Chicken Filet for EU Citizens? - Communication Challenges for the European Union

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Communication Challenges of the EU: New Rules of Political Marketing and the Power of Relevant Messages

Communication Challenges of the EU: New Rules of Political Marketing and the Power of Relevant Messages

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  • 1. Written by András Baneth /EU Affairs & Online Communications Professional Written by András Baneth, EU Affairs & Online Communications Professional www.baneth.eu www.baneth.euSharing and re-publishing for non-commercial purposes is allowed and encouraged as long as the source is acknowledged. Brussels, May 2011 Brussels, 2011
  • 2. Communication Challenges of the EU: New Rules of Political Marketing and the Power of Relevant MessagesImage: photo used in the 2009 European Parliament election campaign to increase voter turnout (it tries to gauge citizens’opinion on the acceptable level of product labelling… in the middle of the financial crisis)Pedro is a 37 year old Portuguese high school teacher from Porto with some interest in historyand politics. He likes surfing on the internet, sometimes reads the local newspaper and enjoystravelling with his family. When communicating Europe to citizens, the core question is: whywould people like Pedro care about what we want to convey? How can we offer relevant, personaland engaging messages that will raise citizens’ awareness?Citizens have always felt that EU institutions are “too distant”, too complex and impossible toapproach. The lack of understanding about what the EU does for its citizens leads to shrinkingpolitical support, public approval and thus to fading legitimacy. Hence, support for Europeanintegration weakens. This is no longer just a fear but a reality: decreasing support for the EU isunderlined in the latest Eurobarometer polls. But why do we lose the public’s political supportand how can we reverse the process?In a period of economic crisis, political and social tensions are on the rise. Europe has becomemore inward looking and defensive. Citizens look for help from the ones they trust the most,those who are closest to them and know most about their personal challenges: national and localgovernments. Even though the EU provides large-scale assistance and dozens of opportunities,these are difficult to identify and attribute to the EU. While action must go hand in hand with com-munication, despite all good efforts, the EU still has tremendous difficulties in “telling a compel-ling story”. Nine out of ten people would most likely not be able to name 3 achievements of theEuropean Union. Non- and miscommunication is still partially responsible for a fading support.But why cannot we get our messages through? 2
  • 3. In an era of “over-communication”, citizens will only listen to what they choose to hear: the audi-ence is in control. They will switch TV channels, close websites, refuse to click a video link orignore a PR-event if the content doesn’t “talk” to them by being personally relevant (financially,educationally, practically advantageous, interesting, entertaining or all of these together). Colour-ful but general brochures, large catch-all public events, “corporate” videos on the EUTube chan-nel, a flood of technical information on the Commission’s website or “talking head” interviews onthe EuroparlTV online channel are incapable of gathering significant interest. But why do thesecommunication efforts fail to work?Because these profound changes in the information consumption attitudes have not been re-flected in the EU’s communication. Although the tools used by the Commission are 21st centuryin their technology, they are still 20th century in their content: mostly uninteresting, top-down,one-size-fits-all messages without a micro-targeted personal appeal. Yet this can be fixed: whenwe present the right message to the right target group in the right format, communicationdoes build political support. The positive results of the 2nd Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treatyare also attributable to better communication. Decreasing roaming charges? Low-budget flightsas a result of the Open Skies Agreement? Climate change affecting water pollution of Europeanbeaches? All successful communication efforts have one thing in common: citizens do listen toconcrete, interesting, easily understandable, personal and relevant “stories”.The EU must pick the right message, present it in the right style to the right audience. Each andevery time, for each and every message. Improved internal communication is a precondition tomake this a success: Commission and other staff must be engaged to spread the message whyour activities are needed and useful, highlighting online, offline and in everyday situations theadded value the EU and its staff is working for on a daily basis.Based on the above, this paper outlines the fundamental ways to address six key communica-tion challenges to improve our efforts…and make people like Pedro care more: 3
