A little while ago, Google+ launched what it calls ‘Community pages, and it’s an avenue we have started looking into. Up to now we’ve been focused on developing our official European Commission page, sharing general EU news and information However, with the launch of Communities, we have the opportunity to create a sort of ‘thematic’ social media network within Google+, and be a lot more targeted and specific with the content we can share.
If you want to catch a glimpse of the future, TEDx events are a good place to start. The 2013 edition of TEDx Brussels on 28th October centred on the theme of “out of nothing” – can something be created “ex nihilo?” I had the pleasure to attend all the sessions, and it was a day of visionary digital ideas.
I only managed to attend one panel at this year’s Europcom. I really like this event. The topics are always very interesting and the participants’ level of expertise is always quite high. I noticed that comms2point0, a regular invitee to this event, made a very good and comprehensive summary of both day one and day two of the conference which I invite you to read.
The panel I attended was about the reputation of the EU institutions. Public criticism of the European institutions is on the rise. What is the impact of this on support for the European Union? What tools and strategies can be developed to fight the myths and clichés, and to set up a balanced dialogue with the public?
The debate was moderated by Rob Heirbaut and the speakers were Simona Guerra from the University of Leicester; Mélanie McCluskey from the Reputation Institute in Belgium; Sjerp van der Vaart from the European Parliament Information Office in Belgium; Sixtine Bouygues, Director for Strategy and Corporate Communication at the European Commission and Antonia Mochan from the Representation of the European Commission in the UK.
In particular, there were three lessons I took from the event.
Sixtine Bouygues, Director for Strategy and Corporate Communication in DG COMM, pointed out the importance of two main factors when dealing with reputation of institutions: “transparency and accountability.” While elaborating on this issue, she noted the effort made by the European Commission to rationalise its online presence and harmonise its visual identity.
At the same time, another challenge for EU institutions is to guarantee that all information is available, accessible and visible. “Being there and providing efficient information services to the citizens should be a priority for public institutions.” Rationalisation means better spending of public money and easier access for users and these are priorities in DG Communication’s work. Web rationalisation was also the topic of our last blog post written by Robert Andrecs, the head of digital communications in the European Commission.
— MRico (@marcoRecorder) October 17, 2013
Web rationalisation, corporate communication w/ fewer messages & common visual identity key elements of future EC communication #europcom
— Robert Andrecs (@RobertBXL_2011) October 17, 2013
Antonia Mochan didn’t need PowerPoint. She got right to the point during her talk and she discussed some very important topics related to targeting.
First of all, “if you don’t know who you are talking to then it won’t matter what you say.” Knowing who you target and how your target audience communicates is absolutely crucial in addressing institutional messages.
— MRico (@marcoRecorder) October 17, 2013
Secondly, it is important to focus on the “big picture.” The EU has over 500 million citizens and it is indeed challenging to address them all at once in all the domains that they could be interested in. Hence, it is important to be able to think out of the box or in this case, out of the “bubble.”
In all places of institutional importance at both national and international level, it is common to get caught up in professional bubbles, such as the famous “Eurobubble” or, as mentioned by Antonia, the Westminster bubble. No matter in which institutional bubble you find yourself, communicators have to think about the concern and the means of the people they are targeting, not the means and the topics used and discussed only in their bubbles.
— Waltzing Matilda (@EC_MatildaBlog) October 17, 2013
I hope next year’s edition will include some brilliant insights again and that I will be able to attend more panels.
Robert Andrecs is the head of digital communications in the European Commission
Web rationalisation is a Commission-wide programme to help shake up and improve how we communicate online to help the millions of people who visit our websites every month.
Our organisation, like all organisations, is looking at how best to harness the full potential of digital communication. As more and more people access our sites with mobiles and tablets, there is a growing demand for short, sharp information. Giving people what they want in the way they want it gives us a chance to serve our users better and to make the work of the Commission more open and transparent. Our ultimate aim is to make the EU’s online communication more relevant, coherent and cost-effective.
by Anne Seekings-Le Quément
Anne works for the digital communications team of the European Commission who have started a major project to clean-up the Commission’s websites.
