A lot of things happened, so buckle up, because here come our 2024 AMEC Global Summit highlights!

This story began exactly a year ago when our CEO Ilia Krastev shared the news that A Data Pro will be bringing the AMEC Global Summit to Sofia, Bulgaria, as the headline sponsor.

The decision was made in sunny Miami, right after the curtains were drawn on the 15th edition of the summit. Excitement immediately skyrocketed as we started counting down the days to 21 May when we would be welcoming communicators, public relations professionals, and experts involved in the research and analytics industry from all over the world to the vibrant Sofia.

Before we knew it, the AMEC Summit was upon us.

DAY 1 [May 21, 2024]

Registration opened at noon, but A Data Pro’s marketing team was already at the scene, making sure everything was going smoothly like butter. Even earlier at the scene were the busy ladies behind the registration desk, including Nelly Benova, Irina Panayotova, Elitsa Videnova, and our very own Viktoriya Ikononova.

Ani and Viktoriya behind the registration desk

Within a few hours, the second floor at the Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia slowly started to come to life as the sounds of footsteps mingled with the murmur of conversation. We could hear the elevators open every few minutes, releasing a stream of guests into the hotel’s corridors, and adding to the ambience of the bustling second floor.

Networking session organised by Commetric

After the AMEC International Board Meeting was disassembled, it was time for the show to start! We all quickly headed to Newton Hall, where we joined an exciting networking session organised by Commetric. Strangers, now acquaintances and potential business partners, shook hands and exchanged business cards and LinkedIn profile links, as they shared information about themselves and built valuable connections.

Parched, we all headed to the Exhibitor hall where we were greeted by much-needed drinks and snacks, courtesy of Opoint.

DAY 2 [May 22, 2024]

Photos at the A Data Pro booth

The theme of the 2024 AMEC Summit was “Innovation, Implementation and Insights: The Global Communication, Data, Measurement and Evaluation Journey.”

While the keynote speakers and panelists were preparing to take over the stage, things were starting to get fun at A Data Pro’s photo booth where our marketing team, including Anna Tsenova, Maria Mincheva, Dilek Asanoska, and Jana Milosheva, were busy with many tasks, the most entertaining of which included printing out photos for AMEC participants to take home as tangible memories of the event, and giving out goodie bags to celebrate A Data Pro’s 25th anniversary of navigating unexplored potential.

Johna Burke, AMEC’s CEO and Managing Director, and Aseem Sood, AMEC’s Chairman, officially opened the conference and did some housekeeping for the event, followed by a speech by A Data Pro’s CEO Ilia Krastev, who had just wrapped up an interview with bTV Media Group.

A Data Pro Ilia Krastev for bTV

Soon after, the Mayor of Sofia, Vassil Terziev, addressed the participants and spoke about Sofia’s thriving economy, innovating IT sector, and excelling research institutions and companies, which are tackling the communication-related challenges of tomorrow, such as misinformation, conflicting messages, critical thinking – all with the intent to build a healthy society in the future.

Vassil Terziev then sat down with Johna for a one-on-one interview, in which they covered multiple topics including his career path, from technology entrepreneur, corporate executive, and venture capitalist to politics. They also discussed the impact of misinformation and disinformation on societies, and the importance of connecting directly with citizens, so the right messages can be pushed at the right time to the right place to accelerate problem-solving.

Johna Burke with the Major of Sofia, Vassil Terziev

Among the speakers, Nicole Moreo, Director of the Customer Insights team for North America at LinkedIn, was the first one to take the stage where she shared new research and metrics from LinkedIn important for marketing and communications, and stressed the importance of aligning marketing and sales to drive business growth and customer retention.

We then moved onto the “UNDP Weather Kids – Global Taskforce for Good” session where Rob Morbin (Executive Director, International Communications Consultancy Organisation), Andras Sztaniszlav (Strategic Communications Consultant, President of HuPRA, CEO, ICCO), Dylan Lowthian (UN Development Programme Head of Media Relations), and Raina Lazarova (Co-Founder and COO of Ruepoint, AMEC Board Member) talked about the UNDP Weather Kids campaign, a product of the unique collaboration between ICCO and the UNDP. The campaign asks the most crucial question for our future: what will it [the weather] look like when our kids are our age?

