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Episode 03 - The role of communication expert in the EU Bubble

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Welcome to the White Rabbit Hole podcast. Follow us to discover the daily wonders of a young and smart creative agency in the heart of Europe. Today we talk about the role of communication professionals in the EU Bubble is constantly evolving due to several factors, such as the increased use of digital communication tools, the changing media landscape, and the growing importance of social media. In the past, the focus of communications professionals in the EU bubble was primarily on traditional media relations, such as building relationships with journalists, drafting press releases, and organizing press conferences. While these activities are still important, there has been a shift towards a more integrated approach that encompasses a wider range of communication channels, including social media, podcasts, video storytelling, and other digital platforms. Moreover, the EU bubble is becoming more diverse and complex with more actors involved in policymaking and communication activities.

White Rabbit (01:01):

Therefore, communications professionals must be able to identify and engage with a variety of stakeholders, including policy makers, civil society groups, and the general public. In addition, the increasing importance of transparency and accountability means that communications professionals must be able to navigate complex regulations and communicate complex policy issues in a clear and impactful manner. Overall, the role of a communication professional in the EU bubble is evolving to encompass a wider range of skills, including digital communication, stakeholder engagement, and strategic thinking. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and stay up to date with the latest communication trends and technologies is also crucial for success in this dynamic environment. Today we are happy to host Anna Koj, managing director of the Brussels office of Mavence recruiting agency leader in connecting talents and experts to public affairs. Also, the studio today is Alberto Maccari, creative director and founder of White Rabbit Creative Agency, a young communications studio in Brussels, dedicated to creating unique digital assets for public affairs communication projects. Welcome, Anna. Thank you for joining White Rabbit podcast today.

Anna Koj (02:20):

Hi, thank you for inviting me. It's a pleasure,

Alberto Maccari (02:23):

And I'm glad to have you here today. Can you tell us your opinion about what are the major changes that you have observed in the role of communications profile in the EU Bubble in the recent years?

Anna Koj (02:36):

Well, uh, that's a good question, and I think actually, uh, the role and the profile of communications professionals in Brussels has evolved quite a lot over the last months and, and a couple of years even, uh, with a number of changes. But, uh, one of the key things that we are observing is, um, a growing number of stakeholders that communications professionals have to address and be in touch with. And what that means is that our clients and organizations we speak to essentially are looking for corporate communications skills and expertise in, uh, professionals that will then be dealing with communications in a political and policy context. Um, and actually I would be super interested in understanding from you someone who comes from, uh, most of your experience having spent in, in communications in the private sector, what it has been like to move to Brussels and now work with all these actors trying to influence the policymaking process in Brussels.

Alberto Maccari (03:32):

I think that the role of communication expert should not be locked to an industry or audience as the real role of those in this profession is to listen to absorb and translate the needs and into impacts food messages. So we may say that the process does not change. Goals certainly change the strategy to follow and the messages, but thankfully communication is always one objective that it to reach people attention. The key is really to be authentic truth well told, say the mode of mechanics on one of the world's most successful communication agency. That's why it's important for communication guideline me to be part of the process from the early steps so that strategy, creativity, and production speaks the same language with the result that messages are conveyed more effectively.

Anna Koj (04:28):

That's very interesting and it's actually super interesting that we can, we can chat about this because it's, it's very insightful for, for me as well. I have to say, when speaking to communications professionals in Brussels, this is the feedback that we often also get, uh, that they, um, do not always feel they are included at the very beginning of the strategic discussions around, um, the approach that an organization wants to have, uh, at influencing specific, uh, discussions and policy debates in Brussels. Um, so indeed, I think, you know, it's, it's a very good point that a lot of it is about not trying to squeeze in a solution into a kind of a preset, um, model, but rather include the communications professionals from the very beginning, whether they are a consultant or you know, an in-house team member in a strategic discussion so that they then can make best use of their skillset and expertise and advice on the right channels and the right, uh, approaches Absolutely. To communicate the message

Alberto Maccari (05:29):

Correct. Developing a communication strategy with a creative approach means to most of all, creating valid storytelling, a core message that it can be adapted to different media and different target or stakeholders strong enough to don't be distorted and this give you the freedom to experiment or to choose the channel more in line with the campaign.

