Protocol, Communication and Security – A balanced approach is needed

José Paulo Lucena

Protocol Expert

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary.

It fulfills the same function as the pain in the human body.

It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. “

Winston Churchill


Protocol, Communication and Security the three pillars of a good ceremony or event. We would like to go further into the meaning of this sentence. Some authors consider that these three areas are the pillars of a good ceremony or the same times they refer to them as the vertices of a triangle. I deeply believe that’s a question of mind set. Both approaches are, probably right.

So, protocol, for the aim of this paper should be seen as the rules, which are applied to a certain ceremony or event. Communication is the mechanism or tool used by an organization to advertise and communicate with its target public, or, within the remit of a ceremony or an event, with its guests. Finally, security, which should be seen as a broad term that includes both dimensions as safety and security.

As a protocol practitioner I do feel comfortable, based on my experience, to say that if one of this pillars or vertices fail or do not exist the success of the ceremony or event is deeply hampered. Having said that, the ceremony or event success rellies a lot on the good coordination amid these aforementioned areas.

It is not easy to conduct a good coordination, but it is mandatory if we want to avoid the chaos. When these three areas are solely integrated within the organization responsible for the ceremony or event, tendency, everything should be easier to coordinate. However, everyone wants to have their spot time. In these circumstances it is highly recommended to give the full coordination role to a high-level management responsible. Even, if it is not an expert.

Normally, within an organization, Protocol, Communication and Safety, are departments that exists and are well structured. The Security portion, normally, depends a lot on the organization’s policy, as well as, it is closely related with state and governmental entities.

Therefore, if you are part of a public organization, should be easier to get a good coordination level. If you are part of a private organization and you have to deal with security, namely state security, you have to have a good coordination with the security entities.

As we can see from the above paragraphs we need to have a good and solid inter-relationship between the three areas of concern. As we mentioned, when they are integrated within the organization structure it is easier to get everyone playing the same sheet of music. For the other hand, if one of these pillars is out of the organization structure it is likely to have harder coordination.

Assuming all stakeholders have the same goal, a successful event or ceremony, they probably will manage to give room for having a full coordination and to focus on the ceremony or event triumph.

Having said the aforementioned ideas and thoughts I strongly believe, based on my experience, and of course, my failures and achievements and consequent lessons identified and learned that the key for success is to have a very good set of pre-meetings and negations.

Every stakeholder has a very important role to play before, during and after a ceremony or event. That’s why normally they all will do whatever they need to do for having a successful performance.

Nevertheless, because it is human to try having the most relevant and import role, they will, individually, do their best for having their area of responsibility under the spot. That’s why we strongly suggest to have a coordination manger from a high level to avoid that one department has more grip than another.

Regarding Protocol it is well known that we consider as principles the following two sayings: “Protocol is not about us (experts) is about the others (guests)”[1] and “Protocol is 10 % of rules and 90 % of judgement”[2]. In a very popular way we could say that communication exists to support the organization strategy. To address to the overall public what is the main message to be passed in order to create a very good perception and to influence in a very positive way the public target. Security, in a very broad approach, is the actions taken by the organization to minimize the risks of having a failure.

Although I am a protocol expert I can say that if we put our focus on the ceremony or event success it is mandatory for us to be flexible and be available to listen the others in order to maximize the synergies, which can be met by having these three domains all together working for the same goal.

There is a perception among those who have the responsibility to organize ceremonies and events that “protocol practitioners are more difficult to negotiate with than terrorists”. Personally, I deeply believe this saying is no longer valid and Protocol more than ever is more tolerant and flexible regarding communication demands and security.

First, because protocol can be broken and security never. As well as, the growing power of images, dictates that sometimes we need to adapt the layout of a ceremony or event to create a more powerful image and therefore communicate in a better way the message that we pretend to pass.

As a conclusion I would say that the actions of all stakeholders are paramount for the success of the event or ceremony, as well as, more than ever, sometimes protocol most give room for the others domains achieve in a better way their goals.


[1] Ines Pires – CEO of the ISPD

[1] Unknown

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