The new EACD Board was elected in June 30th General Assembly. We asked the individual board members to address the following three points:

  1. your views on where the function/profession is heading/should be heading
  2. your views on (differentiation of) EACD
  3. what you would like to contribute

You can also visit our board page for an overview.

 

Kim Larsen – President

In an increasingly polarised, fragmented and constantly changing world, communications is more important than ever for any organisation that wants to be truly successful. As communications professionals we have an important role in facilitating dialogue and creating shared understanding between a multitude of internal and external stakeholders, shaping purpose and culture and driving real change in and around the organisations we work for.

The role has never been more important and the job is more complex and demanding than ever. This represents a huge opportunity for everybody in communications but it also comes with big responsibilities. In my view the EACD is and should continue to be the go to place for communications professionals who are keen to explore these and to grow.

We are a vibrant and diverse community of curious and passionate communications professionals and the only pan European not for profit association in our field. We are in the middle of a really exciting and important transformation of the EACD to make it more inclusive and an even stronger platform for engagement, inspiration and collaboration – I’d like to see that through together with the new board and the many engaged members we have.

Médard Schoenmaeckers – Treasurer

I joined our Association shortly after it was founded in 2006 and have been actively involved in its journey ever since. The EACD has evolved in parallel with the communications profession: constant and rapid change, ever-increasing digitisation, a strong focus on people and facilitating engagement. Like no other institution, the EACD connects peers across borders and invites its members to be actively part of a movement: to join in and organise events, to listen and share opinion, to learn and support others. A board and Steering Committee member since 2018, I am committed to protecting the non-commercial and open profile of the EACD, making it a true home to our family of members.

 

Hans Koeleman – Co-lead Country Chapters

In my view there are three very important items for our profession. Communication is firstly about action, about doing the right things in a sincere way. For customers, of course, but also for society as a whole. We have to make sure that our company/organization fulfills a meaningful role in society that makes sense for all its stakeholders. Secondly it’s about constantly connecting our company to all its stakeholders, to really listen to them in order to understand their needs and views. Thirdly it’s about full transparency and honesty in communications; no more spinning but clarity about the company’s position and full access to all relevant information. Reputation is built on listening skills and consistent action.

During my role as professional for almost 30 years I have always considered it to be my duty to help the profession and other professionals forward. As guest lecturer for the Master of Corporate Comms at Erasmus University, Co-ordinator for the EACD, member of the board of the EACD and of the board of trustees at Page currently. These organizations should bring us together to share the latest trends and views and create a network of knowledge. Most of the inspiration in my work comes from others, from listening to other people, seeing other companies and organizations operate and struggle. Staying connected with the most important organizations in our profession is vital if you want to work in a leading role.

Since I am no longer active as President and CCO since the summer of 2019 I am pleased that others have taken the helmet and are going to lead the EACD into the future. I would like to support them with my experience as much as I can. Especially in the world of today, the EACD can play a vital role, in bringing professionals and leaders together. We need each other, more than ever, to take the world and our organizations into the next era.

 

Viktoria Mykhno – Co-lead Country Chapters

With COVID-19 disrupting the globe it underlines the urge to be connected in a collaborative way. Connected despite the regions, countries and continents, being able to collaborate and co-create even not seen each other physically. Communication profession is heading to digital connectivity, co-creation, collaboration and transparency. Internal communication is again of a huge importance. It will be more about digital internal communications as people work remotely (why not having online coffee as part of team-building program) and situational on-spot interactions for those who are working in factories, for instance.

The EACD is a community of professionals eager to co-create and collaborate, to support in the career path and to give new insights of the profession.

I am eager to contribute my passion for collaboration, multi-cultural experience gained in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Vietnam and a strong believe in the super-power of communication able to inspire and build new perspectives.

 

Angela Howarth – Co-lead Working Groups

Communications needs to be integrated into business strategy to future proof brands so they can survive and remain profitable during the global pandemic we face and in the aftermath with a potential global recession. Being flexible and adapting quickly to market challenges in an everchanging landscape is key. Building digital skills and competencies, being innovative and creative with storytelling and offering a good customer experience are all crucial ingredients.

Learning from peers across Europe, we have an opportunity to offer ’training/coaching’ on how to use experience of others, how to map out a recovery, how the learnings of this year have meant we’ve engaged with more members digitally, and how we have mobilised our network quickly responding to the change in circumstances for the summit. We can expect to see this continue for the next 6 months to a year, making the EACD a valuable network for inspiring, empowering and facilitating communications experts across Europe.