Anna Koj (05:55):

It makes me think actually about two points on the one hand that, um, I think many organizations in Brussels being used, of course, when they recruit for policy professionals, um, when they look for communications experts, they also want to ensure that they hire someone who already has prior experience in their sector. But based on what you're telling me and you know, what we we're discussing, it seems that indeed, um, you know, the process and the approach is the same regardless of the industry you work with. It's important to understand this industry, but it is very much possible even if, um, maybe you've worked with a similar industry but not necessarily directly already on very specific topics. Um, which I guess also is quite unique to communications professionals, and that is part of the conversation that we are having with many of our clients, um, discussing the types of profiles they need and the core skills that we should be focusing on when helping them to find the right person.

Alberto Maccari (06:52):

Well, I don't know if the right person should be a kind of Swiss Army knife. I believe communication is a process that needs change, exchange and confrontation, even if today more than ever, technology give us the tools to do a lot by ourself, like chat g PT makes us all copywriters, uh, like camera allow us to visualize idea without knowing about design. In my opinion, the skill communication profiles should stress in the selection process is the sensitivity in translating, translating complex messaging into something clear and memorable. Some people do it better with words or the, with video design and bringing together strategies. Copywriters are director and designer is more valuable than try to get the same result from one person only.

Anna Koj (07:44):

But I think, you know, it's an evolving market in a way. If we look at the, uh, the EU bubble and the role of communications experts, what is interesting as well is maybe to try and understand when we talk about communications professionals, because this is yet another reflection, um, based on a number of conversations with clients, but also with candidates that communications professionals can mean many different things. You also mentioned, you know, an art director, a copywriter, right? And, um, sometimes I feel still there is a bit of a misunderstanding or a kind of a false expectation and perception that you may find very easily one person that, you know, on the one hand will be writing like a native and will create impactful stories on the other. We'll be able to add video, uh, recordings and, um, you know, create design for reports, whereas these ultimately might be skillsets, um, that fall into different categories within the communications. As such,

Alberto Maccari (08:43):

Indeed there are differences in roles, but we certainly cannot now approach communication as we did in the past when everyone was in charge of one specific task, ultimately where we want to sell good storytelling. So even if we don't have a support team, a communication expert should be able to show how his idea may be executed, how it would bring to life, and the formers in which it can better resonate with the target audience when presenting idea. I personally rely heavily on mockups and storyboards and video moves to explain and visualize intangible terms, what form a campaign might make take.

Anna Koj (09:28):

I think you're touching on a very interesting point that also is very much related to the changes that we are seeing in how the policymaking is happening. I mean, there are so many issues that are, um, so important to citizens and are extremely emotional as well, that a lot of the policymaking initiatives are starting. The conversations around the policy, uh, the new policy initiatives are starting because of an impetus given by citizens that, uh, really underline that a certain issue is extremely important to them. And so that also would very much sustain what you're saying that organizations that try to influence the policymaking process need to think about how to create impactful stories that will touch the broader group of stakeholders, be it citizens, um, be it policy makers, be it the media, for example.

Alberto Maccari (10:17):

It's true and that's why storytelling is the key.

Anna Koj (10:21):

It does, it does indeed come across as one of the, if not the top skill that, uh, our clients also ask when they look for communications professionals. And I think it's, it's a great sum up in a way because, uh, storytelling is how we create emotions and how we create reactions in others, right?

Alberto Maccari (10:39):

Indeed. And sometimes to create impactful storytelling, you just need to change your point of view to be able to see things from another angle. For example, just today I participated to a briefing meeting with a new client and I was positively surprised when the communication manager told me, in all honesty, we need an external eye. Look at everything we've done in the last 17 years and see if there's still something valid to support a new campaign. That's the right approach. Storytelling is not inventing and is, it's certainly doesn't not mean telling a fairytale storytelling is knowing how to combine your mission, tone of voice and your vision to create a unique message.

Anna Koj (11:27):

Well, I'm really glad that you're bringing these topics, uh, to the discussion and to the agenda in Brussels as well. Having worked within the EU bubble for a number of years, I do see the need for that, and I think it's just beneficial to create a better understanding and also to allow people to make the right use of the communications expertise and to be able to mindfully choose what they really need and what will best suit their organization, uh, needs.

Alberto Maccari (11:55):

Thank you, Anna, for your point of view. I really hope we can talk about this topic again in the future together.

Anna Koj (12:01):

Well, thank you very much for having me. It's been a pleasure. And yeah, happy to keep talking

White Rabbit (12:10):

If you think this podcast was interesting. Please share your thoughts and comments on this topic. Thank you for tuning into the White Rabbit Hole podcast. Join us next week for more insights into the world of creative marketing.

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