Exploring the Estuary

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 17.57.36I was back in Brussels for EuroComm last week. This IABC conference has always been a time for communicators to stop and ponder over the direction in which our profession is going. I have to admit that in the past it was sometimes a depressing exercise.

Celine Schillinger, director of stakeholder marketing at Sanofi Pasteur, summed it up brilliantly when she said that communication is considered the “cherry on the cake”, meaning a hollow function merely capable of producing “colorful brochures”.

I know this is a perception we are still fighting against but given the feel I got from EuroComm… we might not be fighting for much longer. Reality out there is changing fast and organisations need a sophisticated communication profession to help them get their heads around what’s happening to our audiences.

I love the metaphor Robert Madelin, DG CONNECT’s director general, used of the future being like an estuary… an area where the boundaries between land and water are in constant mutation.  In such an environment, we cannot be too prescriptive… audiences and messages are evolving all the time. It is no longer about us controlling the message. We have to learn to deal with ambiguity. Our audiences are co-creating the change.

Rav Dhaliwal, Customer Success Manager at Yammer, gave the example of the Digital Competence Day organized by the European Commission last month to familiarize its staff with social media. The event attended by several hundreds was organized and planned by using an internal social network on Yammer. An inspiring case of self-organisation by a community!

I participated in #ecdigiday  at the invitation of the Commission. Having spent many years in Brussels working with the EU institutions, it was excited to be part of the EC’s first official step into the digital world.

Also because, I have to admit, part of my heart is still in Brussels. It’s in the capital of Europe that I joined IABC back in 1997.

This year I was asked by @pweiss to come and tell the story of my life…

At first that sounded scary…. As a writer, I am used to telling the story of other people not my own. So that was a new experience. But I had great fun going back in time and discovering that the most important moments in my career have happened thanks to… revolutions.

I began working in Eastern Europe right after the Velvet Revolution, I fell in love with social media during the Arab Spring and I am now involved in what I believe will revolutionalise the way we work beyond recognition… enterprise social networking. That’s where our profession is heading.  Stay tuned!

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