I will be speaking during the closing session at EuroPComm 2012 this week in Brussels. Hundreds of communication specialists from all levels of EU governments will be there for the third year. This time the agenda focuses on four areas:
- "restoring public confidence
- communicating Europe
- e-communication and social media
- dialogue with youth, senior citizens and ethnic groups"
Apples need to learn from oranges
Too often, government communications experts see their job as unique. The legislative, regulatory and political conditions under which they operate drive them to tune out lessons they might learn from the commercial sector. What can the Ministry of Health in France learn from how brands like Nestle or Unilever are using social media? What can it learn from the Diabetes Foundation? How about from SparkPeople?
Brands are spending billions of dollars understanding how to use social media to drive behaviors. Driven by expediency, the world’s nonprofit organizations are experimenting with the effectiveness of digital and social communications to push their missions forward. And startups around the world are gearing up to disrupt how we used to get things done. In this case, it’s time for us to stop insisting that the public sector is so different that it cannot find valuable lessons in a number of directions.
If I break down some of the conference goals and topics, I find us all convening around:
- Building trust between government and citizens
- Deepening engagement with citizens
- Driving people to action and advocacy
- Listening to better understand needs
- Understanding efficacy of communication efforts
While there are terrific examples from the government sector around the world, my job will be to draw connections to the work of:
- B2B and B2C brands committed to innovating via digital and social media
- Non-profits like Greenpeace and Amnesty International who are mastering social media for greater efficiency (see this infographic on the top nonprofits in social media from Craig Newmark)
- Start-ups who use technology to solve problems in new ways
How can public communication specialists find valuable lessons in this world and maintain a steady flow of new ideas worth considering? I will be interested to hear how 700 of the European Union’s top communications experts manage innovation in social media.