November 25 2016
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Launching brand new C²  association as community platform

 

Blog by Anja D’Hondt (BPRCA Board Member, Public Relations, Flower & Feet), 22 November 2016

 

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The second PR Summit of 3C and BPRCA, taking place on November 22, 2016 at ING, Brussels, evolved around the intersection of corporate and marketing communication. Presidents Goedseels and Poté started with breaking news: both associations are merging into a totally new organisation C²  (pronounce: C square), to become thé Belgian communication community platform. This move clearly demonstrates the need for a new dynamic and a clearer positioning of the communication profession(al) in today’s fast evolving communication landscape.

 

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From earned media back to stakeholder communication

The two keynote speakers, well-known PR industry legend Paul Holmes and marketing guru Will McInnis of BrandWatch, presented their opponing views on both disciplines. Holmes wants to reclaim PR as overarching all communication disciplines in an organisation to manage stakeholder relations. “The PR profession has too long been associated with media outreach, and more specifically earned media. A thorough understanding of data to help drive behaviour is important in the entire process.” Holmes states. McInnes claims that marketers are better planners and have their actions underpinned with measurable evidence. “They regard PR as part of their marketing toolkit.” During the animated debate marketing is defined as short-term transational and PR as longer term relationship management. Holmes argues it’s not about getting the widest reach but gaining most and positive brand advocates, hereby increasing the NPS (Net Promoter Score). Both parties conclude with a reconciling plead for partnership and empathy between marketing and corporate communication, each stepping outside of their bubble.

 

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Customer-centric and transparent

The following debates features communication from company perspective with PR, public affairs and communication directors from Proximus, Duvel Moortgat, Danone, D’Ieteren, Testaankoop, ING, AXA and Infrabel. Largely they all agree that companies should be transparent in their communication and customer-centric.
Most companies work in ‘squads’ or teams for specific projects, hereby selecting the best experts and skills, regardless of department or title. Social media opens many gates and makes us focus on individuals rather than market segments. It allows employees to participate actively in communication processes, on a personal and corporate level. Customers and stakeholders speak up and unveil false information or untrue messages. It’s therefore imperative companies communicate in a transparent way throughout the entire organisation, reflecting their true values and building a trustful reputation. Griet Byl, Chief Editor at Media Marketing, emphasizes the importance of result measurement within a broader context and against clear benchmarks, to give more weight to PR efforts on C-level.

 

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Power to the People

To be successful companies build relations and contribute to society, hereby clearly defining their brand and values. A panel of company CEO’s explains how they drive this in their organisations. Dirk van de Walle, Country Director of Spadel, explains his company does not sell water but helps protect the earth and hydrate their customers. Marc Michils, CEO of Kom op Tegen Kanker, with many years in advertising on his counter, spoke personally to all his employees resulting in a common goal to ban cancer from society. He advocates a high level of participation from all stakeholders, even up to citizens participating in senate and politics. UBA CEO Chris Van Roey sees the importance of defining a clear brand, integrating all communication disciplines rather than diverging. Ipsos Country Managing Director Gerd Callewaert makes his employees again proud of their company by demonstrating how the surveys they conduct impact  political and social decisions. CEO Kevin Derycke of Burger Brands Belgium explains how they strive for customers to enjoy the Quick and Burger King ‘experience’ rather than the quick bite.

 

United we stand…

PR and communication professionals have to build on their strenghts – strategy, (quality) relationship building, messaging – which are now more relvant and valuable than ever before. At the same time we have to make sure we acquire new skills and learn technologies to hook into our customers and market needs. Social media are not ‘owned’ by anyone, it’s a broad platform with specific features that can add tremendous value and offer great opportunities. The professionals bringing the best ideas and skills to the table, will get the job – it’s as simple as that! Our entire community should unite to redefine and re-align the communication profession, putting us back on the map, stronger than ever before. That will be the challenging and exciting task for the new C²  association – so stay tuned!

 

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Anja D’Hondt

BPRCA Board Member

Public Relations, Flower & Feet

22 November 2016