After a networking break, we listened to Elmeirillia Lonna (Head of Communications Management System & Partnership at PT Astra International Tbk), who taught us how to say good morning (selamat pagi) when in Indonesia, setting a positive mood, before she shared how Astra Communications Management System has played a key role in advocating for the adoption of the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework throughout the group.

Amith Prabhu, the founder of The Promise Foundation, followed with “Reputation GREATness” and talked about how reputations are built to gain credibility. During his presentation, he argued that the objective of reputation-building is to gain goodwill, command respect, increase engagement, build affinity, and earn trust.

Roy Persson (Head of Corporate Reputation & PR at the National Research Group), Sarah Myles (Director of Communications Measurement & Insights at McDonald’s), and Abby Scott (Manager of Communications Measurement & Insights also at McDonald’s) delivered a joint presentation on the future of reputation management in which they shared their measurement and insights framework criteria and how to use reputation data to predict reputation outcomes that impact business longevity.

Andrew Perrin, the Strategic and Corporate Communications Specialist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), shared visuals of ADB’s communication journey which put measurement in the middle and created a communication value chain within a year that embeds data collection, analysis and insights-sharing processes that strengthen upstream planning and client engagement to reach target audiences.

The Copyright Today session was divided into two parts:

In part one, Christophe Dickès (Global Media & Copyright Director at Onclusive) spoke about the increasing importance of copyright in the age of AI. He highlighted the contribution by AMEC and FIBEP to the European Copyright Directive and shared the expectations of FIBEP members from the Copyright Commission.

In part two, Johna Burke sat down with Thomas Netousek, the CEO at eMedia Monitor, in which he spoke about creating an independent organisation, a content licensing hub, that will ensure transparency and ease of use of content. By ease of use, Thomas said that every piece of content will have a label and be colour-coded (green, yellow, red) so the end user knows whether that content can be used or not.

After a networking lunch, participants gathered back to the Millennium room, where Larry DeGaris, the Executive Director at the Medill Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University, described the current state of sponsorship measurement as “sad”. DeGaris noted that despite billions in rights fees spent on marketing communications connected to sponsorship, the industry is still focused on measuring outputs and not outcomes and that the path forward includes moving past media equivalencies, activation studies across activation planks, including more media and marketing communication options in MMMs, and field experiments.

Jim Macnamara, Distinguished Professor in the School of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney, imparted one-third of the knowledge required for a PhD in evaluation of public communication in less than one hour, in which he condensed and compressed vital advanced knowledge into simple explanations and practical applications. He shared valuable insights, including the integrated Measurement, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) framework which has three key elements: program theory, theory of change, and realist approaches; program logic models, SMART objectives, KPIs, and a new taxonomy of metrics, indicators, and methods.

We took a break and came back to the insightful panel discussion moderated by Raina Lazarova, featuring Kalin Dimtchev (General Manager Adriatics Region, Microsoft), Mariya Jeliazova (Cluster Communications Lead, Balkans, AstraZeneca), and Svetoslav Ivanov (Journalist and TV Anchor, bTV). The panel covered multiple topics, including generative AI, and discussed the areas where AI is bringing value to communication professionals, notably healthcare. They also touched upon Google‘s new AI overview feature and its influence over the media sector, and how Microsoft’s marketing team is overcoming challenges to promote their AI products.

Andre Manning (Director of Communications & Public Affairs (CCPA), Tata Steel Nederland) took the stage as the last speaker for the day and talked about how data and measurement saved him in the boardroom. Manning shared lessons he learned during his time at Philips and Booking.com, and spoke about his current communication measurement strategies as part of Tata Steel.

Aseem Sood wrapped up Day 2 with his overview of the day and announced that Raina Lazarova, the co-founder and COO from Ruepoint, would be taking over his position as AMEC chair.

