EuroComm Blog now closed

February 19th, 2008

by Yang-May Ooi

Thanks everyone for visiting the EuroComm Blog over the last few months and thanks in particular to those of you who subscribed.

It is now two weeks after the conference and we’ve had some great reviews and feedback on the blog as well as behind the scenes via email, Twitter and personal conversations. It sounds like many people took away a lot of useful information and made some valuable connections so that’s the best that we could hope for!

Thanks to all our bloggers who contributed to the success of this blog and also to the speakers for giving their time and sharing their expertise.

In particular, thanks to Silvia Cambie and the team at La Salle who worked so hard to make this conference run so smoothly and successfully.

This blog is now bowing out.

See you at next year’s EuroComm!

EuroComm on For Immediate Release podcast

February 17th, 2008

IABC member Ronna Porter, director at Sound Strategies, gives an audio report on the EuroComm conference on Neville Hobson’s For Immediate Release podcast.

You can go to the FIR site to listen to the report by clicking on the FIR logo below:


More Reviews of EuroComm

February 14th, 2008

A number of communicators who attended EuroComm have blogged their impressions on their blogs:

Kevin Keohane, client partner at Publicis SAS, writes 888 words from EuroComm 2008:

A good conference. My personal highlights were Suzanne Salvo’s (Salvo Photography) session on the ethics of photo manipulation and Ramon Olle Jr.’s presentation on the new face of consumer branding. And, of course, the ample and various networking opportunities that the conference schedule so insightfully provided – plenty of time between sessions rather than a quick cuppa and off to the next session. It’s the space in-between that glues these things together so well. Read more

Mike Klein, Communication Consultant, writes of Bubblings in Barcelona:

Now that I’ve recovered from the “mother of all head colds” that I caught in Barcelona while “partying and socializing at an Olympic level” (thanks to World Cup skier Bode Miller for that great line), I’d like to share a few of the major takeaways from IABC EuroComm in Barcelona: Read more

Silvia Cambie, Past President of IABC Europe/ Middle East and organiser of EuroComm, writes about life After Barcelona on her blog:

I think I am suffering from anti-climax.

I believe that’s what it is, because it feels like facing a big blank space and I have this urge to go out and buy myself a teddy bear.

I just came back from Barcelona where I chaired EuroComm 2008, IABC’s annual conference for the Europe/Middle East region.

I worked on this event for about nine months together with my IABC colleagues and the team at La Salle University… and I can’t believe it’s all over now. Read more

If you’ve blogged about EuroComm, please get in touch so we can add a link to your post here.

Losing Control

February 13th, 2008

by Yang-May Ooi

Last week the IABC’s EuroComm Conference 2008 took place in Barcelona, where I chaired the plenary panel discussion on social media. I was joined by co-panellists Giles Colborne of cxpartners, a web usability expert, and Marc Wright of, an internal communications specialist. We had a really good session, which was primarily the result of great comments and challenges from the 80 or so business communicators taking part in the session. I just want to focus here on one issue that emerged from the discussions, which I think reflects the main concern of businesses around social media: control.

When we asked the delegates what was preventing their businesses engaging in the social media, the main reason appeared to be an anxiety about losing control. If you have a blog or social network space, people can come and leave negative comments. If you allow your employees to use social media for internal communications, they could spread seeds of discontent internally. Social media tools also make it easier for staff to leak your internal discussions externally. If you offer spaces for user-generated content, you can lose control of the content and message.

But we also discussed how control is an illusion in the brave new world of social media. There could be people out there already expressing negative views about your business or brand on other social media spaces even if you don’t have a business presence on the blogosphere. Your staff are already able to sign up to Facebook or set up their own blogs at home, even if you block them at work. Leaks occur with email as easily as via any other internet or intranet tool. Someone could be filming you or any of your executives with their mobile phone camera even now, capturing your pratfall or offguard comment to be served up on YouTube for the world to see. Employers are doing internet searches of potential recruits as an add-on to the traditional ways of doing background checks - will they find that photo of you taken by a friend at your cousin’s wedding with someone’s knickers on your head?

For businesses who are worried about controlling the message about their product or services, the least you can do is monitor what the online is saying about you even if you decide never to engage in social media. And if you do engage with a blog or other social media tool, that can actually help enhance your reputation especially if you engage in an authentic way. The community you build around your blog will come to trust, respect and like you and loyalty can count for a great deal in times of crisis.

For individuals, the question is: will we always have to be “on” not just when we engage online but wherever we are because we never know when someone may capture us unawares on digital media? This is a much more challenging issue. It is impossible to be perfectly behaved all the time - that’s just a fact of being human. And perhaps we have to trust that people know that - and that in the long term, people seeing someone’s mistake displayed on YouTube will recognise that it’s just a very human momentary lapse, especially if there are other images of that person online that counter lapse. Perhaps in this early period of the mobile phone video, there’s a lot of press and publicity about this issue because it’s novel but that in the long term, there won’t be such a hoo-ha because there’ll be so many unremarkable human failings available to view online. Or perhaps we will all have to hire public relations consultants to help us with reputation management in the future, whether we are Britney Spears or just an ordinary non-celebrity…

We did not reach any solid conclusions during the discussion, only that this is one debate that is going to contine.

