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Magazine for Corporate Communications and Public Relations


Power & persuasion The art of political communication

Use and abuse of political terms

Political careers live and die by the choice of communications

The psychology of dialogue and compromise Become a better negotiator for you and your team

Digital democracy and twiplomacy How innovative new tools are revolutionising politics

Take your communication career to the next level

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Start March 2013

EMScom Executive Master of Science in Communications Management Lugano \ Singapore \ Los Angeles



n these tough economic times, it is easy to forget that it is not just corporate communicators who have it hard, bearing the brunt of budget cuts in one direction, increasingly demanding stakeholders in another, and rule-changing technological developments in yet another direction. Spare a thought for political communicators. Not only must they face many of the same problems, they also have a few of their own to contend with as well. This issue of Communication Director takes a look at some of the challenges and opportunities in political communications today. We learn about the main diff iculties facing government communicators, and one or two ways they could meet these challenges. In politics, the wrong word or unadvised comment can cost a career: we also hear about how crafting the right message is a f ine balancing act for those who speak on behalf of political actors and institutions. Reputation management, long considered the exclusive domain of corporate communicators, is shown to be just as necessary and challenging for politicians, governments – even entire nations. And we get an insider’s look into the multi-faceted communications strategy adopted in the run up to and during last year’s Cyprus presidency of the European Union. Lobbying and public affairs is another important aspect of the kind of communications discussed in this issue, and so we invited GE to share with us their approach to “inf luencing the inf luencers”. And let us not imagine that excitement and controversy over the latest new digital tool is the preserve of corporate communicators: in these pages, you can read about an exciting new technique to measuring the effectiveness of communication techniques in campaigns both electoral and corporate; an ambitious new tool for participatory democracy; and how Twitter has matured into a surprisingly effective tool for diplomacy. I do hope that you f ind something of interest in the f irst issue of Communication Director in 2013.

Marc-Oliver Voigt Publisher

Photo: Moritz Vennemann





“The cloud is leading to the growth of a whole new dimension around us.”


“Public relations needs to morph McLuhan’s mind into its message.”

AGENDA SETTER Communication ideas in the eyes of experts

A virtual Swiss Guard

CEOs in the eyes of the media

CEO Stockwatch

Thorsten Hofmann


The corporate and academic stand on communication


What public relations owes to communication theory pioneer Marshall McLuhan

Dominique Scheffel-Dunand and Ian Chalmers


Political PR in Russia How the Russian elections of the mid nineties transformed public relations

Evgeny N. Pashentsev

Daniela Puttenat


Peering through the cloud Look around you: there is a parallel world of media, information and knowledge

How to improve personnel management and your career

Why assertiveness matters in business In tough times, organisations are looking for wellbalanced assertive leaders. How do you measure up?

Laura Bacci


McLuhan as PR Master

Press conferences are as crucial as ever: make sure that yours is a memorable one



Organising a great press conference

Sean MacNiven


Looking back at landmark communications

by CARMA International


An overview of the skills necessary to becoming a successful negotiator

High-profile anonymity and cyber security


Arriving at agreements


Key communicators under the spotlight


Sixtine Bouygues Director for Strategy and Corporate Communication, European Commission

Photo: Scotiabank ContactPhotography Festival/University of Toronto




“I am proud to be part of a project which has already proven its value for 60 years.”


“Despite the maxim, the messenger is often the one to be shot.”

STORY TELLER Looking at the important questions of communication


Talking politics Different narratives can clarify or obscure developments in the European Union

Dafydd Phillips


Neil Corlett


80 84

Photo: EU/ Etienne Ansotte

The latest initiative for instant and transnational communication

ASSOCIATION European Association of Communication Directors


The latest developments in the EACD


Andreas Sandre


Delivering digital democracy

Book Reviews

Reputation management is as vital for political actors as it is for corporate players

Twitter is growing in popularity as a tool for innovative diplomatic dialogue

For GE, innovation is a mainstay in public affairs in Brussels and beyond


State of the nation

Political engagement in 140 characters

Influencing the influencers

Bruno Kaufmann

Chiara Valentini


Measuring the effectiveness of political and corporate campaigns

Elma Peters and Hugh Gillanders

Language and politics The wrong choice of words can shipwreck a political career

Measuring influence, gauging reactions Fiona Blades and Paul Baines

Helping governments find a voice The 10 main challenges facing government communications today

