Posts tagged ‘Euractiv’

Searching the EU blogosphere

Google's homepage in 1998

Image via Wikipedia

Apparently in the world of search we are moving in two opposite directions, or at least Google think so. And who are we to question. Mere PA people that we are.

Firstly, there is apparently a move towards expanding the scope of general search to other forms of content. After all, whether it’s a vid. Note that as you’ve been searching Google recently maps, pictures, videos and allsorts of other online content are starting to pop up in your results. Have a go at putting in “Fleishman-Hillard Brussels” and you get a handy map of our location for example.

Secondly, there is a move towards more specialisation. In this regard, the boys over at Euractiv have created their own custom search engine for the EU blogosphere. Check it out here.

Which all leads us to wonder what does this mean? Well, we suppose if we work on our premise that policymakers also use the internet to find out about stuff – or at least their assistants do – that it’s not only your website that needs optimising but increasingly that other types of content may become more useful. Secondly, the custom search could be useful – for example, do you only want to know what the EU institutions websites say on a subject, or how about what a collection of NGO websites say? Could be handy.

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May 23, 2008 at 6:11 pm 1 comment

Re-designing the Rag – a new entrant from the old media

An invite to the relaunch event for the European Voice dropped into the inbox this afternoon. It seems they are doing some major renovation works on this venerable Brussels public affairs trade publication/institution. The question remains whether it shall just be a clean of the facade or a gutting of the entire building.

The latter seems more likely. While we’ve seen nothing, rumour has it that the accompanying website refit will move the European Voice site to an all bells and whistles EU information portal. You may have noted that they have already introduced a policy voices section to their current somewhat jaded looking site, moving them somewhat in this direction.

Of course, Euractiv has been stealing much of the online thunder in this space and it is no surprise that the folks at the Economist group are feeling a little bit old media. The Entre Nous column has lost much of its appeal (too much institutional stuff, not enough gossip) and the reporting of institutional events is now quicker (and with links) on Euractiv’s site. In terms of editorial comment, the just as venerable FT gives a far better account of itself in the paper and in their correspondents’ Brussels blog.

So let’s hope the online changes do the EV justice and give other online platforms a run for their money due to the quality of their reporting and analysis. We look forward to seeing it unveiled over several glasses of champagne at the reception.

March 27, 2008 at 7:10 pm 1 comment

Use of blogs by Brussels trade associations triples!

An interesting survey from the folks at Euractiv on the use of the internet by European trade associations was released late last week.  While we weren’t present at the launch event, we are happy to note that FH was represented at least in spirit by Sylvain Lhote (who spent 8 years with us before moving to plastics company Borealis).

As with all these things, the survey’s sponsors have sought as far as possible to draw the conclusions they are looking for from the results. One example is the ‘fact’ that the proactive use of blogs by European trade association has tripled in the last 12 months (from 3 to 9 percent!). Speaking to a member of Euractiv’s blogactiv team recently, it seems that this reflects the issues that they have been in getting trade associations to go past the stage of initial interest to actually signing up to write regular and interesting blog content on their platform. As we know all too well, blogging can take a significant time investment. If this investment was stated up front it could put the frighteners on many of those who pay the bills (thankfully in our case FH CEO Dave Senay has a healthy enthusiasm for all things digital). 

There of course could be other factors at play in the lack of proactive use of blogging by Brussels based associations. A natural inclination to rounds of necessary consultation and the lowest common denominator does not bode well for fast paced reactions in blog format. Nor does an tendency to focus on ‘the issues’ for the association and its members in an already hectic workload. For an association’s blog to build reputation is a long term process and one where the organisation will have to share expertise on a subject of interest to the policymaker (e.g. how best to communicate on chemicals to consumers) rather than the position of the association on a particular dossier (e.g. why labelling our chemical in the current legislation won’t move consumers). One blog post that’s a (hopefully shorter) rewrite of your position paper just won’t do. 

In any case, despite the disclaimer about the research not being scientific, it also underlines a few other interesting ‘facts’. One on one meetings are seen to be the best way to get your message across; not surprising given the fact that this is a government relations town and there is a limited number of policymakers likely to be interested in any one issue. This is closely followed by a good website. Media work comes somewhat further down the list, perhaps reflecting the fragmented nature of the Brussels press corps. 

