Communications and External Relations for Central Banks

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Tuesday 11 September


Essentials of a central bank communication strategy
Led by the chairman Niels Bünemann, Principal Press Officer, European Central Bank

A global financial crisis was followed by an economic crisis which was followed by a sovereign debt crisis. Central banks are key players in the solution of these developments and central bank communication has become a vital element of policy making as well as expectations management, indeed of crisis resolution itself. This opening session will address the challenges facing central bank communications experts, and point to ways in which communication strategies can be adapted to today's post-crisis environment. It will set the stage for the remainder of the week, introducing key questions that will be addressed by the group in the following sessions.

How far can transparency go?
Mirela Roman, Director, Communication Department, National Bank of Romania

The days when central banks were reclusive, closed institutions administering interest rates to try to surprise markets are long gone. One of the main goals of a responsible central bank now is to have reliable communication guiding expectations in a rapidly changing environment. The past decade has seen central banks embrace talking about their policies and how they arrive at them. This session will discuss the optimal level of transparency for a central bank and whether it is necessary or feasible for central banks to function as open books, given the challenges faced, for example, with emergency lending to banks in the crisis.

Financial journalists' role and needs
Ralph Atkins, Capital Markets Editor, Financial Times

Central banks are seeking to normalise policies after the financial crisis. But the return to normal will neither be smooth nor speedy. The financial media are crucial intermediaries for central banks' communication departments seeking to explain the exit strategy in an uncertain world. This session will give a journalist's view of the strengths and weaknesses of the efforts undertaken by the central banks, drawing on recent examples from around the world.


Wednesday 12 September


Talking money: the public and banknotes
Olivier Radelet, Principal Project Manager for Banknote and Coins Communication, European Central Bank

Issuing banknotes is a core task for central banks. Ensuring the integrity of the banknotes requires efficient communication, which has to be directed at the general public as well as at specialised target groups such as cashiers, retailers and cash-in-transit companies. Unlike other areas of central bank communication, it has to employ a variety of techniques and media. This session will discuss the latest concepts and ideas for how to raise awareness of banknote security features and how to roll out a campaign that reaches an entire population.

Internal communication: let the inside take care of the outside
Alpana Killawala, Chief General Manager, Reserve Bank of India (invited)

As central banks are placed under an increasing degree of scrutiny, internal stakeholders such as employees and management, more than ever, need to perform the role of ambassadors for their institution. If they are to do this effectively, however, they must be fully informed about issues that do not directly relate to their day-to-day tasks. In organisations with workforces often spanning 3-4 generations, it is the responsibility of the bank's communications team to ensure that this occurs and that individuals are able to absorb information in accessible and message-aligned ways to convey a common story to external audiences. This session will cover how central banks can strategically plan their internal communications, build communications capability, and leverage internal communications channels and techniques such as intranets, social media and RSS information streams to optimise effectiveness in both messenger and stakeholder engagement.

Making the most of television
Steve Levinson, Economics Correspondent for the BBC, Channel 4 News, The Independent and the Press Association

Central banks typically have limited television coverage. But television allows central banks to transmit their message to a wide audience, much of which would otherwise be entirely ignorant of central banks. How can central banks increase coverage - and do they always want to? When central banks do succeed in provoking interest from television, how can they ensure that their image will be portrayed positively and that the general public will understand their actions? This session, led by an award-winning television journalist, will feature a practical workshop, putting delegates in front of the camera and reviewing performances.

Advantages and drawbacks of sound only
Marc Coleman, Economics Editor, Newstalk 106 and former Economist, European Central Bank

For many jurisdictions, central bank communication strategies engage the use of radio and sound-only mediums to connect with the general population. But what are the advantages and disadvantages? Can a central bank truly communicate "need to know" policy and bulletins effectively enough through radio? In this session, a leading journalist for both television and radio will outline cases for and against a central bank incorporating radio as part of their overall communication strategy. Discussion will then focus on how a central bank can take full advantage of the benefits radio has to offer.

