Read our recap of day two of the European Communication Summit here.


Hundreds of professional communicators arrived at the Square Meeting Centre for 11th European Communication Summit to discuss how communications can promote collaboration and empower people to engage and share their knowledge.

Karin Helmstaed, television presenter for Deutsche Welle and the Summit’s Gold Hall stage moderator, welcomed the crowd. She soon had them breaking out in nervous murmurs, as they were asked to hand away their mobile phones to the person on their right. Well, trust is a key element of collaboration after all. With phones safely back in hand, the audience was able to ponder technology’s role in collaboration and its influence on our relationships with those around us and far away. EACD president Herbert Heitmann officially opened proceedings and used the occasion to present an EACD “Manifesto against fake news”. Read the full declaration here.


Yes, and…

Cyriel Kortleven upped the tempo with the opening keynote presentation of the Summit, delivered partly from atop a ladder. He provided lessons in how to aim for simplicity in project management, and how a proactive mindset fosters collaboration and ultimately, action. Cyriel tackles the same subjects in his piece for the latest issue of Communication Director. Why not have a read?

Monitoring the profession

Over 3000 communicators from 50 countries answered questions about their profession for the 2017 European Communication Monitor. Professor Ansgar Zerfass of the University of Leipzig presented the new findings in the Gold Hall. Key insights include 94% of respondents believing in a rising importance for strategic communication, but also that competencies and processes are still nascent. In relation to social bots, 73% of communicators agree there are ethical challenges involved, while only 15% of organisations will be using social bots by 2018. There's much more to discover on the European Communication Monitor website. For further insights taken from the last 10 years of the Monitor, check out the new book: Communication Excellence – How to develop, manage and lead exceptional communication. 


Out and about

The breakout sessions gave Summit attendees the chance to personalise their programmes and head to the sessions of most interest to them. Of course, no one person can see them all. Here are just a few highlights:


Åsa Degermark, head of communications in the corporate function strategy and technology for Ericsson, spoke about the company’s digital event-based breakthrough in internal communications. Read more about this in Åsa’s recent piece for Communication Director.

Matija Varga, head of HR communication and employer branding for ING Belgium, focused on how collaboration is a key pillar for strengthening ING’s employer branding and the technologies driving this and the bank’s digital services.


The first ECS field trip took Summit participants to the Korean Cultural Center for Brussels and the EU. Chung Haetal, vice director, presented the collaboration strategy the Center uses to build partnerships with cultural bodies in Belgium to showcase Korean culture to European citizens.


Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit, head of sci-tech innovation and entrepreneurship at Aarhus University, showed how gamification can help to further collaboration. A short interview with Rajiv on this subject was recently conducted by Communication Director.


Edna Ayme-Yahil, head of communications EIT Digital and EACD board member, moderated a discussion between the nominees for the ECA Young Communicator of the Year: Kelsey Hunter of Climate-KIC, Louise Liv Mikkelsen of Danish Red Cross and Anisa Missaghi of pladis. Keep an eye out for an upcoming EACD blog post based on their perspectives on collaboration in communication, the challenges they face and the breakthroughs they anticipate.


Bertrand Blaise, senior vice president corporate communications of Groupe PSA, drew on his professional experience to discuss how to develop a strategy that provides efficient communication in a multicultural, globalised, and real-time business arena.


Toby Green, chief operating officer, public affairs and communications at OECD, and colleague Shayne MacLachlan, communications campaigns manager, took to the Gold Hall stage to share OECD’s new online initiative to build a genuine two-way dialogue on creating better policies. 

Afternoon insights

Following a few servings of lunch, many attendees found themselves back in the Gold Hall where Karin Helmstaed lead a panel discussion on collaboration in times of disruption. Expect a blog post soon on our website with insights from Dr. Virginie Coulloudon, fomer group director for external relations at Transparency International; Taavi Kotka, former chief information officer of the Republic of Estonia; Rajiv Vaid Basaiawmoit, head of sci-tech innovation and entrepreneurship at Aarhus University; and Heather Knox vice president, external communications at Groupe Renault.

Tony Snyder, vice president communications at Philip Morris International (PMI), held a breakout session on change communications. And what a change it is: Tony spoke about his team’s role in aligning the PMI brand with their new portfolio of smoke-free products.

Sander Haas, internal communication manager at Asito, explained how pride among employees translates into an incredible external source of positive public relations.


Alexandrine Gauvin, communications manager council of European National Top Level Domain Registries, shared her experience as one-person communication team, and how she tapped into the potential of her colleagues to assist in the communications for the launch of a new website and corporate identity.


Professor Dr. Ana Adi, professor of public relations and corporate communications at Quadriga University of Applied Sciences Berlin, highlighted elements of hero-centered storytelling, providing tips on how to showcase authenticity in brand stories.


Mark Cloosterman, CEO and managing partner of branding experts VIM Group, put together a panel to discuss their new book: Future Proof Your Brand. Panellists included Dr. Herbert Heitmann, president of European Association of Communication Directors; Laurens Hoekstra, chief strategy officer VIM Group; Dr. Cees B.M. van Riel, professor of corporate communications at Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University; and Lars Bolle, vice president group brand management DER Touristik (Rewe Group). Find out more about the launch of Future Proof Your Brand here.

The power of one to help many


The final keynote came from Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson and head of communications for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A clearly-moved audience listened to Melissa describe how she drew on the power of an individual story to attract greater empathy for people displaced from their homes and forced to endure terrible ordeals in the search for safety. Melissa recently spoke to Communication Director about telling the story of Doaa al Zamel.