Now some weeks into the Covid-19 crisis, we are beginning to get a clearer picture of what it means for us all from a work and personal perspective. We talk to Kim Larsen, EACD’s Managing Vice-President, about what effects it’s having on the EACD programme and how members can get involved.

 

With the cancellation of the Annual Summit, how is the EACD planning to continue its programme of activities for members?

Obviously, the corona crisis is both heartbreaking and devastating in many ways – and will have a lasting effect on communities everywhere. But every disruption also comes with opportunities – for the EACD one of them is that the need for social distancing forces us to accelerate our efforts to become truly digital.  We are lucky that we have digital tools to enable most of us to work and engage online and the Association was already looking at how it could improve its digital platform. We want to ensure our community stays connected on an ongoing basis and improve how we connect.

One way is through webinars. We’ve now held two (see the report in this issue on the 27 March one on Communication in an age of COVID-19 – What can we learn from existing data?, which welcomed 130 active participants).

We will be continuing with a programme of regular bi-weekly Friday webinars to engage with our members and ensure that they don’t miss out on key insights from the Summit programme and theme of transformation: Beyond the Horizon. We will be reaching out to our speakers on what that transformation really means – both in the wider context of societal changes, and for our discipline in terms of ensuring we have the adaptable skills, sustainable business practices and leadership to manage and communicate that change.

The speakers’ articles and webinars will be shared on an ongoing basis through the newsletter and website and will keep everyone informed about the upcoming programme. We are also aiming to include them in a print issue of Communication Director, intended for print later in the year.

Even when normalcy returns and we can get together again as a community at National Chapter meetings and pan-regional events, we intend to continue to invest in our digital community and outreach resources.

 

EACD has been undergoing a lot of transformation too recently. What is driving the change?

The Association has been very successful since its creation in 2006. We have a strong brand, a diverse membership base and in many ways have become the go-to place for all aspects of the conversation on communications in Europe. We’re very proud of the role we have played in providing events that bring our community together and drive new ideas, as well as the mentoring programmes and latest research and insights which help us all grow.

But the world is now in a very different place from 2006. Corporates have realised that they need to step up and play a leading role in the transformation to a more socially and environmentally sustainable way of working and living. The communications discipline has also changed quite a bit: it has become more important and more challenging and the EACD wants to reflect that and drive and shape the conversation as well as support the communications community to do the same. I don’t think it has ever been more interesting to be in communications or corporate affairs, but it is also more complex than ever before. To succeed we need to share ideas, exchange views and learn from each other. That is why the EACD, in my view, is more important than ever, but also why we need to organise ourselves a little differently.

 

Becoming a real collaborative community

We want to become less of a hierarchical organisation and more of a real community and platform for collaboration, where it is easy for members to come together to discuss and co-operate on the things that matter the most to them. To be able to do that, we need to be more inclusive and transparent and inspire more people to be involved in more things. This is also in line with feedback from our member survey in 2017.

We have a lot of very dedicated, skilled and passionate members from all sectors of society from all over Europe and we can and should make it much easier for them to be active.  We have taken the first steps in that direction by partnering with a new service provider MCI and a little task force of our members have convened to look at the next phase for our networked community. We will hear from them shortly. However, I am not going to lie: the transition has been and continues to be challenging. Change takes time. There are still a lot of things that we need to improve such as our digital platform, but we are working on it and making a lot of progress.

 

What that means for the Board

We need a diverse board that is representative of our members and our discipline and which consists of people who are passionate about what we do and about helping the EACD become an even stronger voice in and facilitator of our community. We have high ambitions and a lot to do. So, we would aim to have a more active board, with clear division of roles and responsibilities.

The General Assembly, which is normally held in connection with the annual summit, will go ahead virtually in May, where we will be discussing our progress and plans and electing new board members.

I therefore encourage everybody, irrespective of job level, sector, geography or experience, who might be interested in being an active board member to get in touch with myself or our Advisory Director Inge Wallage to learn more.

Kim: [email protected]            Inge: [email protected]

 

About Kim Larsen

Kim Larsen is EVP, Head of Group Brand, Marketing and Communications at Danske Bank He has almost 20 years of experience in strategic communications across internal and external disciplines. Prior to joining Danske Bank Kim spent 12 years on the agency side including as Managing Director for Denmark at Burson-Marsteller, where he consulted for a wide range of regional and international clients in reputation management, issues and crisis management, and public affairs.