María José Canel



The personal side of Communication Directors

Promoting a presidency The multi-faceted communication strategy of last year’s Cyprus presidency of the European Union

Eleonora Gavrielides



Rui Martins Executive Board Member & Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Director, Dianova



STRATEGIC THINKER The corporate and academic stand on communication

ORGANISING A GREAT PRESS CONFERENCE Even in the age of web 2.0, a press conference remains an important and useful public relations event. There are, however, a few dos and don’ts. By Daniela Puttenat


espite online media, blogs and Twitter, the classic press conference is still an important public relations tool that allows journalists to find out about important news, ask pointed questions to company representatives and obtain important background information. Virtually no public relations professional will be able to avoid organising a press conference in their working lives. Here, there are several interrelated requirements that a public relations professional must master: perfect event management, the correct way to deal with target group media, talent in presenting and talking confidently, a high level of resilience and a confident appearance. Even seemingly small details determine the success or failure of the press conference.




1. THE OCCASION The most important aspect of a press conference is the event itself. Journalists sacrifice several hours of their working time to travel to and participate in a press conference; the occasion must therefore be so fruitful that the press representatives do not walk away feeling annoyed, thinking “I could have gotten this information on the internet or from a press kit!” Particularly in times when publishers are cutting costs, editorial offices are thinly staffed and no longer like to send out representatives. In our multimedia world, an increasing number of press conferences


Photo: Ginosphotos |

are also taking place virtually. Participants dial into a telephone conference or use a link to access a microsite that has been set up especially for the occasion and which provides information such as pictures (in high resolution, of course), texts and presentations. Speed is key in the increasingly competitive opinion market, so journalists bring their laptops with them to write and broadcast their reports online in real time. Today, journalists expect a workplace that is equipped with the latest technologies, including internet access. Occasions for a press conference include:

• Presentation of a company’s annual results by the chair of the management board or managing director • Profound changes in corporate culture that cannot be explained through a press release alone (merger, acquisitions, job cuts, restructuring process, new management team) • Superlatives such as the presentation of the most expensive watch or the smallest mobile phone (particularly in the consumer goods industry) • Presentation of a new film or programme concept (particularly in the entertainment industry) • Large-scale product presentations, particularly at trade fairs (the new sports car, the exclusive jewellery line). Here, the press conference borders on becoming an elaborately staged show • The launch event for a long series of events important to the media (tour, world exhibition, World Cup, Tour de France) If you are unsure whether or not a press conference is truly appropriate, you are better off deciding against it. Even if your client or boss believes that the subject is exciting

and essential, take a critical look through the eyes of a journalist: if you were a journalist, would you want to attend a press conference on this subject? Why is a simple press release not enough here? Do you have enough time before the scheduled date? You should be able to begin planning at least eight weeks in advance or, even better, three to four months beforehand. A major press conference also involves significant costs. At the end of the day, you have to take responsibility for these questions.

2. THE DATE AND TIME Before you set a date, it is advisable to check for potential rival events taking place on the same day. These could be fixed dates or one-off events: your competitors’ events, the annual results announcement of a stock exchange giant, a major sporting event in your city, pending important political decisions, trade fairs and so on. Bare in mind that journalists have families too and that they may be away during holiday periods. Having said that, an announcement in the summer months, the so-called ‘silly season’, may receive more attention and therefore have a greater chance of being published than usual in the absence of other, more important announcements.

You are most likely to get an acceptable number of guests between Tuesday and Thursday. Generally speaking, Monday is not a good day for a press conference as this is when editorial offices usually do their planning for the week. Friday is also not desirable because of the weekend, unless you are specifically targeting publication in the weekend issues. You are most likely to get together an acceptable number of guests for your press conference between Tuesday and Thursday. However, these days are popular for precisely this reason and rival events may be taking place. These unwelcome clashes must be assessed as carefully as possible in advance. Some dates, such as the annual general meeting of a listed company, are set long in advance and can also not be postponed. Late morning is a good time to start – editorial conferences usually take place before this so you should not kick off too early. 10 am to midday are popular times.