The last stop of the day was the Bulgarian Prom-themed Gala, sponsored by the Municipality of Sofia, that lasted well into the wee hours of the night as organisers, sponsors, speakers, and delegates came together to dance, eat, and drink the night away!

Atmosphere at the Gala dinner sponsored by the Municipality of Sofia

DAY 3 [May 23, 2024]

Waking up early for Day 3 was a bit of a struggle after a great party night, but everyone was up on time and populating the two halls where speakers held their presentations: Millenium Room and Einstein Room at the Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia.

After some housekeeping, Jonny Bentwood, Global President Data & Analytics – Golin, took the stage and spoke about how teams can use data to disrupt and grow their business. He spoke about Golin’s 2024 data stack and focused on four different areas: data for insight, data for sales, data for unlocking, and data for optimisation. In addition to providing real-life case studies on how to use data to measure sales impact such as the LEGO flowers campaign for Valentine’s Day, he also simulated a Teams call with two deep fakes to illustrate how easy it is to use this technology to spread misinformation and disinformation as well as commit fraud.

Devora Kotseva on stage

Across the hall, in the Einstein room, A Data Pro Training Specialists Todor Kiriakov and Devora Kotseva shared the methodology they are developing to combat Information Operations (IO) that consists of three main parts: Detect, Measure, and Profile & Analysis. They shared real-life examples supported by data of how IO target companies and threaten their reputations and explained how media intelligence can help us detect, monitor, measure, and assess IO. They stressed the fact that these operations can threaten any entity, which is why an improved understanding of IO can enhance strategic efforts to strengthen the information resilience of societies, institutions, and businesses.

Todor Kiriakov on stage

Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., APR , President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, shared information on how to leverage insights to combat disinformation in an increasingly polarised society. Her presentation highlighted the types of misinformation that have the biggest impact on businesses, noting that disinformation is effective because it often tugs at people’s emotions, notably anger, causing them to share it on social media – the most culpable media for spreading disinformation.

What followed was a panel focusing on mergers and acquisitions, moderated by Johna Burke and featuring John Croll AM (Co-Founder & CEO, Truescope), Mazen Nahawi (Founder & CEO, CARMA), and Sandra Macleod FIPR, CCIM (Group CEO, Echo Research). The speakers stressed the importance of honesty, preparation, and expectations during M&A as well as having clarity on what is special about your business, highlighting the importance of cultural and linguistic differences that add sensitivity to how M&A are approached.

Sofia Tzamarelou, Ph.D. Author, a Senior Consultant at Commetric, shed light on the cognitive bias and its impact on analysis measurement and AI utilisation. She noted that when dealing with data that is fed to AI, we have to cut and slice it and look at it from as many different perspectives as possible in order to cut or mitigate bias. She also shared the following structured analytic techniques: team A vs team B, “What if” analysis, devil’s advocacy, and brainstorming.

Matt Oakley (Global Head of Data & Analytics, Hotwire) and Natan Edelsburg (Chief Partnerships Officer, Muck Rack) sat down for a fireside chat and discussed the results of a survey they conducted last year that showed how important media measurement and reporting are in the communications industry. The survey showed that measurable results are the leading way PR pros can increase their value, which is why they are focusing on helping their clients, including Indeed, eBay, and Endava to evaluate and scale their current measurement tactics.

Nesin Veli and Amrita Sidhu shared the story of their successful partnership, demonstrating how the collaboration between Identrics and Medianet has set new industry standards. They explored the evolving media landscape, the rise of generative AI, and the strategic advancements that have driven Medianet’s success through our partnership. They wrapped up their presentation with the symbolic Espresso Martini Nesin made for Amrita, representing the perfect blend of precision, efficiency, and creativity.