  • 4. WHY It is unclear what the underlying finalité of the communication is (legitimacy? satisfac- tion? turnout?), what core messages the EU would like to convey and exactly which perceptions it wants to trigger in the audience, the European and global citizens.WHO Messages sent out or presented to an overly generic, untargeted audience such as a brochure for “women” or a website aimed at whoever comes online will never work unless carefully detailed target personas are created. Equally important to identify our assets: who communicates?WHERE A radically increased use of online tools and the interactivity that online social platforms offer must be endorsed, along with a re-think of the current media channels we use. Online communication is slowly but surely dominating; this must be fully exploited.WHAT Mixed messages, bureaucratic language and uninteresting information of otherwise exciting topics must be converted into compelling “stories” (e.g. see the “EU Beneficia- tor” below). The key is to only pass information that is relevant, wanted and triggers interaction.HOW Increased efforts must be made to improve citizens’ perceptions: EU website branding, usability and control group testing, easy-to-understand messages, visual guidelines and creative methods must be endorsed for both external audiences and EU staff.WHICH Which benchmarks should we use to describe “successful” efforts? Are we aiming at a visitor count, a turnout rate, a satisfaction level, an approval rating or other? Setting clear expectations and constant auditing must be the rule to ensure ongoing improve- ment.Read on to see the specific ideas about re-inventing EU communications!Re-inventing EU communicationEU communication needs a serious re-alignment to meet the realities of the 21st century audi-ences. Currently, as described earlier, top-down, vaguely targeted and hard-to-digest messagesare used, yielding decreasing voter turnout along with a fading popular support for EU institutionsand EU integration in general. Save for exceptions, several flaws beg to be fixed.Let’s see in detail all key issues: why, who, where, what, which and how? 4
  • 5. WHY – Why we need EU communication• However obvious this question may seem, the “finalité” that EU communication aims at must be clearly defined: now it seems to be missing and causing serious lack of orientation;• There are altogether 5 main reasons why robust communication efforts are needed: legiti- macy, political marketing, client satisfaction, information and organisational culture. Let’s see each of these in detail;• Legitimacy – have popular support for the EU integration policy (democratic support)Public support for and approval of EU integration and the work of the institutions is crucial fortheir legitimacy;With legitimacy, institutions can advance deeper integration, knowing that in fundamental ques-tions, political support is guaranteed in the EU Member States.• Political marketing – the goal is to improve approval ratings (opinions):Outbound political marketing efforts (newspaper orbanner ads, TV spots etc.) to inform target groupsof the concrete, tangible results the EU has pro-duced for each, specifically defined segment andimprove their awareness thereof;Explain and gain support/approval for issues suchas why EU institutions exist and why their operationis vital to achieving the concrete political aims;Trigger interest in European issues and enhancedebate on policy issues: if there is enough interest to discuss matters, then participants can beconvinced to support them.• Client satisfaction – improve stakeholders’ satisfaction levels and approval ratings (marketing):Improve citizens’, businesses’, politicians’, 3rd country decision makers’ satisfaction level re-garding concrete interactions with EU institutions (job candidates, tender applicants, lobbyists,policy makers’ and citizens’ information requests etc. – see details below on benchmarks andauditing).• Information – improve access to and spread of relevant information (knowledge):Inbound approach: be there when stakeholders are searching for information (phone, online, infooffices etc.), provide and make available targeted, easy-to-use, easy-to-find and easy-to-under-stand information to all specific target segments; 5