I look forward to supporting the EACD with my international and European experience in marketing communications from within the environmental sector. I really value our membership network and learning from colleagues with diverse experience and backgrounds.

 

Phil Riggins – Co-lead Working Groups

While more and more CCOs have the ear of their CEOs, I think our function is still trying to position itself with the C-Suite. Purpose has become a way in for many. CEOs hear and see about purpose and are confronted with a wider set of stakeholders’ expectations than before. They are looking for guidance on what all this means and how to respond. There is a big opportunity for CCOs/communicators here if they do it right.

They need to ensure that purpose is not a bolt on but reflects the essence of the business (what it does, why it exists beyond profit). Then they need to translate this into content that is honest and engaging. I think the function is also getting up to speed and becoming more nimble with digital. It doesn’t have a choice. Communicators are increasingly realising that digital is core to them and their organisations, even if they are not B2C, and developing or bringing in the required talent and tools.  I also think traditional “reputation” is dead/dying.  What matters now is the degree to which you live up to and deliver your purpose. Demonstrating that is what matters most.

The EACD to me has always been a special organisation compared to groups like Page. While Page focuses on the top level, we realise that the future of communications demands that we foster the next generation of communications leaders. That’s the EACD USP.  The current transition process and the cancellation of the EACD Communication Summit are a moment in time that we need to use to reinforce and expand this differentiation. The EACD needs to develop and execute a strategy that builds on its heritage to ensure the current and next generations of communication leaders recognise the value that the EACD brings to them and their organisations. To do that requires listening to members (current, former and prospective).

I think that I am quite unique in the EACD universe in terms of my experience and expertise and can use these to help the EACD get to the next level. I was trained as a political pollster/strategist in Washington, DC in the 1990s. What that means is my career has been focused on using data (big and small) to build and run campaigns that achieve their objectives. I have done this all over the world for some of the world’s largest organisations. My career has spanned in-house (US Department of State), senior roles at several major communication agencies (Brunswick, Weber Shandwick and APCO)(creating and building practices for these agencies), and finally creating my own consultancy (the Brand & Reputation Collective).

I would like to use my experience and expertise to help the EACD navigate this challenging time and emerge stronger, bigger and energised. I think I could help develop and execute a strategy that is insight-led and successful.  I am used to working with high level teams in a collaborative way. My work over the years and now involves being a deep listener/adviser/guide who is trusted by his clients to tell the truth about what matters, what is at stake and what is the best way forward.

 

Rui Veras – Co-lead Content

From sublime messaging to bold campaigns that transform our society’s core values, communication professionals are reality makers. More than a simple tool, communication is an expression of a societies’ artistic and cultural values. The communicator is the one that connects and translates the internal and external realities of an organisation, but he/she is also the one that strategizes the reach and influence on audiences. Therefore, I think that similar to other professions, communicators should have a deontological code that the EACD could facilitate in the form of a manifesto.

The EACD is in transformation and has an incredible opportunity to grow and establish itself as an organisation that can inspire and enable its members. From partnering with other organisations, to develop its own products, I think there is ample opportunity for the EACD to play a role in society and in the European communications context.

I believe that the EACD can reach out beyond its current constituency to enlarge its membership numbers, with a differentiated membership offer. This would fulfil a social mission to be more inclusive and reach out to ensure that democratic, inclusive and sustainability values are enshrined in the work that communicators develop throughout Europe and the world. The current paradigm is a great time to review the association business model and innovate.

The power of the members needs to be tended to and this for me requires a strategic review of where to invest the organisation’s resources. There is a need for the EACD to have champions that can enable members. In a non-event world, we will need to develop new offers to our members to feel the value of the membership, we can use service providers, or we can provide the service ourselves.

That said, the scope for partnerships and contributors is vast. For example, EACD members can benefit from a network of partnerships with European universities that facilitate knowledge transfer, and at the same time contribute actively to the business model of the association – through different events, research and member profiling. The partnership can be extended to a number of different collaborators. For example, advertising and publicity for media agencies, that could also provide the association with its services. A job portal with exclusive access to members, and so on, where there is a valid interest that can advance the organisation’s mission of supporting communication professionals to excel.

