EuroComm Highlights

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

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