  • 6. Motto: the right information to the right person at the right time in the right format at the right levelof simplicity (see specific ideas below);Outbound approach: providing practical, on-demand information by explaining how EU institutionswork, easy-to-use info on tendering and application procedures, airline passenger rights or anyother issue;How can each target group get in touch with the relevant officials, be very clear about where canthey find more information (EU-level, national-level, 3rd countries etc.).• Organisational culture – EU staff’s high satisfaction and low turnover (internal communication):Inform and assist EU officials, employees better; improve existing corporate culture by clearlyconveying work values and maintain staff’s commitment to EU integration;Trigger officials’ participation in cross-organizational policy making, internal debates on initiatives,staff networking, ensure that employees’ views are being heard so buy-in can increase;Offer training and development programs that engage staff and explain their relevance to improvestaff satisfaction;Have staff as ‘evangelists’ to spread EU values and messages (see below).WHO – Who communicates and to whom?• Style, tone and content of each message must clearly depend on the specific target group and the medium used: no more generic messages segmented only for “women”, “young people”, “small businesses” or even to “Germans”, “Member States”, “EU staff” etc. be- cause this is completely ineffective as it’s not concrete enough;• Meticulously detailed “personas” should be established for both online and offline commu- nication purposes: fictional but typical and descriptive characters that represent archetypes (profession/industry/government, Member State/third country national, language knowledge, level of interest/knowledge of EU affairs, age group/demographics, preferred communication channel, website/newspaper/media habits etc.) of those we wish to communicate with and connect to.Who communicates: MEPs, Commissioners, EU staff, citizens• Senior officials, MEPs and EU Commissioners:Ø Consistent branding and marketing collaterals must be created, the inter-institutional style guide must be expanded and updated to take account of technology changes and enlarged scope of branding efforts;Ø Create a formal network of the 27 Commissioners’ speechwriters to coordinate key mes- sages, word usage and brand communication. 6
  • 7. EU staff: EU officials in the Commissionand EP are the best possible assets tohelp in ‘spreading the word’, they mustbe encouraged to actively communicatewith the outside world regarding theirjobs, the core messages, provide helpfulinformation using online tools.The ‘Back to school’ initiative must beavailable and extended to all EU staffworking in any location: each official cango back to his or her own country on a voluntary basis once each year for a 3 day trip, accom-modation and daily allowance paid, with the obligation to give at least three or four one-hourpresentations to high-school and university students about their job, the EU and how it is to liveabroad etc. A quick calculation: approximately there are 30,000 EU staff, of whom 25,000 workin Brussels or in the EU27. Expect 18% of them to be interested in the project, meaning 4500 of-ficials. The overall cost per official is roughly 1200 €, that is 5.4 million €, which is less than 2%of the EU’s annual communications budget. Such first-hand experience can significantly changeyoung European’s career perspectives and views on Europe.The EU’s European and global network of representations and delegations must be better used tolocalize messages and liaise with local stakeholders.Non-EU communicatorsØ Encourage and provide tools (fact sheets, pro/con arguments, easily accessible information) for journalists, bloggers, reporters, academics, professional and non-professional citizens who deal with EU affairs in any way;Ø Professional companies: outsourced communication projects must be under strict bench- marks and post-event auditing; a clear set of operational and branding guidelines must be set out.Reconsider what role EU representations in Member States should haveØ Are they a media contact point to convey message towards Brussels, or on the contrary, they are the antenna to convey messages towards local audiences? Are they gathering political intelligence? What is their main emphasis? How can it be improved?Ø What is their role in EU funds, tenders and the communication aspects of these tenders’ tan- gible results? Are they involved in organising (managing, outsourcing) local PR-events?Ø Are these events properly measured and audited according to pre-established benchmarks (turnout, participant satisfaction, relevance)? 7
  • 8. Ø The representations’ valuable knowledge of the local political atmosphere must be better used to properly target messagesØ Most local audiences go directly online to find information from central sources, thus side- stepping the representations – online contents available in local languages must be easily available.Who are the addresseesSample ‘personas’ must be createdIvona [private EU citizen], 24 year-old Slovenian university student: stronginterest in politics, middle-income urban family, speaks two foreign languag-es, loves YouTube videos, uses email to communicate with friends and usesinstant messaging, reads online tabloid magazines in Slovenian; when doingacademic research, mainly uses university library resources and Google; Kana [foreign government official], 32 year-old Japanese diplomat, deals with EU trade and customs relations, needs official positions on a weekly basis, basic understanding of EU affairs, speaks English and French as foreign lan- guage, follows European politics for some time in The