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From Melbourne to Madrid: How Dircom is shaping the future of practice in Spain and preparing for the next WPRF in 2014

November 30, 2012



Q: What was your lasting impression of the 7th World Public Relations Forum in Melbourne? What are the main issues or ideas that will stay with you?


A: I usually have two main motivations for attending at every forum: first, to approach to the latest trends to learn how to improve my job; and second, to get ideas about organizing convenient professional events. The 7th World Public Relations Forum fulfilled both expectations, because I got a deep view under the Public Relations and Communications industry scope as well as some interesting lessons from the Global Alliance organization of that world congress.

José Manuel Velasco, President of the Spanish Communication Directors Association (Dircom)



On the ideas point of view, the forum helped me to confirm my understanding on how PR and communications are evolving from models based on relationships with the media and propaganda, to a global view of the stakeholder engagement. I believe we are moderators of the stakeholder dialogue, trying to match the mission and the vision of our organization to the needs and expectations of its shareholders, employees, customers, providers and, further on, the society we collaborate to build.


The Melbourne Mandate is a key reference for driving the PR profession to our role as change management leaders and also to convince our peers that sustainability goes beyond financial and commercial performance. PR is a young profession which needs global shared references and the Melbourne Mandate gives us a smart one.



Q: Dircom will host the next World Public Relations Forum in Madrid in 2014. What does hosting this global event mean to the Spanish PR and communication management community?


A: We are very proud to host the next WPRF. The Global Alliance bet on Dircom is like a present we receive in our 20th anniversary of the foundation, but moreover it is a great challenge. The Spanish economy, as part of the European Union, has speeded up its globalization process in the last 15 years. As PR managers we have followed that path, but we must convince ourselves that we should lead that process as we are more focused on the vision of the company, than on the daily mission.


We are absolutely committed to organize a magnificent congress with more than 1.000 delegates. Spain has demonstrated its skills and expertise hosting world class events and Dircom will try to combine a nice conference with the appeal of our history, culture, heritage, food and, overall, polite people and A1 communication managers.



Q: Spain is going through a tough financial crisis, which deeply affects the economy and the society. How is the PR and communication industry affected by this challenging situation and how can it help the organizations coping with this crisis?


A: The Spanish crisis has two causes: the European sovereign and political crisis and our own real state bubble, which was the most clear sign of and ending growth model. We are suffering, as well as other European countries, a political and economic crisis and part of the solution have to come from the European Union itself. The future of the European Union is on the table. After the Second World War the European debate was about peace versus war; now is about clout versus irrelevance.


The crisis is having two effects on the PR industry: on one hand, it is suffering budgets cuts, mostly on the advertisement scope; on the other hand, communication managers have strengthened their role and responsibility due the impact of downturn cycle on the intangible values and, besides that, because stakeholders are more active. The crisis has underlined the relevance of working on the stakeholder engagement, especially on employees. We are living turbulence times and PR managers have the responsibility and the opportunity to show our leadership within the organizations.



Q: Tell us more about Dircom. What role does it play in the professional community and what are the main challenges?


A: Dircom has more than 800 members, 65% from companies, 25% from PR agencies and 10% from academic institutions and free lancers. The association has three main missions: to raise the influence of our job, providing arguments to achieve recognition for the strategic role that communication must play at the organizations; to give knowledge and training; and to create a powerful professional network. The main challenge is to convince all CEOs that the Communications Director must be seated in the Executive Committee and has to be able to manage the right budget to perform properly his mission.



Q: One of the main pillars of Dircom is CSR: to what extent is CSR developed among your members and organizations based in Spain and how is it integrated into organizational strategy?


A: As Melbourne Mandate shows, the organizational nature is built by what you say and what you do. The coherency between what you say and you really do is the main driver of belief and reputation. This means that communication managers must work on facts and behaviors. We are leaving behind propaganda models while we are building belief models based on truthful brands and managers who deliver decisions and take care to the ethical performance of their companies and institutions. In that sense, the CSR Plan must be integrated in the Strategic Plan and should be leaded by a top Executive working with the CEO side by side. CSR must be leaded by the Communication Director and performed by all the corporate and business units. We believe that the Communication Director must be Senior Vice President and has to be responsible for the media relations, internal communications, branding, corporate marketing, lobbying, events management and CSR.