Posts filed under ‘media’

Join us at the Personal Democracy Forum, 2012!

On Thursday, May 31 we’ll be in the European Parliament, taking part in a captivating brainstorm on how tech – and tech-savvy citizens – are transforming governance, politics and civil society.

Why don’t you join us?

Now in its ninth year in the United States and its third year in Europe, the Personal Democracy Forum brings together top opinion leaders, politicians, technologists, and journalists from across the ideological spectrum to network and exchange ideas.

Next week’s event – Finding Europe’s Public Place – is set to put the impact of technology in Brussels under the spotlight, evaluating its role in the European institutions, diplomacy, lobbying and journalism.

Speakers will examine how interactive communications technologies are now being regularly deployed to address critical civic problems, and make governments more efficient, transparent, and accountable. They’ll also discuss whether these technologies are bringing Europe any closer to the as yet elusive public sphere.

Also on the agenda: the invaluable role social media has played in supporting democracy movements all over the world.

The Personal Democracy Forum invariably attracts highly distinguished guests – and this event is no exception. Ambassador William E. Kennard of the US Mission to the EU,  Facebook Europe’s Erika Mann and Peter Spiegel of the Financial Times are just a few of the speakers who’ll be sharing their insights on the day.

Register now to secure your place for this thought-provoking and invaluable event.

See you there!

Catherine.

May 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm 1 comment

Why successful public affairs should be a bit like a Tom Cruise film

There’s a moment in the Tom Cruise film ‘Jerry Maguire’ when Jerry (Tom Cruise) comes back to his wife Dorothy (Renee Zellwegger) as she’s complaining about how much she hates men. Before Jerry can launch into his speech about why he loves her and why she should love him, Dorothy stops him and simply says “You had me at hello”. For some reason I was reflecting recently that you’ll know when you’ve been successful in public affairs when the next time your organisation meets a policymaker they behave like Dorothy.

As our EP Digital Trends survey illustrated,  public affairs audiences form views about the challenges that society faces and the way to overcome them through reading newspapers, going online and listening to other important people in their lives (including hopefully the people who elect them). The idea that in a meeting you are suddenly going to transform your audience’s view on an issue is just not realistic. After all, the only tool you have is argument and it’s hard to persuade someone who has already made up their mind that you’re not to be trusted and wrong. Meetings may be part of the process, but you’ll know when you been successful when the meeting begins with a discussion of how the issue can be solved not whether they agree that there’s an issue to solve. To achieve this I’d venture you’re going to have to think about your actions and your reputation, how far what you’re saying is resonating outside that room (in media, online and with others) and whether your audience has already received your message and internalised it before you step in the room.

James

June 7, 2011 at 9:45 am 2 comments

Twitter turns five

Last night – at 8:50pm GMT – Twitter turned five years old and it got me thinking.

I openly admit to boycotting Twitter when it was launched (echos of protesting “I don’t care what Betty ate for breakfast” spring to mind). But I equally admit to being a convert five years later.

Some thoughts on why

1. Twitter can help sort the headlines from the fun stuff, and the urgent news from the background material.

A useful tool in tracking the latest news out of Libya or Japan, Twitter can also draw your attention to an article you might otherwise have missed by browsing a webpage. Case in point: I only came across the Financial Times’ rave review of EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva through their tweet of it:

@ftbrusselsblog: “The Accidental Commissioner http://on.ft.com/hAk8fG”  (She is also on Twitter @k_georgieva)

(Fun stuff: It also alerts you to the fact that Robert Redford is coming out with a new biography and perhaps the most hilarious review of a Parisian restaurant I have ever read: @Vanity Fair

2. Twitter brings together people with similar interests and can be a tool for identifying key communicators on a given issue.

Twitter is great for communicators. But it is also great for listeners. While searching for who was tweeting on Twitter’s birthday, I came across this from European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek:

@jerzybuzek: “Happy 5th birthday to #Twitter – one year+ for my account, essential way for me to communicate”

Buzek –or the person who manages his Twitter account- averages some five tweets a day and talks about everything from current events to internal Parliament decisions. But he also takes an obvious interest in anyone who responds to his tweets and regularly responds. True to the 2011 EP Digital Trends study, the EP is waking up to social media.

3. Twitter can bring on the funny – but more importantly, the creative.

Reducing a message to 140 characters can be challenging, but it also encourages communicators to have a clear and attention-grabbing message. It is a great tool for creativity in sectors that might not immediately be considered creative – just ask mutual fans of logistics and Salt-N-Pepa:

@cwarroom RT@makower: “Ship it. Ship it good: RT@EDFbiz: Carbon Data Driving Freight Decisions

Funny. Informative. And a reference to a 80s music “classic”.

