In early June, Radboud University at the Dutch city of Nijmegen hosted the 11th European conference of the Association for Business Communication (ABC). ABC members are mainly researchers, educators and trainers of communication, but the voice of communications practice is very much appreciated and the conferences invite practitioners to attend and give presentations.
Speaking of “ Excellence in international communications”, Koenraad van Hasselt, Managing Director of the Dutch communications consultancy Reputation Matters, listed four elements that make excellence:
He further contextualized the “success factors” within the new media environment, offering a few examples of their enormous power (e.g. the story of Dave Carroll vs United Airlines; “United breaks guitars”).
Makes sense, right? Hasselt has extensive experience from communications in international business, and his presentation was built on that solid basis. He knew it because he had seen it all.
Funnily enough, those of us engaged in research were nodding as well. We knew it because we had done research in present-day corporate communication.
So, my point? I guess my main message echoes the conclusions of the practitioner/academic panel also organized at the conference. Four communications directors were discussing with four academics and they started out from describing the “gap” between them. The more they talked, the smaller the gap became – we share the interest in communications but approach it from different perspectives. Academics can not easily offer the quick-fix solutions that business would need – but we can offer insights, tools and analysis for the practitioners struggling with budget pressures, media complexity and resourcing, for example. And what we can get from the practice is something that our lives as academics depend on, i.e. access to data.
It is definitely a win-win. Forget the image of ivory towers.