Thursday, March 19, 2015

We Cannot Overlook Ethics

A guest post from Vincenzo Le Voci, Secretary General of Europe’s Club of Venice, and Administrator for Press & Communication, Directorate of Communication & Transparency, Council of the European Union.

As government communicators, we know it is difficult enough to build winning communication strategies with content and tools that get through to broadly varied audiences and perceptions. But if we lack or overlook ethics, we should consider a career change NOW!

Governmental and institutional communication has traditionally been tough work. In Europe, we may sometimes call public sector communication "mission impossible." Multi-culturally diverse audiences in each country and locality, cross-border communication considerations, economic stagnation, security concerns and perceptions of threats to sovereignty all contribute to the challenges in the European Union.

How to take into account the variety of audiences in each country? How to build cross-border communication synergies in times of economic stagnation, high unemployment rates, and threats to security? How to better inform citizens about policies having an impact on their habits without running the risk of misperceptions (solidarity v s. loss of sovereignty)?

But in all societies, the communicators’ abilities and willingness to root their advice and statements in honesty – and firmly grounded in the complexities of the real world – can make the difference.

If ethics are driving our steps, all the rest comes naturally. Ethics drive our ability to develop mutual respect and trusted relationships, allow for the willing exchange of best practices and winning models among peers, and having courage and determination in the pursuit of common ground,

This is the only way to break through barriers (differing languages, cultures, socioeconomic factors, and historical prejudices and mistrust).

Without communication ethics, we can expect the smallest incidents to compound into major crises, increasingly affecting all sectors of society. Without communication ethics, anything and everything could take a turn for the worst.

So what happens when we’re asked to defend the positions of political masters who may ignore ethical values or are guided by other interests? 
Attend my keynote session on Thursday, June 4 at the NAGC Communication School in Memphis and learn about how we’re trying to establish clear ethical rules or a code of conduct to address the unique challenges and responsibilities of government communications in Europe.

Hope to see you there!

Vincenzo Le Voci is Secretary-General of the Club of Venice (network of communications directors from the European Union Member States, institutions and countries candidate to the EU membership) and has been a EU Council official since 1992. He has worked on Transparency and Information Policy issues since 2001. He works for the "Public Relations" Unit and is coordinating the communication agenda of the Council Working Party on Information. He consolidated his experience within the Council by working in the Linguistic Division, Research and Technological Development, Education and Culture and Staff Training Departments. Before reaching the EU framework in 1992 he worked in the NATO as Housing Manager for the US Air Force (1985-1991) in a Tactical Air Training Installation in Sardinia, which he joined after serving the Italian Army. He is a native of Calabria (South Italy) and speaks Italian, English, French, Spanish and some German. He holds a Master Degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures (University of Cagliari) and has followed Modern History, European Integration and management courses in Belgium and with US Universities. He has written articles for communications books and magazines and lectured at universities in Lille (France) and Milan (Italy). He has a rich home library with over two-thousands books (literature and theatre) and writes poetry in Italian, English and French.

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