Point is, as Tris Hussey of the Vancouver Observer keenly observed, “For something that was so geeky when it started out that even geeks didn’t know what to do with it, Twitter sure has taken off like a rocket.” And I find it useful, both professionally and for the fun stuff.

Where will Twitter go from here? The Guardian gives a few interesting indications: “40% of tweets originate on a mobile device […] with 5.3 billion mobile phone users in the world, and 90% of the world’s population in reach of a mobile phone network, Twitter has a far better chance of reaching everyone first…”

Jess

[Just starting out on Twitter? Here are some tips on how to get started.]

 

March 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm Leave a comment

And the winner is …

 

Election night in the Netherlands was quite ‘hot’; at some point the NOS television program  ‘election night’ announced that Twitter was overloaded and inaccessible due to the vast interest of the people in the probable results.

The Dutch parliamentary elections on 9 June in all probability resulted in a victory for the liberal VVD in terms of the most seats and a victory for Geert Wilder’s party PVV in terms of the most seats gained compared to the last elections. Former Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende immediately resigned as leader of the Christian-democratic party CDA as his party almost lost half of its seats.

Coalition and compromise have always been at the heart of Dutch politics and governance. This time around, the political parties really have to live up to these Dutch principles as the amount of seats per party are quite evenly spread. The labour party PvdA for instance, only has one seat less than the VVD, so getting a credible majority is a bit of a challenge. One option now speculated upon in the Dutch media is a combination of the VVD, CDA and PVV leading to a small majority of 76 seats out of 150 (the absolute minimum). Formally speaking, the results are still to be reviewed by the election control council (the ‘Kiesraad’) and final results will be announced in parliament on 15 June.

So for the moment, the winner is democracy. Now let’s see how civil this democracy is in forming a government. VVD leader Mark Rutte wants to have a new government by 1 July, which is 21 days from now. FYI,  since 1946 the average coalition process in the Netherlands takes about 87 days… 

Esther

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June 10, 2010 at 10:18 am Leave a comment

The UK’s first digital election campaign?

The following post is from Simon Benson of our London team

There has been much written in the UK media that this will be the first truly digital general election campaign. This is true to an extent, with the numbers of blogs and websites devoting themselves to politics and the election having increased widely since the last General Election in 2005 – it is hard to believe that neither Facebook nor Twitter existed the last time Britons went to the polls. So it was perhaps somewhat surprising that one of those bloggers, Iain Dale, told a packed Fleishman-Hillard London breakfast event last week that in his view, digital content and information will not dramatically influence the outcome on election day.

Dale’s analysis was that initiatives such as myconservatives.com (a tool which enables local campaigns to recruit volunteers and collect small donations) were launched too late by the Conservatives and should have been introduced earlier in the election cycle in order to have a real impact.  Labour strategists are keen to point out that their version –  membersnet has been operational for several years now, where initiatives such as the phone bank (where members can phone other members and voters using  an online database) have been successfully deployed.  However, such online phone banks are merely digitally advanced versions of more traditional campaign methods –  i.e, a compliment to the long established tactics of canvassing and cold calling rather than a digital step change.

Dale also suggested that the UK should look to political systems closer to its own parliamentary democracy such as those in Europe or Australia for inspiration, as opposed to the vast Presidential election campaigning in the USA.  He’s right, but not only because of the difference in style (and resources) but also because the digital elements of that election were built on a grassroots campaign for change – in the UK, there is no such instinct, with voters turned off from politics by the expenses scandal and no great desire shown for either Brown or Cameron.

Where the bloggers and political websites can be influential is in their attempts to create news agendas either as virals or in the traditional media. After some caution, journalists are beginning to report on stories created by bloggers, with Guido Fawkes having claimed senior scalps, including Peter Hain MP and Brown’s former press adviser Damian McBride.  However, it is worth remembering that the UK’s biggest political scandal this year – MPs expenses – was uncovered  not by the new media, but by a very old and traditional title – the Daily Telegraph.

Recent episodes such as spoof versions of David Cameron posters have perhaps best shown how virals can attempt influence. Its owner, Clifford Singer, posted spoofs of the Tories’ main billboard campaign on his website but realised the idea could grow when he almost immediately started receiving hundreds of similar versions from viewers. Within days, a simple website was created which allowed anyone to ‘invent’ their own professionally completed versions of the Tories’ campaign posters.  The Labour MP and blogger Tom Watson MP has said about the viral: “MyDavidCameron.com is an example of people taking an idea and reusing it to add to a discussion and make a point. Political party managers might not like it, but it has given election billboards new relevance and interest for the forthcoming general election. It is making electioneering interesting, unpredictable and, dare I say, more fun.”