Economist, avid online user;Wang [non-EU business owner], Mobile Asia Ltd.’s manager, 51 year-oldTaiwanese businessman, has a mobile phone export business to Europe,interested in customs issues, travel arrangements, no interest in politics,searches online and contacts the local EU delegation; Greg [local government official], 43 year-old civil servant of Komarno city council (Slovakia) in charge of EU tenders for employment projects, needs information on application procedure, sometimes uses internet but not very comfortable with complicated forms and websites, prefers calling national authorities on the phone, slightly sceptical about the EU but knows it can gives a lot of funds, speaks a bit of Spanish but essentially communicates in Slovak;Ewa [EU senior citizen], a 68-year old Polish widow in the outskirts of Kra-kow, pensioner with grandchildren, not really interested in politics or EU af-fairs though she does vote at every election, lives on her 250 € monthlypension, watches TV but listens to radio more, speaks no foreign languages,her main concern is to have a better future for her grandkids; 8
  • 9. Jorge [EU official], 47-year old Spanish official working in the European Commission’s DG Information Society in Luxembourg, interested in Euro- pean affairs but does not like reading a lot of political news outside his work obligations, checks Intracomm a few times a week, sometimes reads the weekly ‘Commission en Direct’, would like know colleagues from Brussels with whom he exchanges dozens of emails a day but has never met them.An in-depth audit must be carried out of the target audience’s needs• Benchmarks, based on the ideas above, must be established regarding the goals of the EU communication (opinion, information, marketing and hard benchmarks)• A thorough audit must be carried out for each persona-group, what do they think of the EU communication efforts, what frustrations did they have when searching for EU information or interacting with EU institutions, what are their perceptions at this moment of the EU as a project, of the EU institutions as such?Who are NOT addressees• Some audience segments may not need to be actively addressed at all, only passively if they look for information! This is especially true for most 3rd country audiences.• It is important to underline that the scope of communication efforts must be limited to EU affairs, EU-level institutions and EU policies: for example, marketing “Europe” as a travel destination or communicating issues related to Member States’ competencies must be kept outside our communication efforts – this delimitation must be thoroughly examined.WHERE – Where does communication take place?• Radically improve website designs and usability from the personas’ perspective (micro- targeting, accessibility, a fundamental change in the approach regarding what the websites are for: forget PDF files that serve as information, adapt sites for the online reader, present information in a much better structured way etc.);• Ensure a much higher consistency among Commission DGs’ websites (currently each DG, each Commissioner has their own site in 27 different format and style, to varying levels of updates, useful information);• Ensure cross-institutional links and access to basic EU information;• Use online tools such as forums, video conferencing, live interactive events to connect with citizens and EU staff, provide technical and political briefings;• Streamline and collect on a central page all e-mail newsletter sign-up options, EU newslet- ters and social media postings, including tender alerts, EU exams, policy updates and other 9
  • 10. information which is currently un-branded, disorganised and uncoordinated; outgoing e- mails must be centrally branded and cross-referenced with each other;• Mass media: as most audiences watch much less TV and read less newspapers, their im- portance should not be overestimated; however, specialist press and tabloids both require a careful approach;• Non-media marketing: bulletin ads, outdoor banners, EU project signposts, info brochures, EU public events are only useful to a limited extent as these are almost impossible to micro- target to specific audiences’ needs and interests.WHAT – What is the core message and what are the concrete ones?Core message• Some values and ideas must always be implied but not directly specified in every message – yet given their high level of abstraction, these can never be the message itself or else concreteness and audience attention is wasted;Implied core messages• EU integration has been one of the world’s most successful economic and political projects to foster peace; the EU has created an unprecedented level of prosperity on the continent in the past 50 years;• The EU is open, democratic, receptive of business, investments, immigration and tourism;• The EU is a political cooperation partner that global powers can count on and need to coordinate with on global issues such as climate change or the fight against poverty;• The EU institutions’ image as a professional international organisation is essential to communicate internally and externally core values, ethics, a strong team spirit and collegiality.How EU institutions work• Currently there is no official EU online video, speech or multimedia material that presents how EU institutions work, what they do, why they exist, only long, boring, technical descrip- tions that only a fraction of readers actually understand;• This must be urgently remedied by creating compelling and easy-to-understand multimedia materials that can be freely used by any education facility around the world, must be added to YouTube etc.; 10
