart on how to "feed your audiences" and help them make the best choice!
"Digital content and social media put brands and individuals at the same level" is Ms Cermakova's belief.
Top insights shared in this presentation:
- Trust today is like a Playground, where each player knows and follows the rules.
- Know your clients' touch-points, be agile, and lead.
Global Communications and Local Trust
Dr. Gabor Hegyi, Founder and Managing Director of Capital Communications (Hungary)
Dr. Hegyi focuses on the crucial importance of Trust - the actual PR currency.
In today's connected world being truly global means communicating with your local audience, markets or customers right down to the individual level. Public Relations and Communications officers should also speak to the customers and earn their trust in the very local terms these customers can easily understand and accept. Dr. Hegyi's belief: "Companies become truly global only by learning to communicate in local terms!"
The Russian Experience - Internet Regulations: Copyright. Privacy. Digital & Social Aspects.
Yanina Dubeykovskaya, WCFDavos Committee co-Chair and Content Director, International Cooperation Coordinator at RAEC
"For us as professional communicators, the Web is a main channel", shares Yanina Dubeykovskaya in her capacity as International Ambassador of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications.
In her talk she advocates the belief that everything that happens online is knowledge - she focuses on Internet Availability as the right of every human, same as the right to clean water supply or sufficient food, while voicing the actual Russian situation from the viewpoint of business, media, government, and society, and touching on the following issues:
- copyright regulations and the principle of free and open distribution of content
- censorship of content due to political, ethical, or age restrictions
- cyber security and privacy
- legislation for personal data protection
The presentation utters a call is for a self-regulated market, self-regulated users, and a sufficient number of Internet and Communications experts who should monitor these processes and influence their legislation.
Recipe for Successful Life (real life-story shared)!
James Gillies, Head of Communications at CERN
The true life-story of a top industry leader - James Gillies, Head of Communications at CERN (Switzerland), shared by himself before the audience!
A successful professional career from Oxford University and Research into PR and Communications of Science - ideas, beliefs, values, crisis periods, insight gained, and solutions for a happy life.
Mr. Gillies's talk resembled very much the TED format: lights-off and large screen projection, casting a magic spell over the audience and rendering an excellent mixture of wit, wisdom, professionalism, insight, knowledge, the gripping clarity of which can only provoke and inspire!