I got home last night from my three day trip to Western Denmark where my Strategic Communication Core Course visited the city of Arhus, the second largest city in Denmark and then the city of Odense, the home town of Hans Christian Andersen. They call it a study tour because they really try to mix the “study” with elements of “touring,” blending company site visits with walking tours and beer tasting. I must admit I was a bit skeptical at first. We didn’t have a ton of information pre-departure and did not know what to expect, but as I am quickly coming to realize there is nothing that DIS does poorly. This trip was incredible. It enabled us to get to know one another as a class, speak to some insanely intelligent and intriguing professionals, and see two cities in Denmark we may not have prioritized before.
Our first stop was Jyllands-Posten, one of the few major newspaper publications in Denmark. A few years back this newspaper published a controversial series of drawings of Muhammed. After the publishing, riots and protesting broke out in Denmark and in the Middle East regarding the decision to publish such culturally sensitive images. I’m sure some of you back home can remember the news coverage of it in America, but it’s still a huge controversy in Denmark causing a divide in the nation. While some feel that it was a clear practice of freedom of speech, others challenge the editors cultural sensitivity. We were able to question the head of the Communication and Marketing department of the Newspaper about how you handle this sort of publicity, and the continuously blurry line between freedom of speech and cultural sensitivity.
We then moved on to a company called DesignIt, a start up that essentially designs ANYTHING. From making a bottle seem “cool” to developing a program for an Audi showroom in London that would allow people to virtually experience their inventory, they create teams to tackle any company’s design woes. The office had large post-it notes everywhere constantly in brainstorm and creative hipster types roaming the halls. We sat for an hour talking to an account manager about the difficulties they have marketing and branding such a large scope of work while they continue to seek to grow.
The following morning we went a company called Danske Commodities. This was also a start-up in the process of growing exponentially. They are an energy trading company which obviously goes WAY over my head but from what I could understand it seems that a pretty young guy figured out that he could expedite the energy trading process so that energy can be traded minutes before its being used. At this point I was scratching my head at the concept of trading energy—it’s like a trading floor on Wall Street but with energy. Mind blowing. Our speaker, however, was the head of corporate communication at the company. He gave us some invaluable advice about managing the public opinion of a start up on the rise. You want to promote but not over promote, to know your customer and audience, and to prioritize. But perhaps the most simple yet compelling thing he advised was about self value. “Know your worth. Know where you’re valuable and make that known because when you are not making money for a company it’s easy to be undervalued. Don’t let yourself fall victim to this sort of generalization.” A pretty smart guy, if you ask me.
Following Danske Commodities, we stopped at Aros Art Museum. I’ll give you all a break from my rambling with some photos, but the museum was dark and bright all at once. The concept was as you move up the floors, your moving from Hell to Heaven. It made for a rather dynamic experience.
We then boarded the bus and departed for Odense which boasts it personal connection with Hans Christian Andersen. For my less literary inspired friends, Hans Christian Andersen is the king of fairytales. A vast majority of the fairytales we heard as kids are variations of his very work, and the town of Odense prides themselves on the preservation of this influential man’s hometown. Upon arrival, I immediately felt as though time had frozen. With statues commemorating his stories and tiny colorful houses lining cobblestone streets, I couldn’t help but imagine myself in a pop-up story book. It was quaint and beautiful, magical in the most simple of ways. I couldn’t stop smiling. He was a man that loved stories and this city felt as though it came out of a story, a perfect kind of reflection.
Finally, our last stop was a microbrewery called Midtfuns Brughus. We got a tour of the brewery, learned about the process of making beer, and got to try nine different kinds ranging from light to dark brews. The owner of the brewery was an American who has now lived in Denmark for 21 years so he shared tons of stories about culture shock and adjustments coming from America to Denmark while we all tasted some delicious craft beer.
There I am grabbing a beer straight from the holding tank!
It was the perfect end to a fabulous trip and has only made my excitement to go to London with the same class stronger. I apologize for the length of this post. So much to share!
Until next time friends.