 On the institution’s communications, associations do not frequent the Council’s website as often as the Parliament or Commission’s; not surprising as a little bit like the Council as an institution, it is designed to confuse and obsfucate…Underlying a longstanding view that if one wanted to tackle transparency in the EU, one would start with the Council’s website.

March 4, 2008 at 4:23 pm 2 comments

When is a blog not a blog?

A while ago we pondered the merits of Euractiv’s blogactiv platform as it boldly sought to change the face of the EU blogosphere. The intention seemed, and still seems, good. Now and again, when we get the time to read, there seems to be some decent posts from some interesting people. One could of course say the same of this blog (with the exception of us being interesting as people), we know.

However, a post of late January in preparation for today’s “Greening the Economy” European Business Summit worries us somewhat (we just found it as we are attending the event tomorrow). It’s a basic introduction to the topic of greening the economy, with links to other actors and a possibility for comment. Sound familiar? Is it just us, or could the post just as easily be a page on the main section of the Euractiv site (such as this one)?

If Euractiv is already a filter of information (one type of blog) and a diary (another type of blog) on the travails of organising the event wasn’t deemed interesting enough, then an expert insight/reflection on the issue is all that is left. Perhaps the journalist quoted by Euractiv editor Christophe Leclercq in his comment should have been asked to write it. The overview/filter could have been left where it belongs, on the main Euractiv pages.

Just as worryingly, at least one blog posting (“European Business Summit a success”) from today on the same event seems to have more of than a tad of self-promotion about it. Hopefully, they will get back to the noble aim of posts of”Europeans challenging Europe” soon enough. There is surely enough good material to go around.

February 21, 2008 at 8:38 pm 4 comments

Blogactiv – the future of the EU blogosphere?

We often stare in wonder at the supposed influence of US bloggers on political discourse and ponder whether such things will ever happen in Brussels. Over at the Brussels Media blog, they report on a development we heard mooted around town over recent months; the development by the internet information portal Euractiv of its own blogging platform blogactiv.eu

It is an interesting development, but we think it also throws up some interesting questions about the development of the EU blogosphere.

From Euractiv‘s point of view you can of course see why they are doing it. If it works and they link it as they suggest to relevant Euractiv content pages, it will provide more fresh content for their pages everyday. It may also draw people than would normally otherwise read Euractiv to their site. You will recall that Euractiv generally steers clear of editorial content, preferring to offer information and positions straight and simple. (BTW – sites like Euractiv have been a godsend to public affairs consultancies because of this. They allow us to focus on the more value added activities of intelligence and strategy rather than information.) Of course this effort clearly changes that dynamic and may attract a different kind of visitor.

For the potential blogger the Euractiv USP of being able to offer an instant readership is a strong one. Building a readership is not an easy task, especially in a world full of blogs. Its USP is especially important if one is seeking to reach out to those of us who live firmly inside the Brussels Bubble, a core section of Euractiv’s readership.

However, with respect to the development of the EU blogosphere we remain to be convinced. While the blogging platform is it seems open to all, the site pitches itself as “expert-generated content for Europe”. How is Blogactiv going to decide who is expert and who is not? The great thing about the blogosphere is that of course it’s the readers that decide with their mouse clicks and their links. As Blogactiv points out, the web is full of rubbish as the barrier to entry is so low, a few minutes on WordPress and hey presto. However, in addition to “expertise” to create a successful blog one needs sack fulls of patience and time. Natural selection occurs. Only the strong survive. If Blogactiv is an open platform, then expect as much rubbish as expertise. Especially if Disgruntled of Doncaster starts off on an anti-EU rant.

If Blogactiv is an “expertise” platform, i.e. you need a ready-made reputation and an invite from the Euractiv team, then it is in effect the same people from the Brussels Bubble talking to the same people in the Brussels Bubble. Looking at the Alpha authors (Stanley Crossick, Willy De Backer) one has to suspect that this may be the case. As such, do not expect the site to have the kind of impact that US bloggers with new faces and new ideas have had on the US political scene.

Nevertheless the advent of Blogactiv is of interest. It’s a logical extension to a successful information portal and potentially something we and our clients could be interested in. A guest blog on an issue at an opportune moment may be of interest in the same way that getting an opinion piece in the traditional media is. Don’t expect it to change the political landscape though, for that look to the fresh-faced bloggers with expanding networks and readerships that are already creating debates online.

November 6, 2007 at 12:04 pm 6 comments


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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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