What does it mean to work in comms in the Brussels bubble?

Brett Kobie

Trolling through the organigrammes of interests (public and private) represented in Brussels, odds are you’ll see someone with “communications” in his/her title. Advisors, officers, assistants, managers, counsellors – we’re all communicators by designation, but what purpose do we actually serve in our organisations?


Type-casting Brussels communicators

What I’ve found is that Brussels expects dramatically different things from its comms folks, but for the sake of brevity, let’s say that there are two types of communicators here:

Type 1: You draft press releases and brochures and business cards. You’re asked to investigate the question “should we be on social media?” only to ultimately be ignored or limited to one tweet weekly announcing non-news like “The European Typewriter Manufacturers Association saddened to learn of Commission’s bulk purchase of Dell desktops”. In short, you sit on the sidelines and exist only to support the rest of the staff – the thinkers in your organisation who really matter.

Type 2: You draft press releases and brochures and business cards…but you also occupy a respected seat in the boardroom, contributing strategic insight to your organisation’s every move. You translate regulatory mumbo jumbo into regular joe speak and call BS when your public affairs chief says “there is no media angle to help us win this battle”. You shape your organisation’s agenda and are viewed by peers as an intellectual equal – you’re not just there to proofread their English and they know it.

Obviously these are extreme caricatures and most of us would like to think of ourselves as somewhere in the middle (depending on what day of the week it is). Brussels is changing though and many outfits have realised the need for strong comms leadership. You can concoct a million pieces of the puzzle that is your strategy but only a good communicator can bring all the parts together to tell your story to a Brussels audience (and beyond).

But sadly, I’d say a hefty percentage of BXL is still stuck in the communications stone ages, calling their comms team in only when they need a powerpoint rejiggered.

In comms we’re all about the call to action: here’s a good one

So listen up late adopters – an MEP is not a Commission official is not a Perm Rep is not a member of the general public – you may know what you want to say to them, but do you really know how to say it? Really?

Bring your comms folks in on the conversation – they probably have more to offer than you think.

A version of this post first appeared on kobiebrett.com, but even though google hates duplicate content, I couldn’t resist the urge to test out LinkedIn’s publishing platform, which is now finally available to folks based in Brussels.Views here are my own and not those of any present or past employer or client.