The organisation which unifies Lithuania’s public relations and communication specialists changed its name on 20 March 2018 and is now officially called the Lithuanian Communication Association. Why did the organisation need a new name? What is the expertise of the representatives of this specialty? What role do they play in the modern-day world? And what is the future of communication, on the whole? All these questions were posed to Lina Jakučionienė, Chairwoman of the Board of the Lithuanian Communication Association, during the interview below.
What were the reasons for the replacement of the name of the Lithuanian Public Relations Specialists’ Union with the Lithuanian Communication Association?
Members of the Association had hatched the idea of changing the name for quite some time. Such considerations were prompted by the fact that the name of the association was too long and did not reflect the legal form specified in the Articles of Association of the organisation, namely, an association. Since our association has been increasingly integrating into the international communication community, the aim was to make its name more attractive to foreign markets.
The notion of public relations has expanded and no longer reflects the extent of responsibilities of the experts of this field. The expertise of the PR specialists has considerably broadened out: starting from the development and fostering of reputation of an organisation and finishing with the need to establish and maintain relationship with target audiences by use of digital technology. Social networks, transformation of traditional media have changed the notion of public relations. To keep the pace with this evolution, we have to take a broader view, to educate our colleagues and employers.
The Board of the Lithuanian Communication Association has entered into its second term of office. How would you describe its first term of office?
Improvement of the Association’s reputation, higher awareness of it, regional representation, international cooperation and establishment of closer relationships with business organisations, state authorities and higher education institutions (HEI) of Lithuania, opportunities for the members of the Association to improve their professional qualification during different events – these are only some of the objectives the Board has set for its second term of office.
Over the last year alone, members of the Association improved their qualification in 16 local and international events, gained public speaking skills from the globally renowned public speaking professional Mark Brown, discussed the European communication, had a chance to learn about foreign good practices on the subject of reputation on social networks.
We have established cooperation with almost all Lithuanian HEIs which train PR and communication specialists. Our partners are the biggest global and Lithuanian associations operating in the area of communication, such as Global Alliance, European Association of Communication Directors, European Communication Convention, communication associations of the neighbouring countries – Estonia and Latvia, the Association of Public Relations Agencies and the Lithuanian Marketing Association. We have maintained a particularly successful cooperation with the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language since the preparation of the first ever public relations glossary in Lithuania.
We have been seeking to provide our members with opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills in conferences and seminars organised abroad not only as participants but also as speakers, to take part in commissions, to share their good practices with foreign and Lithuanian counterparts. We are delighted at receiving invitations to take the role of experts in evaluating communication applications in Lithuania’s state institutions.
What Are the Challenges of the Board This Year?
Founded back in 2000, today the Association has over 250 members – PR and communication professionals – working both in private and public domain of Lithuania. This number has been steadily growing and we hope to have over 300 communication representatives by the end of the year.
We will continue developing relationship with all our partners to enrich the cooperation with a broader content and common initiatives. We will put every effort to make business address us when searching for communication specialists since we have the largest employee database and we can recommend qualified professionals. A special focus will be put on relationship with the state sector: we see a lot of room for cooperation while providing consultations on Lithuania’s image, crises management, prevention of propaganda.
Ethics in the area of public relations will remain the focal point of the Council. Around 64% of the PR and communication specialists hold the view that the importance of ethics will grow in the nearest five years. This is the result of a survey on ethics carried out by our Association quite recently. In this context, we are particularly delighted with the cooperation with Transparency International Lithuania and the White Wave (Baltoji Banga) which promotes transparent and responsible business.
Regional development is yet another priority. Although most of our members come from Vilnius, many of our members work in regions thus they are not always able to come and participate in all the events organised in Vilnius. The first step has been made in Kaunas where Kaunas Branch has been set up and which has been actively developing its activities.
What Is the Future of Communication in the Eyes of Your Association?
Global communication trends show that the importance of a communication professional will continue growing in the future. Most of organisations understand the need for such employees and their impact on successful operation.
The field of communication is never isolated from external processes and trends which continuously affect it and which require effort and ability to adapt to them. Today changes are as never before, and the professionals of communication find it important to timely and properly respond to them. As demonstrated by the research conducted in Europe, one of the most important challenges for the communication sector today is the necessity to adapt to the digital and social network evolution and the entrenchment of visual and hyper-modern culture.
When the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg said more than 10 years ago that privacy limits were being re-drawn, many people were shaking their heads. His words have come true and we are now acting in the environment where publicity is taken for granted. Communication has become as important as breathing. Thus we should ask ourselves, whether an organisation can survive in the modern-day world without communication skills?