In this historical moment, communication is the most important tool in support of social and cultural innovation and Europe is often accused of not being able to communicate its policies, initiatives and opportunities for citizens and businesses in a direct and simple way.
Besides the use of a technical, bureaucratic and sectoral language (for “experts” in other words), Europe is responsible of certain inappropriate programming choices. Furthermore, European organizations cooperating within EU projects are responsible of a general delay in the use of new communication channels, whereas they should be the first “megaphones” to communicate projects activities and outcomes as well as virtuous, positive and constructive actions that the European Union has in place, approaching citizens to institutions and promoting the best initiatives undertaken to strengthen its identity.
In the new 2014-2020 programming phase and particularly in the Erasmus + program, the European Commission has decided not to devote any specific budget item for the promotion of the projects, their results, the work carried out by partnerships established throughout Europe. It was decided to enclose communication activities in a generic budget item named “Management”, whereas in the previous programming phase (Lifelong Learning Programme) dedicated funds were allocated specifically to arouse great interest and disseminate the results of cooperation among European partners.
Having to make a virtue of necessity, European partnerships have structured their business communication somehow, trying to head for a lot of systems and tools that are easily accessible and can reach a wider audience. Unfortunately, not all organizations express highly professionalized media quality and communication skills. This is the general backwardness of European cooperation operators with respect to new communication tools and channels: little interaction, hostile and incomprehensible language and little capacity for synthesis and report. Moreover, due to the lack of a budget devoted to communication, many interesting and useful projects do not produce any video and / or info-graphic documentation for example.
The communication of European projects, perhaps even due to evaluators’ indications, has always focused on the development of traditional instruments such as brochures, posters, booklets and gadgets. The only new elements were more and more user-friendly websites and amateur videos illustrating the project itself in a very little engaging and too technical way.
The rise of social networks seems to be not yet “digested” by those involved. These new channels can potentially reach a huge audience of users and reduce the costs of communication. Nevertheless, they are not yet very popular among the organizations involved in European projects design. In many cases, they spend enormous resources to achieve very little audiences.
It may seem strange but in partnership meetings, it often happens that as you ask for the hashtag on tweeter, you can actually read the terror in the organizers’ eyes not knowing what you are talking about!
Generally, more and more partners do not have Facebook and Twitter accounts and figures are even more discouraging if we consider the number of organizations that actively use them…
This analysis leads to the conclusion that in addition to the strengthening of the official channels of the European Union, the same projects partnerships should coordinate their resources better to ensure proper dissemination of projects activities and results. Universities, research centers, NGOs, institutions and companies without exception should enhance synergic interactions with their target audience and improve the active use of digital communication tools and channels. Furthermore, there are no policies fostering integrated communication among projects and partners as well as European instruments to connect different partners managing similar projects or programmes.
A first attempt was made by the PACE project (http://www.eu-projekte.at/pace/), a network of European project managers sharing good practices in the management of EU projects that has dedicated a specific space to the projects dissemination.
This is not enough. We would like to launch an appeal to all organizations that agree with us and are willing to convey this message to the European institutions, even by presenting their innovation projects related to this specific gap.
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