  • 11. • The trend of increasing the level of transparency must be continued, i.e. phone books, deci- sion-making procedures, non-classified documents must be published online to make sure that all stakeholders can easily find the right official or document etc.).Micro-targeted, relevant messages – a few examples• At European airports, EU posters are currently shown about the 40 years of customs union. While this is a great achievement, ordinary passengers don’t know what this means in prac- tice. On the other hand, a poster about low-cost airlines cheap tickets being made possible by the EU’s single market and open skies agreements can immediately inform people of a concrete EU achievement;• In shopping centres, a campaign about the EU’s food safety laws and standards can inform citizens that substandard quality is filtered out and a rapid alert system is in place to improve their quality of life;• All projects (infrastructure, transport, administrative etc.) funded by at least 30% of EU mon- ey must clearly indicate an EU logo and must mention the fact of EU co-financing;• Mobile phone roaming fees, which are now communicated in SMS upon change of network, should mention that the price caps are due to EU initiatives.Address technophiles and opinion-formers• Offering online interactive “games” on Facebook and other social media sites and create free iPhone applications dealing with EU affairs in a fun way, thus familiarising them with the core messages, spreading the ideas on channels that they use;• Encourage staff to react to EU-critical and EU-analytical blog posts and write blogs not just by Commissioners but by EU officials;• Encourage online feedback to EU initiatives in forums, endorse any form of interactive online content on the Europa website and elsewhere;• “The EU Beneficiator”: on the Europa website, create an interactive tool where visitors can anonymously provide some basic data (age, location, profession, main interest) and the system immediately shows 10 specific, personally relevant benefits that the EU has given them;• The Europa website’s current myth-buster link (http://ec.europa.eu/budget/library/pub- lications/financial_pub/pub_eu_spending_en.pdf) is an excellent initiative which must be largely extended to all major policies. 11
  • 12. WHICH – Which benchmarks are used to measure success and improve results?• While in the private sector indicators such as annual profit or market share serve as clear benchmarks, public sector (governmental) organisations cannot have similar measures of success or failure. However, this doesn’t mean performance auditing wouldn’t be possible: see ideas below;• In the field of communication, this is an uphill battle: no 100% positive outcome is ever really possible. However, new benchmarks must be established and existing ones must be greatly improved as per these 3 segments:Opinion aspect – opinion polls (Eurobarometer), examples:• At least 20% of EU27 adults should have a basic understanding of the European institutions’ role;• At least 25% of citizens should be able to list 3 benefits that EU integration has given them;• Trust in the European institutions should be at least as high as e.g. the EU27’s average trust in their respective constitutional courts;• Similar benchmarks must be established regarding the opinion of non-EU political actors (e.g. government officials dealing with European matters in 3rd countries); business deci- sion-makers (e.g. see the personas above) and those citizens who represent a target group by each global region; these must be thoroughly measured and improved.Client satisfaction aspect, examples:• All clients (target groups) that had any phone, e-mail, personal or other interaction with the European Commission or European Parliament must be continuously surveyed and asked to rate their satisfaction level, provide feedback etc.;• At least 50% of those surveyed must say their impressions were “Very good” or “Good” regarding the services or information they received.Fact-based benchmarks, examples:• Number of website visitors per institution/DG/video;• Number of email inquiries and response time;• Number of participants at EU-sponsored events and their level of satisfaction or % of positive feedback;• Number of applicants to EU competitions compared to the desired pool of candidates;• European Parliament election turnout rates etc. 12
