Like it or not, communication is the most important component in each project. In the projects funded by the EU, the work package of communication and dissemination is a key element. Progress and important results need to be communicated through different channels in order to show that these projects are relevant to everyday lives. To demonstrate how they can create jobs, fight diseases, introduce novel technologies or make our lives more comfortable.
Here are 7 tips on how to communicate successfully your EU-funded project:
1. Develop a sustainable communication plan
Strategic communications planning is a powerful management activity for identifying issues, setting priorities, defining strategies, and determining performance benchmarks and expectations. It is an important tool for building strong and productive relationships with all stakeholders. A coherent and clear communication strategy about the objectives and results of the project is essential for the dissemination of relevant information to key stakeholders including consortium partners and policy makers, and also to the public opinion. Having a good communication plan is paramount for a strong and sustainable branding of the project and the development of excellent communication materials.
2. Develop an interactive website to stay connected with your audience
For most websites, people visit the website once or twice then leave. An interactive website enables the creation of relationships with the visitors. Instead of only visiting the website of the project once then leaving, consortia can interact with their visitors several times. With an interactive website consortia partners are able to post information, results, articles, blog-posts, photos and videos, along with stories and captions. The main point of building an interactive website is to encourage visitors to spend more time on your website and get to trust you.
3. Don’t forget social media
Social networks are indispensable communication channels for communicating EU- funded projects. Social media profiles tend to rank quite highly in search. It is paramount to make sure yours are up to date and producing new content to keep them relevant. Review your social media profiles. See that they are personalised and have recent pictures. Consortia can share results with target audiences. Increasing site’s visibility and traffic can be achieved by sharing of content via social media. You should add social media buttons on your sidebar or footer so stakeholders can share your content via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks.
4. Media relations
Look with attention to the targeted media in order to understand the sort of content they cover and find out the kind of stories they are interested in. Explore media profiles and define which groups you need to target. Make some research on journalists before contacting them and before giving interviews or sending out press releases. When working with the media you have to be patient and courteous. Provide the press with more background information. Never make promises you are not able to keep. If you promise something you can not deliver, this might damage your relationship with the press.
5. Make it visual
Science and medical stories can be esoteric, so it is tremendous if you can provide video and graphics to help explain. Content is more and more visual today, and science or health journalists – especially for television - appreciate being able to show their audiences how things work. Viewers will repost your videos if they look professional. They should be to the point, not longer than 3 minutes and technically perfect. Also you should consider using infographics and animated stories which are efficient and engaging tools to explain complex content.
6. Printed material is not dead
It can be easy to get sucked into the world of online communication and forget that there is still a tangible, physical world where printed material can effectively be applied. Projects can have a lifetime of several years. During this period consortia should produce a series of leaflets, brochures, newsletters and other printed materials that will enable to share information about the projects during meetings and events.
7. Organise high level events
Event communication incorporates the powerful face-to-face element that is missing from many interactions in today’s digital world. It offers a targeted, effective way to share information with your audience. It gives the opportunity to connect with all kind of stakeholders in a unique and personal way. It creates a mutual environment that is ideal for back and forth communications between stakeholders. You can speak to and encourage participation from participants, while they can present any questions or concerns they might have. Engagement levels are through the roof in this type of setting. The personal connection can also be made in web and video-based environments when the right digital interaction tools are in place like live web streaming.
StP Communications helps organisations and consortia to get the most out of their communication and advise them with the development and implementation of their branding, media relations, video, social media, content strategy, copywriting and event planning.
by Stavros Papagianneas
With a background including positions such as communication officer at the European Commission and press officer and spokesperson to various diplomatic missions in Brussels, Stavros Papagianneas is currently managing director of public relations consultancy StP Communications. He is a senior communications expert with more than 20 years’ experience in strategic communications, public affairs, public relations, digital communication, social media and media relations . He has also been a member of the Working Party on Information of the Council of the European Union. He is the author of several articles in EU media like New Europe, L' Echo, Communication Director and Research Europe.