3. THE VENUE The choice of location makes or breaks

your event. You should therefore choose a location that befits the occasion, subject and size of your press conference. If your company has to report bad news, you hardly 01/2013




How to improve personnel management and your career

WHY ASSERTIVENESS MATTERS IN BUSINESS In tough times, organisations are looking for well-balanced assertive leaders. How do you measure up? By Laura Bacci


ssertiveness by itself will not get you a promotion, nor the respect of your peers and bosses. But failing to stand your ground effectively, and – conversely – being too controlling and aggressive, can halt your advancement up the corporate ladder. So why are organisations seeking out assertive leaders and where do you fit on the assertiveness barometer? Assertiveness is a way of describing how people defend their interests. Assertive leaders can create a compelling vision, communicate strategy and clearly define objectives and service quality standards. They inspire their people, gather support, and create alignment within a team so that everyone moves in the same direction. They avoid the confusion and disorientation caused when team members are trying to second guess what they’re supposed to be doing and why. Assertive leaders exude confidence. They are prepared to stand their ground when they walk down the corridor to deal with the human resources or finance departments. They create a safe space for team members to voice


Being assertive is a fantastic trait whether you are managing relationships upwards, downwards or horizontally within an organisation. concerns and discontent, avoiding the trap of toxic communications cycles. They can even encourage the most soft-spoken people to share their thoughts and ideas with the wider team; ideas that might turn out to be star dust further down the line. 01/2013


Until now, organisations have viewed assertiveness as a trait that relates exclusively to the personality of the individual. Either you are assertive or you are not. But it is now time for companies to start looking at assertiveness as an institutional issue. That is because the structure and function of every organisation has a direct impact on whether the next generation of leaders are capable of rallying their people in the right direction. Organisations also have a responsibility to ensure that their current crop of leaders has the right environment in which to be assertive. They cannot expect team leaders to act assertively if those leaders don’t have a clear mandate from management, or if their jobs are constantly being put on the line. The organisation as a whole has to create the right environment for assertiveness to flourish.

WHY SHOULD YOU BE AN ASSERTIVE TEAM LEADER? Being assertive is a fantastic trait whether you are managing relationships upwards, downwards or horizontally within an organisation. It comes in very handy when you are negotiating resources for your team,


trying to get budgets approved, securing full-time employee positions or backing your key performance indicators in front of the big boss during the annual review process. If you are servicing other departments you need to be able to say what needs to be said in a constructive manner. In doing so, you will establish your team’s reason for existing and defend their expertise. In the process you are also likely to challenge misconceptions, pushback unrealistic deadlines, create a productive dialogue and develop trusting relationships with your peers. With the external eco-system a little assertiveness is also of great value. Whether you are doing business with contractors, managing complex

Being assertive is a little like walking a tightrope which is suspended 10 metres above the ground. What is likely to make you fall and what will keep you balanced? There is no straightforward answer to this question. This is because balance comes from aligning your own personal values, strengths and sense of purpose with the needs of the outside world. Assertiveness involves taking charge from the inside out. Know who you are and what you have to offer and listen carefully to what is going on around you. That will help you to apply the right degree of assertiveness to the right group at the right time.

STAYING IN BALANCE So how can you keep your assertiveness in balance, and what cues should you look for to recognise when you are out of balance? The answers depend on a number of factors which are, quite often, out of your control. Factors such as the direction of the organisation, the nature of your team and the individuals who are part of it.

campaigns with multiple stakeholders, or negotiating deals on behalf of your company, assertiveness will bring dividends.

WHERE IS YOUR COMPANY HEADING? You need to pick your leadership style (and with that, the right amount of assertiveness) depending on your organisation. What is the overall strategic business, and what are its financial and organisational objectives? The leadership style you choose is not necessarily your own personal working style. For example, you cannot suddenly decide to be an authoritative leader so you can take your team through a restructuring phase – but then fail to make yourself heard by displaying low assertiveness skills. You will not get the results you were expecting, and you will lose credibility within the company.

THE ASSERTIVENESS TIGHTROPE Research published by the

Table 1: Characteristics of different types of assertive behaviour (adapted from Ames and Flynn, 2007)

Individuals who come across as too low or too high in assertiveness tend to be rated as ineffective leaders.

