The insights and discussion at the ECS are not contained to the keynote presentations and panel discussions on the main stage. The simultaneous breakout sessions allow participants to engage directly with the expertise of the diverse range of speakers in an intimate workshop format.  

Here is an overview of just some of the sessions offered over the two days of the summit   

Communicating finance post crisis

Those communicating on behalf of entities in the financial sector were perhaps already familiar with the difficulties outlined by David Thomas, Senior UK and EU Media Adviser with the Deutsche Börse. The financial troubles that have plagued the world’s markets over the last decade have led to financial institutions, venues and markets taking hits in reputation after being lumped together as dishonest entities. With many of these entities are tightening regulation and making changes to their processes they want to make this known to the general public in the hope of rebuilding truest.

However, as Thomas suggests, strong policy changes designed for the long term are not that attractive to the narratives disseminated through the media. The financial media demand news where the change is clear to see suited to companies pursuing activist strategies in the short term. As Thomas said, “The press prefer disruptive rather than constructive news”.

To get the desired coverage Thomas provided the some starting points for media strategy:

  1. Hit core targets: know the publications who are likely to be interested in your company or a particular piece of news. Reach out to them.
  2. Defend the perimeter: some publications will never be your friend. Be aware of the potential for bad press.
  3. Positive shock: wait for the true success story coming from a change or a development. Release the information at a time it is most newsworthy.
  4. Honesty: every piece of information to be covered in the media should be grounded in reality.

David Thomas of Deutsche Börse communicating on behalf of financial entitites.

Finding the balance

As Burson-Marsteller’s resident futurist and senior director at FUTURE Perspective Trend Analysis Group across EMEA, Elaine Cameron is well-credentialed to provide insight into what’s around the corner. In this particular session she outlined the trends and barriers to gender balance through the scope of business.

As Cameron explained, “Companies that get gender balance right will have a competitive advantage in the future”. Not only is it right to promote women in business ­– particularly in leadership positions – but it can only benefit your operations.

It was obvious that Cameron’s words struck a chord with those in attendance. She opened up the floor and allowed those in the room to share their own professional and personal experiences. Audience members reflected on opportunities arising for women in entrepreneurship and job sharing, the benefits of mentoring programmes and how younger generations view ideas of equality.

Unfortunately, both in Cameron’s presentation and the words of audience, it was evident that barriers still exist. When it comes to building advantage for women in the workplace there is still work to do for all of us.

Ideas from the floor: participants dicuss how to build advantage for women in business.

If anyone would like more information on Burson-Marsteller’s Advantage Women offering, please visit the Burson-Marsteller website or contact: Katarina Wallin Bureau, COO EMEA Email: Tel: +32 27436608

Putting the human in data

There are two words that have often been heard one after the other during the Summit: big and data. In her session Petra Mašínová, CEO of NEWTON Media Group sought to show how data can be effectively utilised in designing excellent communication strategies.

Mašínová told the audience that it easy to be scared by the sheer quantity of data collected. She admitted that she didn’t know everything data can give to communications, but assured us that all we need to know is what communication needs from the data.

Citing a quote from legendary jazz musician Miles Davis ­– “You have to know 400 notes that you can play, then pick the right four” – Mašínová explained that when it comes to data we need to understand what is possible, but focus on what is needed.

NEWTON’s Philip Lynch was then invited to guide the audience through their award-winning work with cooperation with the CNB – the central bank for Czech Republic.

Of big data Lynch stated, “we have scale but no sophistication. Big data is a description of scale, while meeting business needs is sophistication.”

The importance of sophisticated media monitoring and measurement could be seen in CNB’s successful turnaround in favourable press coverage.

Based on NEWTON’s data insights CNB tailored their communications to foster dramatically improved media relations with transparency at its heart.

As Lynch said when it comes to communicating to the press, “if you don’t have reach, you will fail”.

Petra Mašínová on humanising data for communications.

Social acceptance

The Black Sun team was well prepared to get their audience members involved in their session.

In partnership with Communication Director the stakeholder communications agency recently undertook research into social acceptance, or as they put it during the presentation: the point at which an organisation is recognised as a meaningful contributor to society.

The study took in answers from over 200 respondents with the questions designed to provide insight into how communication professionals can assist their organisations in navigating social acceptance.

Using live smartphone polling, Black Sun was able to give us a little taster of their research during the session.

Those in the room were asked:  “Do you consider social acceptance as a driver of business performance?” 58% agreed strongly. However when asked if their respective CEOs shared this view, “somewhat agree” was the most popular answer with 37% of those in attendance selecting that option.

This perceptions gap was also evident in the Black Sun’s research, although to a lesser extent (the same two questions drew respsectively an 86% and 76% positive response).

If you are interested in knowing more about the study and its findings the full report can be downloaded at the Black Sun website.

Live polling in the Black Sun session on navigating social acceptance.