When a central bank speaks: speeches and speechwriting
Katherine Macklem, Assistant Director, Speechwriting, Bank of Canada

In spite of the variety of media available today, the set-piece speech remains an important part of the senior banker's armoury. Speeches present an excellent opportunity for institutions to deliver their messages, and effectively communicate their core aims and limits. A well written speech can also pique interest and raise the speaker's profile. The risks, of course, are well known: the wrong impact or, perhaps worse, no impact. For this, much depends on how a speech is received and reported, but key is content and delivery. This session will discuss good practice in this important discipline.

Thursday 13 September


Accountability and transparency: how to talk to and with politicianss
Claus Tigges, President, Berlin Regional Office, Deutsche Bundesbank

Independence requires central banks and financial regulators to account for their actions to politicians, often in parliamentary committees or testimony. Central banks rely on political support for their legitimacy, especially in times of crisis. But relations with parliaments and politicians can suffer badly if communication is inappropriate or insensitive. How in fact can such relations best be managed? This session will look at how to maintain a constructive dialogue with politicians under an environment of increased bank supervision.

How markets view central bank communications?
Paul Mortimer-Lee, Global Head, Market Economics, BNP Paribas (invited)

In the digital age, the prevalence of real-time economic news has led markets to expect up-to-the minute and detailed information on central bank policy. This session will look at how the press office can best - and realistically - meet and manage these expectations. It will also address the issue of whether central banks should comment on the macroeconomic impact of asset prices and government policy.

Communication in a crisis and beyond: interactive workshop
Alexandra Durnford, Director, Tim Johnson, Chief Operating Officer, Regester Larkin and Niels Bünemann

What a central bank says - or doesn't say in times of crisis will have a significant impact on markets and its reputation more broadly. The most challenging part of crisis communication is reacting - with the right response - quickly. It takes only one poorly handled public relations crisis to ruin an organisation's reputation and credibility. The financial crisis illustrated that public awareness and understanding are critical in times of crisis. This practical session will allow delegates to gain hands-on experience in fire-fighting. Participants will be split into teams, given crisis scenarios and asked to work out a strategy for responding. The session leader will then critique the responses, assisting delegates to make critical, strategic and timely crisis management decisions.

Communication on macroprudential policies: work in progress
Tim Ng, Senior Economist, Monetary and Economics Department, Bank for International Settlements (invited)

Macroprudential policy is an accepted part of central bank mandates. As a result, central bankers must develop effective communication strategies for macroprudential policy. The monetary policy experience is instructive. Over the past two decades, central banks have strived to ensure that monetary policy is understood by the public. They typically emphasise a commitment to price stability, thoroughly explain their policy conduct, and account for any material deviations from targets. Macroprudential policymakers need similarly to articulate their strategies clearly and account for their decisions and performance. This session will look at the communications challenges at hand in this new policy area, and explore the lessons available from the experience of communicating monetary policy.

Friday 14 September


How should central banks use social media?
Jon Worth, EU analyst and blogger, Founder of

Social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are today a typical part of daily workflow. Blogs have become an intrinsic part of everyday political communication. How are these technologies best used by central banks? This session will highlight the best - both positive and negative - examples of social media from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to demonstrate how central banks can most effectively use the time and knowledge of communications staff to interact with this fast-developing field. The starting point is that central banks cannot afford not to use social media, but that not all tools and technologies are perfect for all communications environments. The session will focus on the external communications benefits of social media, both as a means to reach the general public as well as multipliers such as journalists and researchers.

From websites to web presence - how to manage an evolving web communications landscape

Timo Laurmaa, Head of Web Communications, Bank for International Settlements

A website is, for most of the world, a central bank's public face. The quality and usability of a website will affect the public's perception of an institution, and it must therefore be of the highest order. Recent developments in the use of the internet by official-sector agencies and others have raised the bar considerably. Central banks and regulatory authorities need to think carefully about how to meet these higher expectations. In this session, Timo Laurmaa will discuss the ingredients required to develop a world-class web presence and discussion will focus on how delegates can spur their respective organisations to maintain a state-of-the-art site that is used and understood by a broad range of users.

Lessons and action points
Led by the chairman, Niels Bünemann
The course concludes with a discussion led by the chairman drawing together the days' discussions to identify the practical solutions to communications challenges. In revisiting the themes, he will encourage the group to formulate action plans to take back to their institutions.