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Corporate Affairs Summit ’16: Insights to Influence

Vice President, Ivan Levacic, headed north to attend the 2016 Corporate Affairs Summit in Sydney. Here are his insights.

While there should probably be a joke that starts with the question, “What do you get when you put 300 communicators in a room”, the decidedly unfunny, but encouraging answer might go something like “proof that the profession is dynamic, evolving and really finding its feet in the corridors of Australian business and government”.

 

The Corporate Affairs Summit is Australia’s largest annual gathering of innovators, minds, movers, shakers and makers in the fields of PR, Reputation, Crisis Communications, Influence and Brand. The CAS 2016 event in Sydney last month featured an international and national “Who’s Who” of communications leaders ready to share and challenge, (thankfully, only occasionally to spruik) and to collectively shine a light on the nature of communications in a 24/7 landscape where the established rules of politics, economics, information and social organisation are rapidly being re-written.

 

For a solid 2-day program of presentations, workshops, panel discussions and forums, the quality of content and presenters from top tier corporations and government agencies locally and internationally was uniformly excellent – testament to the growing prominence of the CAS, which has gone from fairly humble beginning to become one of the “must attend” events for professional communicators.

 

In 2 days of highlights it was difficult to isolate individual standouts, but strong themes emerged from the various presentations and panel sessions. An emerging theme in the Australian professional landscape (and as was shown in the recent success of Australian communicators at the global IABC Gold Quill awards in New Orleans) – is the realisation that the best Australian work across the corporate affairs spectrum, well and truly stands alongside the best from our colleagues and peers overseas. The better news is that it’s them that are recognising and telling us this, and encouraging us to continue to build a vibrant, adventurous and internationally relevant professional culture in Australia.

 

Another theme that crystallised over the 2 days was that of the relationship between the democratisation of information, and the power of transparency and genuine engagement to build reputations and brands.  The opening keynote from Bayer AG’s Global Brand and Government Relations head, Herbert Heitmann cautioned that “Your own voice is the one with the least credibility”. He observed that in a world where that the traditional holders of information – mainstream media, corporate and political interests – no longer had the tools of persuasion to themselves, being open, authentic and collaborative enough to have others willingly tell your stories on your behalf is the foundation of successful contemporary communications.

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