What are your thoughts?

Photo: of car wreck thanks to OpenSkyMedia from (CCL)

EuroComm Highlights

February 12th, 2008

by Audrey Scarff

pedrera.jpg This week I had the fantastic opportunity to absorb some interesting and sometimes contentious ideas (Second Life is Dead?) from the high calibre speakers and 100 or so participants. A key benefit was participating with such a diverse group of communications professionals. Well done to the IABC for saving trees and providing some great resources on the conference CD.

Some highlights from the speakers include Jean Stephenne’s keynote and a possible cure for malaria from GlaxoSmithKline. He rightly observes that there’s no security in anonymity anymore for global companies. Let’s face it, everyone knows who you are anyway so you have to play by the new rules (think Web 2.0 interactions with advocate groups).

He also claims to have found a vaccine against old age – where can we get some?! I think he and fellow speaker Charles Gancel should get together and talk about a solution to the senior management shortage.

A running theme for the external-communications focussed talks that I went to, such as Ulrich Gartner from Electrolux and the sensational plenary session by Ramon Olle, was that you don’t have to spend millions to build your brand. Phew! say all the SMEs. It’s often a bit hit and miss (eg. Ford’s Finding the Jones’ YouTube series) but really worth it when you get it right (Happy Pills viral marketing success and Electrolux’s Big Brother influenced kitchen show, again on YouTube).

Charles Gancel says there’s more head hunting going on today because of retiring baby boomers and consequently a senior management shortage. This brings up the need for even better knowledge management, and retention of talent. It highlights the importance of change communication professionals and good intranets.

I found the term ‘institutionalised communicators’ quite amusing – conjuring up pictures of communicators in straight-jackets. Seriously though, with Social Media/ Web 2.0 you have to let go or risk an audience backlash. I also noticed a quiet undertone of suspicion amongst some of the audience to the very term ‘social media’ – many believe this type of thing has always been here, it’s just taken a different shape in the form of wiki and blogs, etc.

With such an interesting mix of topics and people, these ideas became fruit for further discussion over a bottle or two of rioja. What I particularly appreciate about the IABC event is that it is friendly and non-commercial; although a tremendous amount of networking goes on, it’s not about feeling pressured to buy something, it’s more about sharing with and learning from your peers. In a gorgeous location like Barcelona, who doesn’t want that!

This article first appeared in the IABC Europe/ Middle East newsletter

EuroComm Success

February 11th, 2008

by Jennifer Lewis (France)

guell.jpg Under the theme of the Barcelona architect, Gaudi, and his colorful mosaics, 100 communicators gathered for two days to explore innovation through communications. The Eurocomm Conference speakers successfully challenged the international audience to consider everything from training scientists as communicators to using a party metaphor for social networking.

The audience heard from award winners, a philosopher, agency leaders, good old practitioners and even a musician. Tales of audience segmentation, blogs gone right and wrong, how to make managers accountable for cascading and using the brand to teach consumers how to buy all found welcoming ears.

Change communications, affecting nearly 100% of attendees, was rounded off with a simple measurement criterion suggestion by UK speaker Russell Grossman. Why not just target the day when employees look back and say, “I can’t believe we ever did it like that?”

Lots of networking opportunities were built into the agenda and Spanish tapas refreshments lured everyone to the table. La Salle University served as a gracious host and involved the next generation of communicators as volunteers to take our coats and direct us on campus.

A number of presentations helped us think about old and new definitions. Communications is based on the Latin- to share. Branding has its roots in burning- originally to prevent theft of animals. Followership should be people’s response to good leadership. Lastly, what’s a Buzz Director? That’s the employee who guards the CEO’s reputation on-line and off.

This article first appeared in the IABC Europe/ Middle East newsletter

Social Media Panel - Slides and Resources

February 4th, 2008

You can download the slides from the Social Media Panel discussion on 04 Feb 2008 from the “box” below. You will also find in the “box” some other resources, including the e-version of the handout plus newsletters and an information sheet about CEO speeches on YouTube.

Or, if you prefer, you can also access the slides and resources by clicking on the following link -

If you have any queries or would like us to email you the documents, please contact us using the Contact link above.

Getting Ready for EuroComm

February 1st, 2008

by Yang-May Ooi

The EuroComm Conference will be starting on Monday 4 Feb and run through to lunchtime on Tuesday. I know that a number of communicators will be arriving in Barcelona over the weekend, ready for a fresh start on Monday morning. I think there’s going to be a great vibe there and I’m personally looking forward to seeing a number of IABC friends from the European region as well as meeting some of the blog contributors I’ve been in touch with over the last few months.

