Inside Portugal: Eduardo Guedes de Oliveira, APCE President, talks about the digital challenge, the role of communication in economic recovery and APCE Grand Prix
Eduardo Guedes de Oliveira
Can you give us an overview of the status of public relations practice in Portugal? What are the key areas of growth for Portugal’s PR sector?
I believe I can say that the practice of PR in Portugal, although being a small country, is really advanced, modern, following the most innovative trends and with a good reputation standard. Although the PR market is not that big compared with other European countries, APCE, in its 24th year, has a high degree of participation.
Almost every company has a PR department and we can see it either in public sector or in not-for-profit organizations. On the agenda still is the reputation of the profession, because there are many people that define themselves as a communication or PR professional but have no educational background in these areas. so this is one of major challenges for APCE. However, with the rise of PR degrees (mainly Bachelor degrees), we are now seeing more and more PR candidates entering the profession.
How has the recent severe economic crisis affected the public relations industry in your country? In your view, what is the role of communication in economic recovery?
Great changes come in crisis periods and one can say that happened in Portugal in recent years. Although communication and advertising budgets got smaller (really much smaller), PR emerged and is a better alternative for companies investing a lot in this area.
Nevertheless, those were (and still are) hard times for agencies, specially the ones specializing in events. Most of these took this as an opportunity to start their internationalization specially for the African Portuguese-speaking countries.
Fortunately the situation is getting better and we have seen the industry experience greater activity during the last year. PR professionals were crucial in handling those times, engaging the citizens towards public interest or company goals.
At the forthcoming 2014 World Public Relations Forum delegates will discuss the “digital challenge” as one of key challenges on the global agenda. How are Portuguese public relations and communication professionals dealing with the spread of new technologies and the digitization of communication?
Portugal is always a surprise, I may say! PR and communication professionals (as well as the our citizens) adapt themselves quite easily to new trends and that happened exactly with the new technologies and social media.
The traditional media channels are losing their importance and nowadays everything happens “in the laptop screen…” with social media classified as a mainstream media. But, there’s no point being 2.0 outside if you are not even 1.0 inside...
On July 15th the Portuguese Association for Corporate Communication (APCE) held its Annual Grand Prix Gala. What best practices were recognized?
The APCE Grand Prix, which has been held since 1995, had its annual Gala on July 15th. This is one of our main activities because it has strong focus on the recognition of professional excellence in public relations.
The Grand Prix recognizes projects strategically implemented in companies, with a variety of categories including ‘communication campaigns’, ‘CSR projects’, ‘internal and external events’, ‘media relations’, ‘corporate publications either for internal and external audiences’, ‘websites’, ‘intranets’, ‘videos’ or ‘corporate televisions’. In total we have 20 categories in the competition covering, we think, almost all the strategies and tactics undertaken by a PR professional. And, as we always say, communication and PR managers should take pride in what they do and not fear the comparison with their peers.
The Portuguese Association for Corporate Communication has a strong relationship with the Federation of European Internal Communication Associations (FEIEA). How do they work cooperate and work together?
FEIEA connects European internal communicators and aims to speak with a European voice on internal communication issues. Its independence provides a network of professional support for internal communication professionals whose responsibilities include communication strategy and planning, employee engagement and change management, as well as the management and operation of print-based, audio-visual or electronic communication channels.
It is to this network that APCE is linked, providing knowledge of corporate communications subjects, encouraging the practice of ‘doing things the right way’ and delivering best-practice sharing and networking at a European level.
Our national members (either an individual or working a corporate member) benefit from this. APCE is delivering a European product at national level, as FEIEA is the result of the sum of its members and facilitate the workflow between them. And maybe it would be important for all that FEIEA and Global Alliance move closer in the future, reflecting the growing importance of internal communication, something that would have particular significance given the FEIEA’s Certification project that will be launched later in 2014. This is a subject and project of major importance for APCE since we’ve been discussing the certification practitioners for a long time.