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ECOPSI – European Professional Skills and Innovation Programme

Providing insights into communication competencies across Europe

The ECOPSI programme was a two-year research project exploring the competencies required by communication professionals in Europe.  This innovative programme was a partnership of six leading European universities in communication research and education located in Germany, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the UK as well as the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD).

The two-year programme led by Professor Ralph Tench at Leeds Beckett University was the first and largest study of public relations and strategic communication to be funded by the European Union.

The research included quantitative and qualitative data collection from practitioners. An online survey was developed with questions focused on hypotheses for the ECOPSI project about the education, skills and competencies of communication practitioners. The online survey was then distributed via professional networks to communication practitioners from 42 countries across Europe. The English language survey was distributed for four weeks with 4,107 respondents.  To support the quantitative data, 53 in-depth interviews were conducted to gain a deeper understanding on four defined roles: (1) chief communications officer, (2) crisis communications manager, (3) internal communications manager, and (4) social media manager.

The study provided in-depth insights into the competencies needed for these four distinct communication roles and developed a Communication Role Matrix.  The Communication Role Matrix captures what it is a communication professional does and the requirement necessary to perform the role successfully by identifying the knowledge, skills (hard and soft) and personal attributes for each role (Tench et al 2013a, Tench and Moreno, 2015).

The results of the study: (1) analyses the construction and perceptions about the Communication Role Matrix; (2) highlights current contemporary issues faced by the industry; and (3) presents the transference of knowledge from ECOPSI to the professional field through the Portal (for) Advancing Communication Expertise (p4ace) along with a self-diagnostic tool aimed to engage practitioners in continued professional development.

Project website: www.ecopsi.org.uk

Project Director: Professor Ralph Tench

Project completed: 2013

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