An immersion in the world of navos
Our advisor Helen Taylor travelled to Berlin in November to get to know our German partner agency navos better. Bijl PR and navos are both members of the Global Communications Alliance (GCA), a global network of communications agencies that share knowledge and experiences with each other but also, where possible, collaborate for clients. To encourage knowledge sharing, the GCA has set up the Leadership Exchange Programme, which gives advisers around the world the opportunity to spend two weeks taking a look behind the scenes of another agency. In this blog, Helen talks about her experience at navos.
The choice was easily made, Berlin it was. Two weeks at public relations and public affairs agency navos, specialising in jobs in the energy sector. Why that choice? Navos combines expertise in public affairs and public relations. And they do so very successfully for their clients. I wanted to find out how best to bring these two expertise together and how they can strengthen each other best. So, off to Berlin!
The first impression
The weekend before my first working day, I took the time to get to know the city of Berlin and made a temporary home of my Airbnb in the Kreuzberg district. Monday morning dawned and I was warmly welcomed to the office on Kurfürstenstraße – a spacious Großraumbüro (open-plan office) with some private offices for colleagues who want to work in a bit more peace and quiet. At navos, as at Bijl PR, they don’t have fixed desks and you can pick one per day. However, you do have to book them in advance, as Berlin has more people working than there are desks in the office. Despite navos being bigger than Bijl PR – it employs 80 people in total, 50 of them in Berlin – the office still felt very cozy and I quickly got to know some faces.
During my two Berlin weeks, I was included in the work of navos. During several meetings with advisers and partners, I learned more about their clients and how they work. I also got to know the people at navos personally. One of the last days I took the ICE to Hamburg to see the navos office in Hamburg and get to know the colleagues there. Hamburg is one of three navos offices and collaborates a lot with the head office in Berlin for customers and on projects. They also have a number of logistics clients based in Hamburg and work for start-ups more often than HQ. Navos Hamburg is located in the office of one of navos’ shareholders – the marketing agency Jung von Mat.
Every agency is different
For me, one of the main differences in terms of organisation was how the agency is organised. At Bijl PR, we all work for different clients at the same time in different teams. At navos, they have organised the organisation differently and many of the consultants work full-time on one client. This ensures great focus and a lot of in-depth knowledge on one client and topic but also less interaction between colleagues. Moreover, I find the variety of topics and clients I have at Bijl one of the best things about my job.
The two weeks were fun and informative, useful for me and Bijl PR, but also hopefully resulting in more international collaborations!
Top 3 learnings after two weeks at navos
- The relationship between spokespersons/communication consultants and journalists is different in Germany than in the Netherlands. There is more room for consultation and adapting quotes and/or texts than in the Netherlands. As a result, spokespersons enter conversations with journalists differently and are less prepared in advance because they know there is room to take things back and have them adjusted.
- ‘Authentic, long-running CSR is never lost in a proper crisis.’ My first lesson on my first day at navos. An organisation that has been engaged in CSR because they are intrinsically motivated to do so and have been for a long time will be able to use this to its advantage in a crisis situation to stay in an authentic dialogue with their public.
- Public affairs and public relations strengthen each other best if they can jointly set the strategy and both give input on that strategy. It is essential that they do not just work together ad hoc, but remain in continuous dialogue with each other to make the most of opportunities. This also prevents the two disciplines from getting in each other’s way.