The Future of Communications Outlined at European Communications Summit 2019

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The Future of Communications Outlined at European Communications Summit 2019

The key event in the communications professionals’ May calendars in Europe was the European Communications Summit 2019. For the 13th year, on the 23rd and 24th May,  the elite of the communications executives and cross-industry leaders gathered in Berlin to showcase the inspirational and best industry practices, look into the future and shape the next big thing in  communications.

Thanks to the European Association of Communications Directors and Quadriga, over 400 attendees enjoyed an exciting and compelling agenda of four tracks, a number of workshops and 5 innovation expeditions. They were inspired by the rich experience exchange at the event and by over 50 influential speakers from different backgrounds and cross-industry leading companies, including Microsoft, Siemens, SAP, Airbnb, European Commission, World Economic Forum, ING Group, HSBC, OSRAM, Novartis and LIDL.

The crossing point between the Engage, Evolve, Explore and Effect tracks shaped a future of communications built around a number of key pillars, which are already a focus in Dr Babanin’s work – transparent communication and fake news protection, effective change management with the power of communications, outstanding employer branding, smart use of data and digital transformations, as well as the necessity of an authentic and engaging content creation and storytelling, powered by AI, VR and AR.

The attendees experienced the latest AI and immersive technologies exhibited at the event’s Playground, attend some of the talks on the floating stage located on a boat in the river, taste the finest range of Berlin’s culinary masterpieces and make their first steps in the widely spread mindfulness practices and meditate to recharge their energy levels.

One of the key takeaways from the event was the discussion on the shift in the communications director role – a complex role evolving into a mixture of HR, marketing communications, change management and public affairs, evolving into a Chief Purpose Officer. ECS brought on stage a number of Corporate Affairs Directors who turned out as the perfect match for the CEO roles in their companies. Corresponding to Dr Babanin’s opinion, this suggests that the role of the Communications Director will be even more leading and central in any business operations, which takes out the “in service” attitude out of the equation.

 

 

 

 

Another popular topic in Dr Babanin’s work - Employer Branding, was also at the center of attention among the communications directors at ECS 2019. Media empowered employees, speed of information sharing and discovery, corporate responsibility and a rich range of external factors are affecting the employer branding process. Organizations should ensure they have a clear, strong and consistent voice on their strategy, purpose and values and use the communications channels and instruments in a smart way.

Looking into the focus of the tracks, Engage discussed the engagement and understanding of the key stakeholders. Integration of corporate responsibility in corporate strategy development, as well as active listening and responding to stakeholder concerns are essential for the success of any business.  Communications directors should be taking into consideration the seven global trends affecting the corporate reputation – society changes, consumer attitudes, politics, uncertain international relationships, data use and privacy, the Generation z factor and the impact of AI and workplace automation. Mentioning Gen Z, the speakers also addressed the need of authentic, relatable and sustainable content creation to engage with this audience.

The Evolve track showcased innovative and interesting insight on developing communications strategies, instruments and channels. Companies should be working towards ensuring their employees are as digitally fluent as their customers are. Strong employer brand strategy can be achieved through authentic employee-led stories, impacting the public image. The power of genuine content and storytelling, selecting the right digital and multimedia innovations are essential for the success of online and offline campaigns and reaching the target audiences. Measuring reputation means understanding what impact it’s making on the stakeholders.

Explore inspired the audience with futuristic software, tools and technology trends for the creation of new forms of communication. AI and Natural Language Processing, as well as Blockchain with its transparency and security are reshaping the industry. The growing need of experiential marketing, compelling visuals, engaging brands and customers in experiences make VR and AR the new communication channel, IoT and cognitive computing are all technological trends that communications directors need in the center of their customer-focused strategies. Gamification has an important role in the B2C communications, but also can be a powerful tool in change management.

Effect brought a realistic glimpse into the Communications business and technologies in 2025. In such a dynamic and digital-savvy industry, professionals will also benefit from a variety of mindfulness practices. The sessions in the track also looked into the benefits, challenges and constraints in the newsroom approach to corporate communications management. With the fast speed of companies’ globalization, the balance between the local and central needs in international communications departments is very important. The track also discussed the necessity of a global integrated collaborative brand experience and communications system.

Rolling up their sleeves, the attendees had the opportunity to take part in a number of workshops on organizational risk management through data, crisis leadership, content for the next generation and the macro trends – micro-influence relationship – growing the organizational advocacy and influence strategy.

Here are some of the visitor impressions of the event: