Personal Communication, Ethics and CSR

The topic of "Personal Communication in Corporations" was examined from a scientific and practical perspective: Professor Claudia Mast (University of Hohenheim) and Martina Rauch, Head of Corporate Communications at Giesecke & Devrient Munich, presented the different formats of personal communication and the related expectations and actual employee satisfaction. During the discussion it became clear that the success of personal communication not only depends on the formats (e.g. town hall style meetings or business breakfasts), but content and protagonists of personal communication also have a considerable impact on employee satisfaction.

Professor Ansgar Zerfass of the University of Leipzig ventured to take a look at the future of the profession. In a series of interviews among 40 communication executives and next generation communication professionals were asked about the visions, trends and future perspectives of corporate communication. The presentation of the results prompted a debate on the training and skills needed by young professionals in communication departments.

Professor Günter Bentele (University of Leipzig) and Alexander Wilke, Global Head of Communications at ThyssenKrupp Essen reported on scientific findings and practical experiences with regard to ethical communication guidelines in communication departments. In practice, the use of ethical codes tend to be preceded by cultural changes within an organization. Alongside raising employees’ awareness of the rules of engagement of corporate communications, Alexander Wilke at ThyssenKrupp launched a new initiative. All employees in the communication department sign a document committing themselves to the corporation’s communication ethics guidelines.

The success factors of corporate responsibility (CR) in corporations were discussed by Professor Ulrike Röttger (University of Münster) and Britta Kopfer, Head of Communications Germany at BP Europe Bochum. The results of recent surveys revealed that diverse structural and communicative factors contribute to the success of CR in companies. Britta Kopfer confronted the participants with the practical question of the media’s lack of lacking interest in CR. This prompted a controversial discussion about the target groups of CR engagement and the practical problems of dealing with CR issues in media relations.

Highlight of the conference was the cultural evening program at the me Collectors Room at the Olbricht foundation in central Berlin. Private art collector Thomas Olbricht guided the participants through the ’Wunderkammer’, an exposition of more than 200 precious art treasures from the Renaissance and Baroque period. Surrounded by contemporary arts masterpieces, the guests enjoyed a four-course dinner in the modern arts exposition hall. The evening was accompanied by the a cappella quartet Klangbezirk who skillfully improvised pop and jazz pieces.