So although the internet will not control this campaign entirely, it is already challenging political strategists, campaign advertising executives and candidates to think in new ways and to respond to challenges that they would never have envisaged just a few years ago.

Simon

You can check out more about the UK elections at the F-H London blog.

March 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm 2 comments

What PR types can learn from Brussels’ shrinking press corps

The Economist’s Charlemagne, Libération’s Jean Quatremer and communications consultant Michael Malherbe, all blogged this week about the diminishing numbers of accredited journalists in Brussels.

There are plenty of PR types who will be using this fairly seismic shift as an excuse to our bosses or clients when our story doesn’t get covered. But the press corps could double, and a press release that merely ”welcomes” a Brussels announcement on an issue that is irrelevant to most, while at the same time  “applauds”  the “Commission” (cos there is only one “Commission” in the world, right?) will NEVER get picked up. A  few years back, there was an infamous Brussels website that named and shamed such press releases.

The monster that the Europe correspondent has to grapple with has always been multi-headed. Having to file stories on data privacy, anti-trust, food labelling and customs in quick succession is no joke. We PR types need to be of much more use to journalists –  bringing them easy access to real world experts and those with influential opinions on issues that matter to – or even entertain – their readers and their editors.

With fewer journalist around (yes, there are still 700 but you get what I’m saying), we should take more time to get to know them.  And not (alone) by taking them for mad nights out, but by actually reading what they write, knowing their pet subjects, knowing their style and that of their editor.

Charlemagne makes the excellent point that journalists should move from Brussels out to the trenches every few years.  So should all of us.

Anita

March 18, 2010 at 10:26 pm 1 comment

From Rome to Tehran: democracy goes online

In one of our last posts we helped you understanding the apparently complicated Italian political scenario (we hope we succeeded). Now, your burning passion for the Peninsula’s politics will find other tools to better follow what happens in the ‘boot’.

A brand new web site to track down Italian MPs’ activities in the national parliament was launched yesterday. The web site has been created by a non-profit organization (Openopolis) which already launched in the past two initiatives, one to identify your political positioning by answering a set of questions on different topics and the other one to provide a wide range of information on politicians.

The new portal will help discovering, for example, that MP Antonio Caglione (Partito Democratico), is at the bottom of the attendance rate list (only 11.33% of sessions attended) and Furio Colombo (PD again) is the most rebellious MP, voting 394 times against the indications of his party. Berlusconi’s MPs are the most reliable in terms of presence and 16 of them are above the 99% threshold.

As you know this is not the first tool of this kind that was launched in a European country and it just show how the Internet is becoming an increasingly used tool by both politicians – FH digital survey docet – and voters or the society as a whole, all over Europe. People need and want the information that traditional media is not able to provide: a few minutes after the launch of the web site, visitors started receiving messages saying that the server was slowed down because of the massive traffic.

Digital democracy or e-democracy is not the future anymore, it is the present. An example? The protests in Tehran: with the government obscuring the telecom network, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube compensate the spread out of information and someone already defined this ‘ the first digital revolution’.

Simone

June 17, 2009 at 3:12 pm Leave a comment

Regulators, consumers or industry – Who will be the future privacy king?

 As you might have seen from a recently published note by FH , privacy is Brussels’ new catch phrase.  Few are disputing that search engines, social networking sites and other Internet related technologies offer huge opportunities for consumers and the digital economy. However, some are concerned that increasing the collection and processing of personal data on Internet jeopardizes privacy.  EU Commissioners, NGOs, companies and MEPs – everyone wants to defend European citizen’s right to privacy. But as new developments unfold  who will take the lead – regulators, consumers or industry?

At a recent conference a European Commission official said: “Our ambition is clear: we want the best data protection system in the world”. In contrast with the Obama administration who has been relatively quiet on privacy (but very keen on driving other ICT issues such as cyber security and network neutrality) this aspiration could put the EU in the driving seat in global discussions about borderless personal data flows. The Commission’s clear ambition in combination with mounting pressure from stakeholders  to renew data protection rules seem to make the case for additional regulation pretty straight forward.

However, the appetite for self regulation is building-up. Several companies have already signed up to the UK Internet Advertising Bureau’s good practice principles for online behavioural advertising aiming to put the user in control when data is collected. The infancy of business models with revenue streams mainly stemming from Internet has lead to a knowledge gap between policy makers and industry. This gap offers an opportunity for industry players who want to stay ahead of the legislative curve by engaging in dialogue and adopting self-regulatory codes.

