Posts tagged ‘jean quatremer’

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.


March 18, 2010 at 10:26 pm 1 comment

And the winner is…

The back of the BBC Birmingham headquarters in...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s awards season here in Brussels. Like the 94 tram on Avenue Louise, you wait forever for a glitzy award ceremony and then two come along at once.

Last night saw the inaugural European Public Affairs Directory awards at the Vaudeville Theatre in central Brussels. Alas, Jonathan Ross was not on hand to compere, instead a comedian who looked like Billy Connolly‘s illegitimate younger brother pitched up. His jokes weren’t bad. Wine was poured. Fun was had by all.

FH sponsored the Political Journalist of the Year Award and we can happily report that two out of the three nominees are big believers in blogs. Mark Mardell of the BBC is an avid blogger about all aspects of the EU, both inside and outside the Brussels Bubble (check out his recent posts from a three day trip to Germany for example), while Jean Quatremer of Liberation has even caught this anglophone’s attention. Our only nominee who currently does not blog, Jamie Smyth of the Irish Times, left the table with a promise to start one and to even look into Twitter after a hounding from the FHers on the table. We look forward to it, dinner conversation proved he has a great many interesting insights to share and is happy to engage in debate.

As an aside, it was also good to see the NGOs in town recognised by their public affairs peers for the formidable lobbyists that they are. Friends of the Earth won the Campaign of the Year for its relentless agrofuels lobby and WWF won the award for NGO of the year.

Oh and before I forget, the winner on our table…drum roll…Mark Mardell of the BBC (ably substituted by Mark James, BBC Bureau Chief, on the night).

Thankfully there’s another award ceremony only weeks away and next time around we may win the Consultancy of the Year (last night’s award went to APCO, congrats). We’re nominated at the inaugural European Agenda Public Affairs Summit awards on 4/5 December, in part thanks to our work in digital public affairs. We’re also hosting a workshop on the subject as part of the two day event. We hope to see you there.


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November 6, 2008 at 11:26 am Leave a 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

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