The Dare conference, held last month in London, was the first of its kind, focusing on people skills for digital workers and approaching those skills from many different angles. It aims at becoming a yearly event.
People skills are vital when it comes to making changes in an organisation, as ultimately people have to change.
Digital skills abound in our team: from web editing to design, UX to content strategy. But how do you go about triggering and leading the transformation of the European Commission’s digital presence? How can you go from the current 400+ websites to a coherent, cost effective and user-centric platform? Vision, methodology and identifying governance options are of course essential.
People skills aim at getting the best out of the team, while helping it to mobilise the in-house human resources necessary to sustain this process. This post highlights some of the things I learnt from the many remarkable speakers at the conference.
It was a pleasure to meet Ourania from Greece, Joseph from Malta, György and Tünde from Hungary during the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels. They are the four lucky winners of the 2013 “Europe in My Region” photo competition. Ourania, Joseph, György and Tünde came to Brussels on 9 October to collect their prizes from Commissioner Johannes Hahn and to share the stories behind their winning photos.
The EU finances literally millions of projects across Europe. Most of these projects have all the ingredients to make a great story – interesting characters, an authentic local context and even a bit of drama! And yet many people are completely unaware that the EU is investing in the area they live, or places they visit when they travel around Europe.
In the Commission’s DG for Regional and Urban Policy, a lot of our communication efforts are geared towards collecting and spreading project examples. But the most powerful way of raising the visibility of projects, as well as engaging people in a debate about EU funding, is to let people tell their own stories.
How is it possible to distinguish and understand the values of European citizenship? How should civil society and institutions move in order to define new models for dialogue, values and services? How is it possible to make decisions, when faced with an ever wider and undifferentiated dissemination of content that contrast with the demand for correctness and transparency? These are just some of the topics discussed at the International Communication Summit hosted at the Bibliothèque Solvay in Brussels last 26 September.
The event, moderated by Barbara Roffi, Head of sector Content Production and Audio Visual Unit European Parliament, displayed quite an impressive list of speakers. In addition to famous writer Jung Chang, web strategist and CTO for Obama’s campaign Harper Reed and Chief Executive of Nesta Geoff Mulgan there were also contributions from Stephen Clark, Director of Relations with Citizens at the Directorate-General for Communication of the European parliament, Pierre Zémor Honorary President of EuroPCom, Ronny Patz, EU Communications & Policy Officer for Transparency International and Franco Pomilio ICS Chairman since 2010 and President of Pomilio Blumm.
First panellist, Jung Chang explained how her books are full of “truth, of real life, and that’s why they fascinate so many people around the world” because “transparency is at the core of my writing,” Read the full entry
I arrived at my current job – responsibility for social media at the European External Action Service (EEAS) – just over two years ago when the Arab Spring was in full flight and people in foreign policy circles were discussing the role social media was playing. These new technologies really focused people’s minds on how the internet could play a role in foreign and security policy. It was also an exciting time as the EEAS was new (formed on 1 January 2011) so it presented a lot of opportunities to embrace these tools – Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and more recently Storify and YouTube. Read the full entry
It was just before the summer when everything grinded to a halt. Suddenly it looked like no-one was tweeting anymore. “Latest tweets!” our websites proudly announced but the boxes were as empty as the streets in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie.
What had happened? The lifeline of an illustrious machine called the Twitter API 1.0 had been cut. After many years merrily pumping out tweets to “Latest tweets!” boxes, it was now as dead as a dodo. Read the full entry
A major project is underway in the European Commission to improve how we communicate online. A cross-departmental project team has been set up to work on reducing the number of websites the Commission has (currently 460) and to help our users find the information they are looking for. We will be posting more about this project in the coming weeks and months.
The team wanted to start from the basics so we worked on a number of principles of online communication. Read the full entry