The EACD should always be a voice for the profession and provide inspiration and resources to communication professionals, as it has so far. Given my experience as the head of the Content Working Group, I think my understanding of channels and younger generations can contribute with a fresh and engaging perspective to ensure the association can develop content that is relevant to members and attracts new ones. Ideally, I would like to work with a group of energetic members that like to roll up their sleeves and get some activities done. We need a group of people that can (literally) take the association forward.

 

Dennis Larsen – Co-Lead Content

The communications function is becoming much more strategic and we are practitioners are positioned as essential strategic counsellors in the business. We are increasingly involved at the core of strategy development processes and providing essential litmus tests / external world inputs to sense check and adjust new directions and tactics.

We enable better communicative organisations and capability across the business, rather than service function delivering comms outputs and channels.

I feel the EACD’s current main USP is its passionate, high level and engaged core members. The real trick is, how we attract more members of this calibre and how we stay relevant with even more fresh content and right engagement platforms. While not being too commercial and instead focus more on community.

There is a huge opportunity to be the professional body that steps outside the ‘bubble’ of communicators talking to communicators through links with ‘strange bed fellows’ and other professional bodies like management, ethics etc. We perhaps need to be more ad hoc or formal to achieve this. There is also a huge opportunity to extract nuggets from science, do our own studies and share case studies.

And I can contribute a lot here! Thinking, analysis and support in the general new direction of the EACD.

 

Nicole Gorfer – Co-Lead Partnerships

In a disruptive, ever changing environment, our profession is one of those very few that should (and need to, in my view) constantly reinvent itself in order to stay relevant – and thus, valued and invested in. Doing that takes courage; and I feel we can embrace this much more as an opportunity for bold leadership in the future.

I see the EACD and its diverse, enriching offerings as an important platform to learn from and connect with each other on themes that matter and move the world. Knowing you can interact quickly and easily with members and the network … it’s our contribution that counts to shape the face and reputation of our profession. I very much like the fact we have this in our own hands; from professionals – for our profession.

I am a person who lives for personal growth and challenging myself – so it comes naturally for me to keep supporting our strategies, initiatives, approaches with a strong, and sometimes maybe disruptive “why”. If we are good on this one, it’s easier for you, our (potential) members, partners, collaborators to see the value of a powerful network like the EACD.

 

Luca Biondolillo – Co-Lead Partnerships

The COVID-19 global pandemic is having a significant impact on companies’ ability to operate and their reputation. Coupled with other recent crises, this is progressively enhancing the role of corporate affairs functions across many organisations. The greatest challenge to hit the world in living memory also serves as a reminder of the value that sound and fully integrated communication functions can bring to companies and their businesses – both internally and externally – during challenging times.

With so many unexpected yet significant global issues impacting businesses, there is an expectation for corporate affairs functions to rethink their work and boost their skills especially in terms of reputation management. Protecting businesses’ capacity to remain focussed both on the bottom line and long-term social and environmental commitments that are central to their value systems is more important than ever. There is an urgent need to rethink communications and develop skillsets in accordance with this new reality. Corporate affairs functions are ideally placed to bring these two elements under the same umbrella, wherever that is not already the case, to make sure that they are central to a company’s engagement with its key internal and external stakeholders – from employees to investors all the way to partners and society at large.

The EACD brings together some of the most experienced corporate affairs practitioners in Europe, the UK and sometimes even beyond. The Association sees both inhouse practitioners and agency professionals across various levels of seniority coming together, finding continuously new ways for them to share best practices, identify new ways of learning and benefit from peers’ experience. In the current environment, EACD can also help members anticipate, discuss and prepare for the changes that lie ahead. The need for an ever more fully integrated communication function that keeps abreast with society’s constant changes has never been greater.

As a member of EACD’s board, I want to continue to focus on connecting the board as well as the Association’s members with key external stakeholders that are relevant to our work, such as management consultant and executive search firms. All members stand to benefit from growing exposure to the plethora of knowhow and activities that sits within these partnership, as proven also over recent time especially with the development and roll out of the Corporate Affairs Leadership Institute (CALI) program in partnership with Korn Ferry, the global organizational consulting firm, now ready to launch later this year its second cohort.