Nesin and Amrita on the stage

After a networking break, Jack Murray , the CEO and Founder of MediaHQ, talked about the data-driven journey of a PR practitioner, from the inception of a story idea to its far-reaching impact, assisted by AI-empowered content creation that together with data amplifies storytelling success. He described Media Intelligence as the result of an equation that combines spark, action from a client, and a reaction from the world. He also discussed the story circle (Audience > Message > Send > Analyse > Calibrate > Audience), which he illustrated through the Dogs Trust case study.

After a coffee break, another panel ensued titled “SAAS Needs CAAS”, this time moderated by Raina Lazarova, who was joined by Orla Graham MPRCA (Insights Consultant, CARMA) and Ed Morley (Managing Partner, Point 600). The speakers discussed the consultative value in the SAAS model and why AI makes Consulting As A Service increasingly important for insights.

Maya Koleva, Director of Research & Insights at Commetric, zeroed in on GPT and talked about the changes that generative AI caused globally, including in the PR measurement and evaluation industry. She noted that we see four types of tools/offerings that have appeared in the last 18 months since GPT took the internet by storm: writing assistants, automated insights, chat interface for search, and backend features/additions.

Sven Winnefeld, Strategy Director, AI at Hotwire, spoke about how to influence GenAI chatbots to create a measurable impact on brand awareness, credibility and sales. Winnefeld says that we should change our perspective and instead of asking “What are we doing with generative AI?” we ask: “What are our audiences doing with generative AI?” One of the answers that he identified was that our audiences are using these tools to do research – they are researching brands, products, recommendations, etc – so these AI tools are becoming customer touch points.

“In AI we trust – Do we?” This was the main question of the panel discussion featuring Julia Petryk (Co-founder, PR Army), Christina Rettig (Head of Strategic Marketing & Communication, SCHOTT), and Ana ADI (Professor of Public Relations/Corporate Communication, Quadriga University of Applied Sciences). The discussion highlighted the relationship between trust and trustworthiness and how it related to AI use in PR, noting that AI can be a powerful tool for both detecting and disseminating disinformation.

Stavros Vologiannidis, founder of DataScouting, shared a simplified Media Intelligence data pipeline and advised to own your data and ingest it in a platform because it gives you the flexibility to produce and/or ingest data that is important to your customers, giving you control over it. The other option he highlighted was Cloud, adding that the main shortcomings of this method are changes in cost, which is why the best option in this case would be Multicloud.

Robert Kabus, Managing Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Dataxet, argued that despite having moved on from vanity metrics such as AVEs, newer approaches to PR value still fail to align measurement with actual PR goals and contributions. He spoke about the so-called PR Value Continuum, which has evolved from vanity ad metrics (AVEs), through tactical Comms metrics (outputs, visibility, messaging, tonality), to Universal PR contributions – a recently developed methodology based on three core contributions that PR makes to every campaign: awareness, credibility and influence.

Rachel Phillips, Director at Ipsos UK for the Corporate Reputation team, talked about the global trends for communications leaders and shared key findings from the 2024 Ipsos Reputation Council report, based on interviews with 135 CCOs from some of the largest companies in the world. Among many other findings, the research showed that the CCO role is evolving, with agility, flexibility, and resilience being the key attributes needed for comms and corporate affairs professionals now and in the future.

Iva Grigorova, the Managing Director at MSL (Global), Part of Publicis Groupe Bulgaria, spoke about PR measurement through the lenses of influence and impact. She introduced the concept of synchronicity and highlighted the value of PR which includes improved image and reputation, loyalty and community, and market position and business outcomes.

Allison Spray (Managing Director, Data + Analytics, Hill & Knowlton Strategies) and Kyle Mason, (Head of External Monitoring – Corporate Relations, Shell) sat down together with Johna in the Millenium room and discussed the benefits and value when trying to determine whether buying a ready-made solution is the better alternative to building your own proprietary solution.

“Is Your Data Actionable, or Circling the Drain?” – Tim Marklein, Founder & CEO at Big Valley Marketing, argued that despite having access to so much data nowadays, especially with AI, there is very little insight that is actionable and much of the data interpretation ends up in reports or presentations that go nowhere. To effectively overcome this, we need to make the data actionable and drive conversations with clients that answer the question “Now what?” instead of “So what?”

