Digital advocacy is assuming an increasingly important role in Brussels. What’s working to engage European policymakers? Can social media platforms help you find other advocates? Which tools work best? These were some of the questions addressed at the latest European Digital Advocacy Summit in Brussels, organised by the Public Affairs Council.
At the event, public affairs executives shared interesting case studies, insights and best practices as well as EU officials shared their perspectives on social advocacy. This executive-level conference was designed for interactive engagement between participants and presenters. I couldn’t attend the whole conference but I had the chance to sit at the “Successful Online and Media Engagement” part with Bruno Waterield, Brussels correspondent from the Telegraph and Christophe Leclercq founder of EurActiv.com
In this panel a lot was discussed about the Eurobubble (or Brussels bubble), the so-called circle of (mostly foreign) professionals living in Brussels and working on EU affairs. For an international organization, it is certainly challenging to communicate at different levels of governance and reach different target audiences at the European, national and local level. What could we learn from that panel?
- Use the (Euro)bubble as a bridge, not as a border
I often hear the claim that the Eurobubble (including EU institutions) only communicates to the bubble. This is clearly an incomplete statement since the EU communicates at levels of governance and addresses different groups of stakeholders according to the policies the work on. For instance the European Commission:
- has a central communication presence (dealing with communication at a global and European level)
- a presence delegated to the national level (managed by the Representations of the European Commission)
- An a widespread network of European Direct Information Centres to address and help citizens at local level.
Having said that, I am also convinced that people living and working in the Eurobubble do not only communicate within the bubble but they serve as information ambassadors at the national level. The Brussels press corp mostly reports to their central offices in EU Member States and around the world, professionals in various fields often go home and tell people what happens at the European level, civil servants exchange opinions with their national administrations and so on so forth. This is why I prefer thinking about the Eurobubble (whatever that means) as a bridge between Brussels and the rest of the world rather than a self-centred echo chamber.
I prefer thinking about the #eurobubble (whatever that means) as a bridge between BXL and MS rather than an echo chamber #EDAS2014
— marcoRecorder (@marcoRecorder) June 19, 2014
The Brussels Bubble exists in the physical world as well, at least Twitter has potential to reache beyond that. #EDAS2014
— Jennifer Baker (@BrusselsGeek) June 19, 2014
#EDAS2014 what is reality? Each local or national political context exists in its own bubble, and the #eububble is just one amongst many.
— Anne Christensen (@AnneCbxl) June 19, 2014
- Keep yourself in the loop
What I know as a social media analyst is that I have still an awful lot to learn and that I am bound to keep myself in the loop in order to keep providing valid recommendations and understand how the digital world evolves. There is no short-cut in this learning process. This applies to all professionals working in communication. Spend at least 10% of your time keeping an eye on communication technologies, experiment and make sure you get at least a tiny grasp of what may come next in your field of work and expertise.
- Use the online to reach the offline
In digital advocacy the offline cannot be separated from the online any longer. These two dimensions work best when they are connected, when they merge. Being engaged online should be (an optional) step one to make “real” connections.
.@jonworth giving a great overview of online campaigning at #EDAS2014 – online to offline, personalisation (good prep for my session later!)
— Brie Rogers Lowery (@brie_rl) June 19, 2014
Where you European Digital Advocacy Summit too? Share your views with me.