 

Ida Gutierrez de Escofet – Co-Lead Events

Over the last years, in parallel with the increase and diversification of social media and digital channels, we have noticed that customers are looking for brands with a purpose, brands that care for their customers, employees, local communities and the environment. People value and want to buy from brands that stand up for their values and communicate in an honest and transparent way.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic we have seen the real power of communications, especially in our world of travel, hotels and hospitality. COVID-19 has affected everyone globally and consumers are receiving information from multiple communications channels, which is why it has been key to not only leverage all our channels, but make sure we are communicating the same message in a clear manner. Looking ahead, I think brands are going to re-look at Communications and see how crucial the communications team is to a business. We are also going to continue moving more and more digital with consumers looking for engaging content that speaks to who you are as a brand and set you apart from your competitors.

I think the real differentiating factor of the EACD is the focus on pan-European communication and also multinational companies, association and institutions. The EACD not only looks at integrated communications strategies but also provides a global perspective on where to take into account the local flavour and how to translate campaigns across both countries and throughout a global company to make sure it is impactful, relevant and results-driven. With my background both with NH Hotel Group and now with Radisson Hotel Group, I know the importance of bringing together a company and ensuring the campaigns we deliver are global in scale and local in execution.

As a member of the EACD board of Directors, I would like to grow the event programming for the EACD, in line with my role as the Co-Lead Events in the BOD. Particularly right now in the post-COVID-19 world, online events and webinars are a key platform to share ideas, stimulate interesting conversations, bring together strategic partners and other associations or relevant institutions, and increase awareness of the EACD and its members. Looking ahead, I would also like to work with the EACD to curate an ongoing series of engaging events and potentially awards where we recognise those members that stand out for their innovation in strategic communications. The cross-selling opportunities are limitless and with the a global platform and potential network across APAC and Americas, we can show the true power of corporate and strategic integrated communications and positioning of the EACD.

 

Philippe Borremans – Co-lead Events

Our profession is – again – at the crossroads. We still struggle to understand technology, we lost our strategic planning capability, 89% of our colleagues have struggled with mental wellbeing and our lack of diversity has been proven many times.

Recent societal shifts and a global pandemic have clearly shown what our priorities should be.

The Communication/Public Relations profession has a crucial role to play in creating a diverse and inclusive society through its interactions with employers, clients and stakeholders. Interconnected and complex challenges like the SDG’s, the economic downturn, the climate crisis and the next pandemic ask for the combination of all our skills – internal, external and crisis communication – not just a sending stuff out approach.

Our clients and senior colleagues are asking for strategic guidance, not short term tactics, so they can navigate a “post-C19” world. If they are not asking these defining questions, then we should guide them, point them in the right direction and regularly play the Devil’s advocate. At the end of the day we should be the “finger on society’s pulse” so that we can truly take on our role as trusted advisors. We have loads of work to do as a profession, but it is in times of change that we bring out the best in us.

The only truly European association with strong connections on a national and regional scale. The EACD should become the European “hub” for public relations professionals, proactively looking for a diversity based membership and fully inclusive. It should be open to collaborate with others in order to move the profession forward and include the academic/scientific community to research the most pressing topics in Communication. The EACD should play a more prominent role in professional and lifelong education.

I would like to contribute my experience in creating communities of practice, by connecting professionals with the same passion for our beautiful profession so that we can move forward and tackle the challenges ahead.

 

 

Julie Shield – Co-lead Events

I think in recent years, the profession of communications has increased its standing in organizations, becoming more respected and valued. I see this as an upwards trend as we become more measurement-focused and able to prove our worth.

With the added rise in Chief Communications Officer roles, I also think the function of communications is viewed as a vital component in the senior leadership tier of any mid-large size organization. I think enabling partnerships with other key functions in a business is key for communicators, and investment in business acumen is becoming a more important skill. Connecting to the business goals and showing how communication can support these, and thus the success of a company, is key.

I think we need to continue pushing our profession and its professionalism, as there are still pockets where I feel it is not yet fully understand or valued. Digital technology also needs to be included in the mix here, and an understanding of how marketing and communications benefit each other needs to be deepened to ensure maximum value.

In summary, we are heading more and more into a measurement-driven, commercial-focused arena where we need to show our value – for both the profession itself – and to contribute to the overall success of the organizations we work for.

I support the role of the EACD as it is now and its current aims and purpose. However, I do think we need to bring members together more in online forums and offer more online ways to connect us. Personally, I find it hard to get out to workshops even if I want to go, quite often at the last minute something comes up and I’m unable to attend. I also think connecting with educational institutions who offer relevant courses may be an added benefit to members.