Rob Key, the CEO at Converseon, examined the state of “data quality” and challenges in the social and media analysis industry, and explored multiple questions regarding data accuracy, including: what are these AI models that are going to govern our lives trained on? Rob shared that Converseon has been working to solve data accuracy problems and find “truth” in unstructured data since 2008, highlighting 11 challenges in achieving data accuracy and offering solutions.

Philip Manev, Account Manager at A Data Pro, shared data-backed insights on how his team’s communication measurement approach helped a diplomatic EU entity enhance its brand awareness and foster a favourable reputation in the MENA region. Philip talked about the tools and metrics used to deliver quantitative and qualitative insights to the client, supported by his team’s linguistic and cultural knowledge of the target markets. After a year of working with their client, Philip and his team helped them increase their influence and grow their following by 430% on Instagram and 80% on X, as well as secure a 10 times increase in reach overall.

Philip Manev on the stage

Gustav Block, a Data Solutions Architect at Ketchum Germany, spoke about “finding the needle in the haystack or the message in the noise.” His presentation provided an in-depth look at AI and ML approaches that are transforming data processing and how we derive meaningful insights, and covered: best practices for text classification, named entity recognition (NER), Logo Recognition, and machine learning training for random forest algorithm.

Kosta Petrov, Founder and Managing Director at P World, discussed reputational risks in a “permacrisis” or an era where crises have become perpetual and societal upheaval is the norm. He listed examples of critical world events that have taken place in the last decade and shared crisis scenarios that communication professionals have to have in mind when planning their crisis strategies so they can safeguard their reputations.

Another networking break took place before the GenZ panel featuring Iskren Lilov, Stefani Mitova, Maggie West, Nikola Matev, Emilia Laszlo, and Professor Ana ADI as the moderator, took the stage and spoke about what GenZ expects from their companies and senior colleagues. They spoke about the importance of fostering a work environment that respects them as young professionals and helps them learn and grow without undermining them. The panel covered the importance of flexible working hours and remote work options, and how young professionals, who enter the workplace with advanced digital social skills, bring unique talents to the table which requires employers to adapt their operations and focus on fostering continuous learning to help them grow into top professionals.

James Hewes, the CEO of PRCA, sat down with Johna and spoke about what the future holds for the world’s largest PR & Comms association. James described the last 30 years in the association space as a time of shift from industry-specific issues to matters that now have more global implications. He also discussed copyright issues that have recently emerged due to the immense technological changes we have experienced, namely the rise of AI.

Last, but certainly not least, Paul Spiers, the Founder of The New P&L Institute, spoke about the digital paradox: we have access to more information than ever, but algorithms feed us ‘more of the same’ and far less genuinely diverse inspiration to spark and feed our curiosity. Spiers fears that algorithms online are funneling us down through echo chambers, which is why he provided advice on how to individually and collectively ignite that sense of curiosity. He argued that the reason AI exists is because of the incredible amount of curiosity from thousands and thousands of people from all over the world. Therefore, it would be bitterly “AIronic” if AI, which is the result of curiosity, ends up being used to dilute our curiosity.

Networking breaks

What followed were the closing remarks before we drew the curtains on the 2024 AMEC Summit in Sofia. Some stayed for celebratory dinners and networking drinks while others grabbed their bags and made a beeline for the airport to catch a flight home or to their next destination.

If you stopped by A Data Pro’s booth and took photos make sure to claim your digital memories by filling in the form on our website.

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As the headline sponsor, we at A Data Pro could not be more proud to have supported an event of monumental importance such as the AMEC Global Summit.

But our story does not end here!

Stay tuned for more updates as the AMEC & A Data Pro story continues to flourish with the first-ever AMEC podcast!

If you are ready to take your brand to the next level and learn how you can optimise your communication measurement and brand reputation strategies, A Data Pro is here to assist you!

A Data Pro’s booth at the AMEC Summit