No matter if EU policy makers or industry take the lead we can count on the fact that grass root mobilization among users will continue to force companies to backtrack on their online advertising practices. British Telecom’s Phorm experiment and Facebook’s “Beacon” advertising program are just two of many examples where users have waged war against privacy intrusive business practices. 

Clearly, regulators, consumers and industry are on the lookout for new online privacy rules.  Who will be the kingmaker of future privacy regulation?

Magnus

June 15, 2009 at 12:39 pm 2 comments

Elections à la polonaise

Europe is doomed. Seriously. It must be, after all, Mr. (Jarosław) Kaczynski, our former PM, famous for having an identical twin and starring in a movie ages ago, seems to think so.  “Why doomed?” one might ask. Well, the reason is simple: Europe can be strong only if it is a Christian union and the problem, according to Mr Kaczynski, is that today it is anti-Christian and, more specifically, anti-Catholic. 

It was somehow obvious that religion would sooner or later dominate the Polish debate. Funny, however, that Mr. Kaczynski’s belief in the central importance of Catholicism didn’t stop his Law and Justice party from entering into an agreement with the UK’s Tories (who as far as I know are far from Catholic) and the Czech ODS . As for the Czech, may I please quote Wikipedia on this? (I know, I know, not the most reliable of sources but indulge me…) “The Czech Republic, along with Estonia, has one of the least religious populations in all of Europe. According to the 2001 census, 59% of the country is agnostic, atheist, a non-believer or a non-organized believer, 26.8% is Roman Catholic and 2.5% is Protestant. According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll in 2005, 19% of Czech citizens responded that “they believe there is a god” (the second lowest rate among European Union countries after Estonia with 16%), whereas 50% answered that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force” and 30% said that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god or life force”.” Good luck in building the Christian Union Mr. Kaczynski!

On another note – after two (according to the media – very profitable) speeches that Mr. Wałęsa did for the Irish Libertas party, there will be no more. The party tops apparently don’t want to risk having him encourage the Irish to vote FOR the Lisbon Treaty as Mr. Wałęsa promised to do in his May 24 interview with AFP.

And lastly – some Polish politicians have discovered Twitter. The two most notorious Law and Justice spin-doctors have been busy attacking the opposition on the microblogging site. As Gazeta Wyborcza, the biggest Polish daily (rather to the left of the most other media and decidedly liberal) informs us, four out of seven tweets by Mr. Bielan (MEP) and Mr. Kamiński were ridiculing their opponents. And how many tweets have they posted presenting the Law and Justice’s policy program? Zero.

Jay

June 5, 2009 at 11:17 am 1 comment

2009: A European Odyssey (into French online media)

French Europhiles always complain that the media never report anything (positive) about the European Union. In Le Point this week, the Chief Editor argues that ” it is a well-known fact in press circles: put the word ‘Europe’ on first page or on a TV debate and you will only make readers and viewers change page or channel”.

It tends to be true most of the time. Of course, you can read once a month about Sarkozy’s reactions to the last European Council or about ‘Brussels’ ruining the business of French fishermen or farmers. But you will find it difficult to read any quality article about the Telecoms Package or the Energy liberalisation Package, although both sets of measures contain real improvements for French consumers.

However, I found out recently that the online media coverage of the European elections campaign is quite interesting. The debate even tries to go beyond Franco-French issues. I’ve read good – and sometimes funny – things about Libertas in Ireland, Berlusconi’s choices of candidates and details on the status of the campaign in several Member States.

The Internet is blooming with articles on the EU: Le Figaro has a specific ‘European elections’ section, Le Monde provides readers with lots of interesting portfolios and interactive maps. Libération gives original points of view through a specific blog on European elections and Quatremer’s famous Coulisses de Bruxelles.

Even political parties are very active on the Internet to provide attractive information. UMP and PS both have specific websites dedicated to European elections. Although I am sceptical about their slogan – “When Europe wants, Europe can”- the UMP website features a ‘Europe TV 2009’ which is quite nice and easy to navigate. Although less visually attractive, the PS website gives a lot of background information on the Socialist programme and features a list of relevant Twitter feeds.

A good starting point to navigate all these websites could be the newly updated map of ‘the European web’ set up by Touteleurope. It is quite an impressive map that registers 2046 French websites and blogs dealing with EU issues on a regular basis.

For once, no citizen will be able to argue that he was not well informed… A question remains: will it change anything to the fact that the French have always used the European elections to sanction the government in power?

Clara

May 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm 1 comment

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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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