I’d like to play a role that really adds value and be able to make decisions with the board to enhance offerings and connections between members. I think we need to really ask what our members need and want to hear (and how they want to hear it) to offer the best information and guidance we can.

 

Lars Seynaeve – Co-lead L&D Academy

When I started in communications over 20 years ago, I rolled into a very specialized, very niche function within my organisation. It was a time when communications was part of marketing or HR or even the CFO’s office depending whether the focus of the company was towards internal, media or investor relations.

Since then there has been quite an evolution. I will not go over that, you are all very much aware of it. But I do think the profession continues to evolve and takes on increased responsibilities within our organisations. We now generally have a seat at the executive committee table, and rightfully so. We have long passed the era of spin-doctors and are now looked upon to provide content and guidance to support the company’s goals. We are no longer only the guardians of the reputation but the drivers of the values of our organisation.

One area where we have an increasingly important role to play is ESG/Sustainability. The topics come at us from all directions whether it is clients, vendors, stakeholders, regulators or media. Just look at the number of articles published in the media in Q1 2020 alone about this topic. There are probably as many as in the whole of 2019. This illustrates that our function needs to evolve. We need to be more than communicators, we need to get extensive and often specialized knowhow in our teams and become (if not yet the case) the Go-To people for our business partners.

A second area which is impacting our function is technology. While we’re all sharing, liking and tweeting, there are some new developments out there, which will once again revolutionise our function. Language barriers are disappearing as technology lets us communicate almost real time in another language. Augmented reality will force us to think about communicating in a virtual world.

A third topic, which I find, has become of incredible value to the communications function is ‘Geopolitics’. We need to be on top of the world news and be able to not only share it but to provide an assessment of the potential impact it may have on our company and even come with recommendations on how to respond.

So, if you ask me what I think the EACD should look at going forward, it is the following:

  1. Bringing new topical knowledge like ESG into the communications function
  2. Preparing members for the new communication ‘tools’ that are rapidly coming our way
  3. Providing geopolitical insights

The EACD is competing with many other organisations, not only communication networks, who provide a lot of opportunity for knowledge sharing. I can probably attend a session on crisis/Corona every day with a different organisation. So why would I attend the EACD session?

I think quality and insights are the key words here but also being valued as member. By interacting with and engaging our members we will deliver a high-quality member experience that will make all the difference if a membership decision between another organisation and the EACD must be made.

 

Louis de Schorlemer –Co-lead L&D Academy

Communications need to step up and become more deeply engaged in the business. Communicators must ensure that we have a profound knowledge of the business we operate in and the core drivers of success. We can’t satisfy ourselves by re-packaging what functional leaders tell us. We need to ask more questions, be on the shop floor of our operations, spend time in our shared service centres and really acquire a profound understanding of the ecosystem. When we want to have a seat on the table, we need to demonstrate that we know better, that we know more. At the same time, communications will remain a “soft” skill. Now rather than trying to change the craftmanship, we can celebrate it as such. Let’s strengthen the relevance of soft skills in a society which is ready for it. Communications are the Art of dealing with people. And combining behavioural economics with new digital capabilities will provide us with massive opportunities to demonstrate the value of communications in our enterprises.

To tackle the challenges of a generalist professional association, the EACD needs to focus on the common concerns of the profession. This implies developing reliability and consistency of communications across time. Standards, expertise, and resources are those tools that will help any communications professional reproduce best practices and adapt them by innovating to the individual requirements. EACD is uniquely placed to share knowledge and develop individuals in the profession across the continent. Another key attribute of the EACD is its unique European network, where its members can connect across borders and have their careers and businesses thrive. The European touch is not a political statement, it is an expression of a spirit of cooperation, of a platform that no national level can provide. And lastly, the EACD has a role to play in leading the way for the profession and the professionals to adapt to the evolving environment.

I am a strong supporter of a robust governance, which helps upholding an organization and I see a great opportunity in the deployment of an L&D Academy. The EACD has access to almost unmeasurable knowledge and experience, while demand for learning keeps growing. The business model still needs to be developed, but there are similar successful programs that we can learn from. With contacts in the academic world, I am currently working on a research paper on communications in mergers & acquisitions. Building a learning community featuring outstanding contributors and engaged users could be a stunning achievement.