Brussels, 18 March 2013 – The first prize of the EPACA contest 2013 was handed over by John Bowis and Tom Spencer, members of the EPACA Professional Practices Panel to Ariane Pond-Hubert from Sarah Biontino Consultants during EPACA’s Annual General Meeting.
The first prize of the EPACA contest 2013 was handed over by John Bowis and Tom Spencer, members of the EPACA Professional Practices Panel to Ariane Pond-Hubert from Sarah Biontino Consultants during EPACA’s Annual General Meeting.
The EPACA 2013 Contest, with the topic “How can Public Affairs professionals contribute to getting Europe out of the crisis?”, aimed to highlight the Public Affairs profession and bring recognition to young practitioners. Young talents under the age of 30 and working for consultancies member of EPACA were invited to take part in shaping our profession by sharing their views and experiences in an essay competition.
he Jury was the members of our Professional Practices Panel. Ariane Pond-Hubert was unanimously designated by our Jury as the winner. Her essay showed both talent and originality.
Runners up in the contest were Katelyn Saarinen, from Harwood Lewitt Consulting, ranking second, and Fabian Ladda from Gplus ranking third. We congratulate them for the excellent quality of their essays.
First prize essay of Ariane Pond-Hubert from Sarah Biontino Consultants
“How can Public Affairs professionals contribute to getting Europe out of the crisis?” Europe’s crisis is a crisis of confidence. Confidence in the banking system, in the Eurozone, in institutional policy making, and in European integration itself. Public affairs professionals can help to restore this confidence. How? By acting as the link between policy makers and the wealth and job-creators – a link which the crisis has undermined. If The European project is to get back on its feet, then each side must better understand the aspirations of the other. Policy makers in key EU institutions need to define policies which can be effective and job creators have to implement them without damaging their ability to function. With the knowledge amassed during more than 50 years’ experience in Europe, public affairs professionals can explain, encourage, simplify and stimulate the interface between the institutions and their clients. They are on hand to explain to clients what EU policies aim to accomplish and how they can be put into practice. On the other hand, they also debate with the institutions about what is achievable and what isn’t. Essentially, they form the filter between both sides with the aim of aiding the implementation of effective, non-bureaucratic solutions to the crisis. With their understanding of the arcane construction of both the institutions and their clients, they can design problem solving solutions to this often abrasive relationship. They know people on both sides and can give them a human dimension. Some of the greatest achievements in human construction have been achieved through mutual trust and renewed confidence is what Europe needs today. The setting up of a think tank within EPACA, bringing together public affairs professionals of all ages, could contribute to this project by providing a platform upon which views, independent of client interests, could be shared.
Second prize essay of Katelyn Saarinen, from Harwood Lewitt Consulting
“How can Public Affairs professionals contribute to getting Europe out of the crisis?” At first glance, Public Affairs professionals may find it difficult to quantify their role in the economic success of a company, let alone an entire market. At times their impact is unclear, but when Public Affairs professionals help their clients avoid a regulation that threatens their business, that contribution becomes much more tangible. In this respect, Public Affairs can often serve as a check to the politically motivated expansion of bureaucracy. Ensuring that Europe’s businesses—small, medium, and large—inform the legislative process is imperative to pragmatic, realistic regulations. It would seem, then, that Public Affairs professionals play a key role in fending off excessively and unnecessarily burdensome legislation, so that companies can remain profitable and capable of retaining their employees. Creating a business-friendly environment both encourages entrepreneurs and attracts foreign direct investment. However, there is something more Public Affairs can do to assuage our economic woes. Given that the market is driven by consumer confidence, Public Affairs has a fundamental role to play in building that confidence. Adhering to the tenets of good PA practices, Public Affairs can help industries build trust with their consumer base, or in some cases, re-build trust where it has been lost. One way to do this is to encourage creative, progressive ideas through which win-win solutions are born. There are many examples of Public Affairs professionals creating partnerships between industry and NGOs, the outcomes of which benefit society as a whole. Encouraging this forward thinking can create many more such opportunities. Indeed, as long as Public Affairs professionals conduct themselves scrupulously, increased transparency of the symbiotic relationship between Public Affairs, industry and civil society can stimulate more open collaboration for even more effective results. It is time to recognize the opportunities this crisis presents us rather than lamenting the hardship it has brought.
Third prize – essay of Fabian Ladda from Gplus
“How can Public Affairs professionals contribute to getting Europe out of the crisis?” “Mehr Demokratie wagen” In his first speech before the Bundestag as the Chancellor, Willy Brandt ended his speech with his famous words “Let’s dare more democracy”. I think that audacity is a character trait that most PA professionals are lacking and this explains why they often fall back on classical PA strategies. Yet there is a way to defend the interests of your client and help the EU as a whole: grassroots campaigns. Admittedly this is not the most innovative PA tool, but I think that its potential is widely underestimated. Though mainly used by NGOs, we would do well to extend our kit of PA tools and to involve more often EU citizens in our strategies. And who says that the issue your client is dealing with is not also the bête noire of a broader group of citizens. Grassroots campaigns also help the EU because they get people interested in EU politics which in turn is the most effective way to address the EU’s democratic deficit issue. Since 2010, political parties in Germany have to deal with a new phenomenon: the so-called “Wutbürger” (“enraged citizen”). At EU level ACTA has shown how easily citizens can become engaged and fight for their cause. There are simply some problems that can better be dealt with on a supranational level. In many policy areas the EU institutions, however, still depend on the political will of national decision-makers. We all have the EU citizenship but we have no European public. Hence the EU has no one it can turn to to reach out for support when individual Member States block promising EU initiatives. Citizen involvement can therefore make the difference for your client and provide input-legitimacy for EU policy-making.