American Psychological Association shows that individuals who come across as too low or too high in assertiveness tend to be rated as ineffective leaders by their colleagues (see Table 1). Highly assertive individuals do get the tasks done and achieve short-term goals. However, they often dampen relationships and are likely to undermine team spirit over the longer term. While low levels of assertiveness might make you popular, it often goes hand-in-hand with underperformance.

Type of assertiveness

Typical characteristics

High or over assertive

Dominance, aggressiveness, lack of deference, hostility, pursues goals in a hostile and offensive manner.

Low or under assertive

Self-sacrifice, cooperativeness and consideration, passivity and submissiveness, failure to take charge in situations that require initiative or conviction.





POLITICAL PR IN RUSSIA Not only were the elections of the 1990s pivotal events in Russia’s history, they were landmarks in the development of Russian public relations. By Evgeny N. Pashentsev



he Russian parliamentary elections of 1995 were a major event in the development of Russian political public relations, and the presidential elections of 1996 further established public relations as a widely used tool in the struggle for power. Previously, political consultants had only been listened to: agreed with at times, or turned to for help on occasion. Politicians had tended to 01/2013


look upon public relations firms as something rather dubious – a tool for money laundering, perhaps? Having received support from party sponsors and impressive results in election campaigns, political consultancy turned into a profitable sphere of business. Experts estimate that political public relations made


up between 60 to 70 per cent of the overall amount of orders placed with Russian public relations agencies. In this respect, the Russian market differed from its western counterpart, where financial, corporate and crisis public relations tended to predominate. Futhermore, the Russian market exhibited an evident trend towards monopolisation, with only a few firms operating nationally, such as Nikkolo M, Imageland, PR Center and Image-Contact.

CONTRACTS It would be a mis-

take to see corporate and political public relations in Russia in the 1990s as two totally separate spheres; in fact, there was extensive interpenetration. Professionals who had previously worked exclusively in politics began consulting with businessmen, while those who made a reputation in corporate public relations could switch to politics. This interpenetration pointed to the market’s instability. There was a belief, shared even by most longstanding operators, that one’s political profile and connections with certain powerful authorities were more important than having skilled professionals in one’s team.

Photo: Private

Professionals who had until then exclusively worked in politics began consulting with businessmen. Contracts with the leading agencies were more typical for Russia’s right wing and centrist parties. For the leading public relations players, the left-wingers were politically unacceptable; moreover, the latter’s paying capacity was insufficient. For example, in March 1999 the Right Deal political movement signed a contract with Video In-

ternational covering a package of advertising and public relations services. As Boris Fedorov, the Right Deal‘s leader, pointed out, political movements need help from public relations and advertising professionals: “They are responsible for the campaign’s form, not content. The content is determined by one’s self. To be able to convey your ideas and proposals to society, you need professionals”. The State Duma elections of 1999 became another important phase in the development of Russian political public relations, with consulting agencies and party political consultants being widely employed in the election campaigns. What follows are some general observations on the results of the elections as well as on the content, methods and objectives of the public relations techniques used in the election campaigns of 1990s.

APPEALING TO THE ELECTORATE? First, the parties appealed to pre-existing segments of the electorate. For example, the leadership of the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) agreed to let the right make use of young voters, while the grateful right gave up the older generation as a bad job about to die out anyway. The countryside ‘reactionaries’ mainly voted for the left, and the ‘sophisticated urbanites’ for the right; an inverted picture compared with the ‘civilised’ west. Such are, perhaps, the terms of a larger political game where the actors have been assigned roles beforehand. Experts also unanimously draw attention to the fact that most of the leading political parties and blocs did not have an ideology. The clichés that were once popular, such as “private ownership will revive Russia”, quickly withered in view of the evident social irresponsibility of those who had taken the biggest slices of the social pie. Following and parallel to this partition of property, there developed equally cynical processes of its repartition in favour of the strong. The resulting cynicism and apathy of the public might have quickly led to a problem, with the masses running wild to a dangerous extent. Moreover, long before these elections, polls indicated growing discontent among Russians: people wished for political and social changes. To amalgamate, on the basis of an amorphous patriotism, the interests and political will of the power elite with the naive faith of some segments of the society that a degree of good may come out of the corrupted State is not an easy task and its solution requires skills as well as funding. “The ideal blocs, parties, and leaders were given wide publicity before the elections using methods that lay far away from the ideals of civil society,” writes Ekaterina Egorova, director of the Nikkolo M centre of political advertising. “The 01/2013



