Sessions are filling up fast for the 2016 EUPRIO conference and organisers say those planning to join us in Antwerp, Belgium should register now and reserve their place at the workshops and talks that appeal to them, writes Nic Mitchell.
This year the overall theme for the EUPRIO conference is branding – and how university communicators can, and need to, develop their brand to flourish in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Chief organiser Jan Dries, Director of Communications at the University of Antwerp, which is hosting the 2016 conference, said early September is the ideal moment to enjoy the delights of the city of Antwerp.
“The city is less crowded with tourists and the numerous terraces are open till late.
“The social programme will give a great opportunity to discover some of the highlights of the city – from diamonds, fashion and shopping to the port and the city brewery and discovering hidden hotspots and the favourite hangouts of the local”, said Jan.
Antwerp takes over the baton as conference organisers from Perugia in Italy, which hosted a very successful event last year and among those looking forward to the event is Italian Steering Committee member Paola Claudia Scioli, who helped organise EUPRIO 2015.
She said: “The theme of branding selected for Antwerp conference is crucial for the development of European universities and for the positioning of the universities and I’m impressed with the line-up of professional speakers.”
This year the action all starts on Thursday evening September 1 with a welcome reception at the impressive Town hall, one of the first examples of Renaissance architecture in the Low Countries and a UNESCO World Heritage centre. The façade is decorated with the flags of the 28 countries of the European Union, a true welcome to EUPRIO.
The opening keynote speaker on Friday September 2 will be Peter Hinseen, one of Europe’s thought leaders on ‘disruptive innovation’.
His speech on the ‘Day After Tomorrow’ will focus on new ideas, business models and the radically new technologies and concepts that could change the way in which universities operate forever.
Not only do we need to embrace change, Hinseen argues, we need to accelerate it!
He believes digital is ‘merely’ a spark, an enabler and that networks are the true drivers of progress.
His talk will closely examine the world of higher education and ask: How can we incorporate the Day After Tomorrow thinking into the sector? How can we re-think, re-energise, and re-boot higher education, ready for the Day After Tomorrow?
EUPRIO conferences are a little different from many international higher education gatherings, such as the big EAIE, CASE and NAFSA annual events and tend to be more intimate events, with a few hundred rather than thousands taking part.
One who has been attending regularly since 2008 is Rob Tomlinson, Deputy Director of Communications & Marketing at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Rob said: “Attending the annual EUPRIO conference is really useful on a number of levels.
“There’s always a varied range of high quality international speakers conducting seminars and masterclasses on all manner of topics as they affect the higher education sector across Europe, and these are invaluable for the exchange of ‘best practice’ ideas and initiatives.
“I’ve also found the conferences very educational over the years in terms of my understanding of the whole European university sector, the forces and trends at work, the challenges that it faces and how all those things should affect and inform my own institution’s approach to communications and marketing strategies.
“Unlike some of the other larger HE conferences, EUPRIO also has a more intimate feel which really assists with the many networking opportunities available.”
Humanise brands through conversation
Among an appealing array of workshops and masterclasses to select from is a session by Andria Andriuzzi, a researcher in marketing affiliated to the Chaire Marques & Valeurs brands and values research group at the Sorbonne Graduate Business School in Paris.
He will explore how brands can express themselves through conversation on social media sites, and how such conversation can be seen as an attempt to humanise a brand by adopting human behaviour.
But, he warns: “Simply being present on social media or personifying the brand will not suffice, to be more human, brands must participate in quality conversation.”
His session will draw on research from three different recent studies and explore how the findings could, or should, be adapted to the higher education sector.
The power of storytelling
Stories can illustrate the core values of an organisation and make its identity come to life. They can be passed along and are better remembered than abstract values.
So says Ariane Hoffmeester, who manages the corporate identity team at Utretch University in the Netherlands and the ‘Bright Minds, Better Future’ storytelling campaign.
Her interactive workshop will explain how the University, founded in 1636, is exploring a new way of working and thinking where the idea of story-telling is used in all disciplines of communication – from public relations and marketing to the visibility of buildings, campus development and even the choices made for collaborative partnerships.
Don’t overlook LinkedIn
Manoek Los from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences will share the university’s experiences of using LinkedIn as a key part of its communications in her workshop.
Often overlooked for the racier side of social media, such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn is something of a blind spot, a sleeping account where the HR department occasionally posts jobs.
But it is the largest professional social network in the world and Holland has the highest percentage of LinkedIn users.
This interactive session explores the full potential of this professional and social network in such areas as Alumni relations and Research communications and knowledge sharing and networking.
That’s just a flavour of what is offer from the workshops sessions. See the full programme here.
Don’t forget to enter the EUPRIO Awards
One of the high points in EUPRIO conferences are the EUPRIO Awards. They are free to enter for participants and the top prize is a free pass, plus travel and accommodation, to next year’s conference for the winning entry.
There is more about the Awards here but please make a note that the deadline for entries is only two months away – August 22 (revised from August 15).
Hope to see you in Antwerp from September 1-3, 2016. More information here.