  • 13. • Messages aimed at citizens must be extremely easy to understand, loaded with specific examples, non-jargon explanations; when online, must be presented in a visually compelling manner suitable for web delivery;HOW – How should the EU communicate?• Example of a timely and in-depth content which is stillUnderlying principles ofbe much improved if adapted better for online delivery: http://ec.europa. hard to read: could EU corporate communication eu/commission_barroso/president/focus/credit_crunch/index_en.htm content not updated• since October 2008; hard-to-readbe extremely easy topoints for quick visual scan of main Messages aimed at citizens must tiny font; no bullet messages (online users specific examples, non-jargon details, there are only clickable PDFs understand, loaded with don’t read long texts!); to find instead of hyperlinks online, must be presented in aembedded but streamed via desktop explanations; when for static pages; videos are not Media Player etc. which greatly decreases the number of viewers etc.; visually compelling manner suitable for web delivery;• The ‘Citizens’timely and in-depth content which is still direction but still largely fails its Example of a Summary’ is a good step towards this mission: requires extensive search to find it online, language and layout sometimes doesn’t hard to read: could be much improved if adapted better for online delivery: http://ec.europa. reach the required level of sophistication – just give one citizens’ summary to not updated eu/commission_barroso/president/focus/credit_crunch/index_en.htm content your family members and test how much they understand; bullet points for quick visual scan of main since October 2008; hard-to-read tiny font; no messages (online users don’t read long texts!); to find details, there are only clickable PDFs• Control group tests and quality improvements must beembeddedpress releases,via desktop instead of hyperlinks for static pages; videos are not ongoing: but streamed brochures, print content,etc. which greatly decreases the number of by control group testing and in- Media Player e-mail communication must be audited viewers etc.; depth interviews with addressees (e.g. “How would you summarise this text?”, “Did you• understand each expression used there?” etc.). The ‘Citizens’ Summary’ is a good step towards this direction but still largely fails its mission: requires extensive search to find it online, language and layout sometimes doesn’tThe format the required level compelling and user-friendly citizens’ summary to your family reach must be visually of sophistication – just give one members and test how much they understand;• As done for press releases already, use journalistic best practice for online articles and• other marketing collateral: have improvements must be ongoing: press releases, brochures, Control group tests and quality a lead sentence, use bullet points, minimise long texts, offer information in e-mail communication must be audited by controlmore can go to and in- print content, a gradual way (pointing those who wish to know group testing further sources); always with addresseesgroup (persona) youyou summarise this text?”, “Did you depth interviews know the target (e.g. “How would are aiming at; understand each expression used there?” etc.).• Speeches by senior personnel or Commissioners: improve use of corporate brandedThe format musttemplates, logos, minimise bullet points and use images (see “Presentation Zen” PowerPoint be visually compelling and user-friendly principles), tell a story, give examples, make it short;• As done for press releases already, use journalistic best practice for online articles and• PDFs marketing collateral:for technical sentence, use bullet points, minimise long texts, offer other must only be used have a lead information or legal texts that user needs to print or fill out; information in a gradual way (pointing those who wish to know more can go to further sources); always know the target group (persona) you are aiming at;• Each DG’s and Service’s website and section must be re-audited and in most cases,• re-designed from the perspective or target audiences and the above personas in mind: Speeches by senior personnel of Commissioners: improve use of corporate branded PowerPoint templates, logos, minimise bullet points and use images (see “Presentation Zen”• The websites are all done from the institutions’ perspective, and not from the user principles), tell a story, give examples, make it short; personas’ perspective!• PDFs must only be used for technical information or legal texts that user needs to print or 13 fill out;• Each DG’s and Service’s website and section must be re-audited and in most cases, re-designed from the perspective of target audiences and the above personas in mind:• The websites are all done from the institutions’ perspective, and not from the user personas’ perspective! 13