On Sunday morning, I’ve been invited to join the IABC Think Tank to brainstorm some ideas and look ahead over the next five years at the challenges and trends that will be facing communicators. That’s going to be a good session, I’m sure. In particular, I’m going to be interested to hear what my colleagues from across the region are excited and / or concerned about for the profession over the coming years.

Hopefully, we’ll have some blog posts in the next couple of weeks after the conference with people’s thoughts about the key issues that came out for them through the various sessions. If you’d like to contribute your responses to the conference in the form of an article for this blog, please do email us via the Contact page. Or you can add a comment to this or any of the blog posts.

The Next Big Thing: Video Conversations

January 31st, 2008

by Yang-May Ooi for live streaming from cell-phones and for video conversations, will take social media to a whole new level. What are they? How do they work? And will 2008 be the Year of Video Conversations?

This was first posted on my blog last week.

If you have difficulty viewing the video on this page, try the following alternative sites:

Does culture still matter in today’s global world?

January 30th, 2008

by Hanna Kalla

“Cultures are storehouses of cultural tools to which people have different levels of access and usage. A truly versatile person can make use of tools from quite a variety of storehouses, others would be somewhat more limited.” (Scollon, 1997)

hanna.jpg I would like to think that I am a global citizen of the world having spent most of my life hopping across the continents. When I am asked where I am from though, I find it a little difficult. I was born in Finland but left when I was nine. I was brought up in Africa, and then continued my schooling in Switzerland followed by the US. Wanting to see more of the world, I moved to Asia to discover the secrets of tea ceremony. I have now found my way back to Europe and call England home. But where am I from? The short answer is that I am Finnish but not from Finland. My outlook on life is culturally mixed but if you ask my friends and colleagues, they can still see some Finnish cultural traits in me. So, although my cultural heritage does not define me, it is a part of me. Just because many of us work for global businesses, travel extensively, and have access to the same international news sites, does not erase our cultural backgrounds which impact on our behaviour. If we are lucky though, we are better at accessing those cultural storehouses and using the tools we find within them.

Culture can be a really powerful tool that enables you to form connections. And here it is worth clarifying that culture can be based on your nationality, professional identity, organisational values or another common association. Culture goes much beyond the easily observable dress, ethnicity and language to penetrate all the way to our basic assumptions and beliefs. However, cultural differences can also cause obstacles when people hold different expectations of normal behaviour without allowing for alternate styles of communication. Even simple words can have many interpretations based on different cultural contexts. For example, in Europe we use ‘yes’ to mean “I agree”, whereas in Japan it means “I am listening”. You can just imagine the kind of miscommunication that can lead to.

Looking at tools such as Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions is a great starting point to discovering some of those cultural differences that can be found between different nationalities. I have also carried out research in this field and discovered some very interesting things about micro-cultures and diversity in the workplace. So, is diversity good or bad? That really depends on what you are trying to accomplish… But, I think we can say that despite equalisers such as McDonalds, Starbucks and Nike, culture is still a very important ingredient of today’s global world.

Hanna Kalla (U.K.) is Senior Consultant, Change and Internal Communications at Hill & Knowlton. She joined Hill & Knowlton from Nokia, where she managed internal communications globally for a leading business programme. Prior to that she worked for Nokia Japan where she advised senior managers on intercultural issues affecting multi-site operations. During her time at Nokia, Hanna also studied the strategic role of internal communications in relation to social networks, knowledge sharing, and diversity. Hanna’s background also includes working in account management for Young & Rubicam in New York, and several short projects at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva.


Hanna will be speaking at the EuroComm conference with her colleague Sam Berrisford.

Sam Berrisford (U.K.) is Senior Consultant, Change and Internal Communications at Hill & Knowlton. Before joining Hill & Knowlton, he
worked at Royal Mail Group and more recently at the BBC. Here he helped develop and implement a range of strategic, culture change and internal marketing initiatives. As well as the media sector Sam has worked in the logistics, financial services, petrochemical, utility and public sectors. Sam has a background in broadcast journalism. He is a performance coach and creative facilitator and has published articles on many aspects of business and stakeholder communications.

Hanna and Sam will be presenting on:

Differences, Similarities and the Cultural Question

This session explores various issues related to cross-cultural communication and their relevance for both internal and external ommunications. With the help of academic research and case studies, the presenters will discuss the roots of culture and its influence on the way people work together joined by a common purpose, both within and across organisations. They will look
at the process of ‘acculturation’ and examine the willingness to accept change as well as organisational flexibility and adaptability.
Against the background of brand globalisation and the internet, the presenters will examine the influence of culture on mergers and acquisitions. They will also discuss the techniques used by major global corporations that have to manage across diverse geographies.