THE BIG INTERVIEW Key communicators under the spotlight

SIXTINE BOUYGUES Director for Strategy and Corporate Communication, European Commission Interview: Dafydd Phillips





Photo: EU Etienne Ansotte

Last year you were awarded the French Legion of Honour: congratulations! In your statement, you said that you accepted the award which “recognises my work at the service of a cause I serve with passion, European integration.” What is behind this passion? Europe is part of my DNA. Born in France, with Swedish and Polish origins, I always felt it was a privilege to be both a French and European citizen. Being awarded the French Legion of Honour is recognition by France of my commitment to Europe. I am proud to be part of a project which has already proven its value for 60 years. A project that was initiated by, amongst others, French nationals like Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman. A project that has brought not only peace, but also freedom and justice, democracy and human rights. We have the same rights in other European Union countries as we do in our home country. We can travel, work, study or reside in other EU countries. We can vote in certain elections in other EU countries. We can even receive consular protection outside the EU if our country is not represented locally. Here in Europe, a market of 500 million consumers makes us a first-rate economic power. The current crisis has made us work more closely together than ever. And with globalisation, the EU is increasingly part of the solution for Europeans. You have also been quoted as saying that “Europe is definitely a brand.” How does thinking of the EU in terms of a brand help you set clear goals in your communications work? Indeed, Europe is a brand. It has a brand identity which is visually expressed by the EU emblem and is underpinned by widely recognised

values. Eurobarometer surveys regularly show that the three values which best represent the EU in the minds of Europeans are peace, democracy and human rights. However, this brand does not just belong to the EU institutions in Brussels, but to all EU citizens. People relate to and interpret the EU in different ways, especially in today’s political context. Therefore managing the EU brand is a difficult task. European institutions do their best to explain what the EU does for citizens, but they are not the only brand managers. Other EU brand managers include the national governments, the media, regional and local politicians, think tanks, experts and stakeholders who might be affected by EU policies. They all give their own views and shape the image of the EU. Communicating about specific policies is not enough. The management of a brand is an on-going process where it is always important to refer back to the EU’s core values. The recent award of the Nobel peace prize to the EU is a powerful reminder of this.

I am proud to be part of a project which has already proven its value for 60 years. You’ve also said that although perceptions of the European brand is positive, the EU always takes the blame for wider problems and doesn’t speak up to the same extent that “negativists” do. Why do you think negativity is so potent? Our society is undergoing great changes: globalisation has changed the way people perceive the world. Today, countries are regarded as more vulnerable in the face of the growing power of world markets. With the globalisation of communication and new technologies, people no longer belong just to one country, but to the world. This two-fold globalisation has created a widespread feeling of a loss of identity. The resulting temptation for some in Europe, and not only within the EU, is a “repli sur soi”, a rejection of European as well as national politics. And what do you think are the reasons that have prevented the EU from speaking up in its own defence? I think that the EU has been speaking up in its own defence, through our commissioners, for example. Just look what President Barroso said during his State of the Union address last year: “even more dangerous than the scepticism of the anti-Europeans, is the indifference or the pessimism of the pro-Europeans.” But President Barroso is just one of 29 people sitting in the European council 01/2013



STORY TELLER Looking at the important questions of communication





POWER AND PERSUASION Power and persuasion in political communication “Talking politics” by Dafydd Phillips page 52 - 55

“Helping governments find a voice” by María José Canel page 56 - 59 “Language and politics” by Neil Corlett page 60 - 63

“State of the nation” by Chiara Valentini page 64 - 67

“Political engagement in 140 characters” by Andreas Sandre page 68 - 71

“Promoting a presidency” by Eleonora Gavrielides page 70 - 75

“Measuring influence, gauging reactions” by Fiona Blades and Paul Baines page 76 - 79

“Influencing the influencers” by Elma Peters and Hugh J. Gillanders page 80 - 83

“Delivering digital democracy” by Bruno Kaufmann page 84 - 87 51



Communication director  
Communication director  

Communication director