Crises are the result of mistakes & mistakes happen all the time

It was back in 2005, while I was working as a correspondent in London, when I got in touch with Dimitris Michopoulos, in relation to the issue Vodafone was facing at that time, what some people called “wiretapping”. Today, 18 years later, I know that he doesn’t like to hear that he is being called the most influential specialist in communication crisis management, and, least of all, the “maestro” that changed the field without him being changed. So, I will say nothing of the above.

He rarely speaks, he is tireless and inventive, he doesn’t forget his co-workers. Today he is with us for a talk, stealing some time from constantly traveling between Greece, UK and USA, working for some of the most prominent CEOs. And, I should mention, that the things he is talking about are the ones about to happen, not the ones already happening.

How much of the essence and the role of communication has changed nowadays?

Communication is constantly changing, evolving and adapting, the same way life does. Besides, communication is intertwined with the existence of life. Life and communication are two inextricably linked meanings. Each one of them is part of the evolution of the other. So, yes, communication has changed impressively, as much as our lives have. And, obviously, as long as new communication channels come up, some of the existing will be losing ground, and others will maintain a substantial or a supportive role in a sole part of our brain.

In the AI era, how much space is left for thought leadership?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the tremendous ability to synthesize knowledge with incredible speed. It has already started producing knowledge as well. But, the creation of knowledge and wisdom, which is a blend of empathy, feelings of failure, lessons taught, and instinct, is still at an embryonic stage. So, there’s still enough room for thought leadership, and I am certain that there will still be enough room in the future. The result of this new type of thought leadership will be the raw material for further evolution of AI models. I believe that this is how things will keep going on. The ongoing creation of new wisdom through leadership will keep improving AI tools and applications.

Is personal branding a luxury or a necessity?

Personal branding exists even from the moment a baby’s name is chosen; As we see lately, parents go through very sophisticated processes when choosing a name for their child. In this sense, a name stands for a set of communication values that parents would like their child to be identified with. So, depending on expectations, ambitions, and aspirations that somebody might have, we have a more or less substantial need for personal branding. In any case, the life and the work of a person are the crucial elements that informally compose his timeless personal branding. Communication can make a difference when it is used to methodically build a strong, robust brand, based on somebody’s life and work. It might also do the contrary if we undermine or ignore the results of this path. Consequently, it’s up to us to judge if personal branding is a luxury or a necessity. But it cannot, under any circumstances, be built in a professional way by someone who is not a professional in this field.

Are crises on a personal or corporate level a one-way road?

Crises are the result of mistakes. And mistakes happen all the time.

If crisis management is the “cure”, how can we define its “prevention”?

As the creation of a systematic, timeless and ever-evolving excellent reputation. A person or a company with an established positive reputation has the ability to overcome a crisis. Because a mistake can be forgiven. As long as it’s just one and as long as it concerns someone who has proved through his professional path that his work adds value to society, his suppliers, his workers etc. The best prevention is honesty, integrity, and empathy. And the best treatment is provided only by experienced specialists.

Is imagination required in the field of professional communication?

Absolutely required! Let us not forget that communication is the only way imagination can be expressed. Imagination has no limit when it finds its way through successfully selected communication channels. Communication has the ability to make imagination take off.

What is the role of insights in drafting a sustainable, productive strategy with a positive sign?

A strategy without insights is no strategy. It’s tactics. It’s a random act or move. Strategy means multilevel knowledge, data analysis, preparation of alternative scenarios, studying patterns etc. Nowadays, though, the most powerful weapon a strategist has at his disposal is AI.

Is this an era where data oppresses creativity?

To a great extent, unfortunately, this is true. Risk avoidance is hidden within data. So is authentic creativity. Obviously, thorough data analysis is absolutely necessary. It’s a prerequisite if you want to know what data indicates. If, afterwards, you choose to ignore them, because your instinct or your imagination tells you to do so, then you should ignore them. Let’s not forget that humanity has evolved thanks to a type of people that has always existed and will keep existing, the ones we usually label as genius & crazy!

If you had not been the person, you are today, what would you like to be?

An astronaut. Because I would always like to be one of those people who bring different worlds closer together, for the common benefit.

Published on ATHENEA