  • 14. Ø Example 1: DG Transport’s main landing page should show its main achievements in the transport area, but right now the English version of it shows some news in French (!), a video speech in Italian, focuses on 8 different programmes without any consideration of who the visitor may be (a European passenger who got stuck in an airport? A cargo driver who was held up at the Russian border? A policy-maker in Estonia?)Ø Example 2: EPSO’s new website has made a small step in the right direction, but information is still extremely hard to find, there is no functioning search option, the menus are hard to navigate, doesn’t offer newsletter or RSS updates for candidates etc.;Ø Create a central webpage for all EU newsletters (currently there are hundreds of such news- letter scattered all over the europa.eu site) and RSS feeds where target groups (journalists, experts, etc.) can sign up to receive information (EU news segmented by DG or geographic region, tender alerts, EU career opportunities, latest EU publications, legislative alerts) all in one place;• The overall keyword is ‘relevance’: concrete information, targeted to the right group or per- sons who will find it relevant to their needs (see personas example above).Unified messages and brand image must be radically improved• See the above comment on using Commission-wide or EP-wide presentation templates and letterheads (business cards etc.) with customized elements for each DG, also each DG’s logo style should be done according to basic uniform design guidelines, posters and outdoor PR materials’ looks should be harmonised, including specific projects or programmes (Eras- mus program logo, Customs Union 40 years anniversary logo, Ecolabel logo etc.);• Brochures and electronic newsletters that citizens can sign up for must have a common underlying template design;• Establish (as speaking points, presentation materials etc.) for all Cabinets of the Commis- sion some core political messages, key facts and achievements that their staff and the Commissioners can use at their public speaking events easily accessible from a common repository;• Improve political coordination among key senior staff, spokespeople and Commissioners regarding line to take;• At the same time, diversity must be embraced: the institutions must become far more accessible and transparent: staff blogging, Facebook activity, open social communications must be embraced and supported, guide- lines must be established to support such activities instead of limiting open speech, as is the case now);• Debate must be an integral part of the corporate culture: EU institutions must trigger civil participation in policy making and ensure discussions with the help of Web 2.0 tools; 14
  • 15. Improve internal EU staff interactions and job satisfaction• Organise more cross-DG or even cross-institutional social events (e.g. sports events; away days; currently these are limited to vertical events inside a DG but horizontal interactions are non-existent);• Create an ‘EU Facebook’ where staff can find out what their counterparts’ job description is, what they deal with, and thus facilitate online virtual connections and communication inter- nally, improving organisational efficiency, corporate culture, policy discussions.Improve communication with EU staff• Director Generals should offer one-minute weekly video-briefings to their staff on the intranet on current and upcoming topics; offer weekly or monthly interaction online or offline with Q/A;• All lunchtime conferences and policy events should be available via webstreaming for all staff in or outside Brussels;• Staff satisfaction surveys and audit should be carried out on a bi-annual basis, analysed and acted upon;• An e-newsletter version of ‘Commission en Direct’ should be available;• IntraComm should be a central meeting place for all staff to socialise online – where a real community can be formed, the common ground being their commitment to EU, integration and their job: this is already happening but only sporadically and outside the institutions (on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media)Ø It is strange that high-level political events are faster and better covered by Euractiv and other news agencies Intracomm, e.g. the 2008/2009 Ukrainian gas crisis.Improve senior EU staff’s and Commissioners’ communications• Compulsory media and public speaking training for all senior staff and Commissioners to improve the presentation techniques;• Offer linguistic and accent training to senior staff and Commissioners in English and/or French (very sensitive but crucial!);• In-depth analysis and training for all senior staff and Commissioners regarding the target groups (personas), relevant messages and presentation (simple language, concrete exam- ples, “stories”);• Communication toolkits must be made available and easily accessible to all staff on all levels of the hierarchy, but it should be open to the general public as well. 15
  • 16. Written by András Baneth, EU Affairs & Online Communications Professional www.baneth.euSharing and re-publishing for non-commercial purposes is allowed and encouraged as long as the source is acknowledged. Brussels, 2011